Are you thinking about moving to Madison? Do you already live here but want to know more about this amazing city? Here's a short history of this great place we call home!
Renowned for its lakes and parks, Madison, Wisconsin was founded in 1829 after local Judge James Doty bought more than a thousand acres of land in between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, to build a city. He bought the entire 1,261 acres for $1,500.
The newly created city was named after James Madison – fourth President of the US - who died in 1836. Madison quickly became the capital of Wisconsin area and was incorporated as a village in 1846, when it had a population of just 626.
When Wisconsin became a State in 1848, Madison retained its status as the capital City and the University of Wisconsin was founded that same year. The State and the University have been the two largest employers in the region ever since.
When the Civil War broke out Madison operated as a center for the Union Army and there is an intersection still known as Union Corners, because there used to be an old tavern frequented by Union soldiers before they headed out to fight the Confederates. All military traces have now gone from the City.
The City of Four Lakes
Madison is sometimes called The City of Four Lakes, because of its association with the lakes of the Yahara River – these are Lake Waubesa, Lake Mendota, Lake Kegonsa and Lake Monona. There is also another fifth lake within the city itself, helping to permanently link the identity of the city with the water surrounding it.
The lakes play a vital role in City life, with residents taking to the waters for sports and leisure activities in the summer, and to the ice for winter water sports.
Madison’s growing modern economy
The university and the state are still the biggest employers in the city but today’s economy within Madison is starting to turn from a government-based city to a more consumer and high-tech base with companies moving in from the healthcare, biotech and advertising industries.
The city has experienced regular and steady expansion, thanks to the interstate and a boom in high-tech companies helping to transfer academic research into bio-tech real-world applications. Interesting fact, most people who use moving companies in Madison are people moving to the city for either jobs at businesses like Epic, Zendesk and American Family Insurance or for school at the University of Wisconsin. Madison has a strong connection with academia with almost half of the population under 25 having a degree, and the town owns the proud record of being resident to the highest number of PHD-holding individuals in the US, back in 2004.
The city has also been named in the top 10 best Cities of the US, several times in a row, as well as being named in the top ten cities for best job growth, thanks to its consistently low unemployment rate.
Cultural and leisure activities in Madison
The main street in Madison is a hive of activity with cafes, shops and restaurants, linking the main town through to the University of Wisconsin campus. In the summer, people flock to the city to take part in The Great Taste of the Midwest craft beer festival as well as many and varied music festivals and events.
The lakes play a crucial role in the city’s leisure activities with sailing and boating enjoyed by many during the summer months, along with ice-boating, ice hockey and ice skating in the winter.
There are several theaters and music venues, including the university campus and there is a lively rock music scene with independent musicians and recording labels. The summer brings many and varied music festivals to the city including jazz, world music, folk music and cajun music events, among them.
Outside of the music scene there are plenty of venues for art lovers including museums, opera and ballet houses, as well as a number of theater groups and comedy clubs.
And for cycling fans, Madison is one of only five US cities to be awarded the platinum level “Bicycle Friendly Community” title by the League of American Bicyclists. In fact, Madison is renowned for having more bikes than cars in the City and more than 200 miles of bike routes in and around the area.
The region also has more than 250 parks and beaches so there is plenty of leisure space and time for everyone to enjoy including golf, water sports and hiking. If you prefer being a spectator then enjoy the national cycling championships or the football at the university.
Food and dining in Madison
As the economy and leisure side grow and bring more and more people into Madison, the food and dining industry have also started to expand and develop. Restaurants in the main center offer menus prepared by award-winning chefs for evening meals.
Those who like fine food but are happy to get up early, can look forward to fresh fine produce at the Dane County Farmers Market. Meats and baked goods can be found at this foodie shopper’s heaven.
For those who prefer a more leisurely start to the morning, breakfast at one of the hot spot coffee houses is a must, with delicacies and fragrant tea options available alongside the coffee.
The development of the city has seen a vast increase not only in restaurants and coffee shops but also venues such as microbreweries, cocktail crafting shops and fine dining eateries are springing up across the city.
Madison the transport hub
One of the reasons for the city’s popularity is that it is really well-served by transport, thanks to the Dane County Regional Airport, which looks after around 1.6 million travelers every year. There are also nearby rail and bus services for adjoining towns and cities. As the best Madison WI movers, we know this city inside and out. The main interstates also connect Madison through to the rest of the region, helping support its best city title.
From its humble roots on the lakes, Madison has sprung up victorious, retaining its title as capital of Wisconsin throughout the years which is testament to the city’s ability to adapt and grow. Moving from a government and education-based economy, the city has built on its academic achievements to grow into the modern industries of high tech and biotech, helping to secure a strong economy for the future.
Its broad range of activities available throughout the year combined with its strong history of education and high employments rates make it a prime attraction for young couples and families looking to make their first home.
Convinced you need to drop everything and move to Madison right away? Give us a call at (608) 208-6320 right now and talk to us. We'll help your move go as smooth as possible. Can't wait to see you here!