About Madison WI

Located just 60 miles from Milwaukee, Madison is the second largest city in the state of Wisconsin. The state capitol and the county seat of Dane County, the Greater Madison Area - also home to the University of Wisconsin - is often described as The City of Four Lakes, comprised of Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Wingra and Lake Waubesa. The downtown is situated on an isthmus located between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, although the city has long since expanded beyond that area. The lakes are connected to Lake Kegonsa via the Yahara River which flows into the Rock River and eventually out to the Mississippi River.

In May of 1829, territorial judge and land speculator James Duane Doty, who was captivated by the natural beauty of the area, purchased 1200 acres of land from the federal government for $1.25 an acre. Seven years later President Andrew Jackson created the territory of Wisconsin and within six months Wisconsin’s first governor, Henry Dodge, convened the first Legislature to determine the site of the territorial capital. The legislature voted in favor of choosing Madison for its capital largely because of its location halfway between the new and growing cities around Milwaukee in the east and the long established strategic post of Prairie du Chien in the west, as well as because of its location between the highly populated lead mining regions in the southwest and Wisconsin's oldest city, Green Bay in the northeast. Naming Madison after a much-admired founding father who had just passed away, and naming streets after every founding father, also helped garner support.

During the Civil War, Madison served as a center for the Union Army in Wisconsin. The intersection of Milwaukee, East Washington, Winnebego, and North Streets is known as Union Corners, a name that originated as a result of a tavern located there which served as the last stop for Union soldiers before leaving to fight the Conferderates. Camp Randall was built and was used as a training camp, a military hospital, and even a prison camp for captured Confederate soldiers. After the war ended, Camp Randall was incorporated into the grounds of the University of Wisconsin and in 1917 Camp Randall Stadium was built on top of the site. The original capitol burned in 1904 and construction on the current capitol building began in 1906. It is said to be a smaller but exact replica of our nation's capitol located in Washington, D.C.

Famous Madison Natives

Madison is home to quite a few famous names. The roster includes architect Frank Lloyd Wright, playwrights Thornton Wilder and Tina Howe, Olympic skaters Eric and Beth Heiden, novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard, Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction writers Deborah Blum and David Maraniss and actors Joan Cusack, Tyne Daly, Bradley Whitford, Chris Noth, and Chris Farley. Movie producers Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, and David Zucker are Wisconsin natives who began their careers in Madison.

Madison Awards

Madison is nationally recognized as an ideal place to live, work, go to school, play and raise a family. Wisconsin's beautiful capital city, with a vibrant population of approximately 200,000, offers both small town charm and a range of leisure and cultural opportunities usually found in only much larger communities. A favorite Midwestern getaway, Madison is also a premier meeting and convention destination. Madison is known for its exceptional quality of life. In 1996 Money magazine named Madison the “Best Place To Live in America” and in 1998 it was named the “#1 Best Mid-Sized City to Live in the Midwest”. Madison consistently ranks near the top of the best-places list every year, the city's low unemployment rate being a major contributor. In 2003 Sports Illustrated magazine honored Madison as "Best College Sports Town" in America. In 2004, Forbes Magazine ranked Madison "No. 1 in Nation for Business and Careers". The ranking looked at criteria including: education of the work force, percentage of the population with college degrees, low unemployment and crime rates, cost of housing and income and job growth. Over twenty-five other major national publications, including Parenting, U.S. News & World Report, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Expansion Management, Bicycling, Outside, Ladies Home Journal and Entrepreneur, have recently honored Madison with top-tier rankings in key categories including:

“Great Places to Raise a Family”
“Best Schools in the Nation”
“America’s Safest Cities”
“Best Cities for Working Moms”
“America’s Best Places to Live and Work”
“Where to Retire”
“Best Places In America to Start and Grow a Company”
“One of America’s Seven Dream Towns”
“Best Cities For Women”
“Best Bike Towns in the County”
“Most ‘Child-Friendly’ Cities”

Click here for a complete inventory of the long list of awards Madison has won since 1994. 

Madison's Public Management & Services

Madison is recognized for its excellent public management and services and is one of the few communities in the United States to boast a “Triple A” bond rating. Madison maintains nearly 200 parks and, in partnership with Dane County, has one of the only free zoos in the country, including an extensive children’s petting zoo. Madison's nationally acclaimed bus system provides excellent public access and enables many families to live comfortably without the need for more than one car. Madison is also is well known for its excellent health care services and boasts four hospitals, over 100 clinics and many highly qualified physicians and medical specialists.

Madison's Economy

Madison has a strong and vibrant economy with its low unemployment rate, excellent schools, strong labor force, and excellent business climate. Crime rates, poverty rates and pollution rates are low. It has been reported that high-tech jobs are growing at a rate of 10% a year in Madison. Madison is a great place to do business.

Madison's Recreational Opportunities

The natural beauty and recreational opportunities of Madison’s landscape are truly unique. Built on an isthmus in the midst of four glacial lakes, Madison offers an abundance of activities including sailing, fishing, swimming (at thirteen area beaches), boating (with eleven launch sites), tennis (including dozens of public courts), hiking, biking, ice skating, jogging (on nationally-recognized trails) and golfing (four public courses), hunting, snowmobiling, skiing, sledding and canoeing.

Other public facilities include the Madison Civic Center which hosts over 50 major concerts and productions a year, the Olbrich Botanical Gardens with 14 acres of outstanding specialty gardens and a domed conservatory, the Dane County Exposition Center, a major meeting and entertainment venue, and Monona Terrace, Madison’s beautiful new Frank Lloyd Wright designed community and convention center located downtown on the shores of Lake Monona.

The Farmer's Market

Madison is known as a city of many special arts, ethnic and community events including the widely-acclaimed downtown Farmers’ Market with over 200 vendors (#1 “Star Farmers’ Markets” by Food & Wine magazine, 1996), summer “Concerts On The Square” with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, “A Taste Of Madison,” dozens of performances by the Madison Repertory Theatre, Children’s Theatre of Madison, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and the Madison Opera, and, the popular “Art Fair on the Square,” one of the top art fairs in the country which draws about 200,000 people each summer.

Downtown Madison

The State Street Mall is a key retail, dining, entertainment and cultural center of the community, linking the world-acclaimed University of Wisconsin-Madison with the bustling and beautiful Capitol Square. Quality and unique restaurants, shops and galleries abound and museums and historical buildings include the Madison Art Center, the State Capitol, the Madison Children’s Museum, the State Historical Museum and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.

Activities For Children & Families in Madison

Children’s activities flourish in Madison, from arts and crafts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, dance, drama and music, to sports such as baseball, softball, T-ball, basketball, bowling, gymnastics, football, golf, ice hockey, skating, swimming, diving, tennis, track, soccer, karate and more. After school activities are also available at many school and neighborhood center locations. Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR), an 80 year-old department of the Madison Metropolitan School District, provides a terrific after-school program for school-age kids, as well as offers a wide range of recreation programs and services for all ages year-round. Madison is also recognized as a leader in quality day care, with 142 licensed day care centers and almost 200 licensed family care providers.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, a top-ranked educational institution, offers Madison residents unique benefits such as access to a beautiful, shorelined campus, a 1,200 acre Arboretum, a Geology Museum, the Elvehjem Museum of Art, the Kohl Center's 460,000 square foot basketball and hockey arena, and many other major sporting events and performances of national and international renown at the Wisconsin Union Theater.

Housing Availability in Madison

The Greater Madison Area has an impressive housing stock that boasts some of the finest distinctive and historic homes, executive estates, luxury villas, frontage properties, retirement communities, recreational properties, special view properties and other special-feature homes with an incredible diversity of sizes and styles. Madison real estate includes a wide variety of homes and condos for sale, water access properties (waterfront, bay or lake view), golf and recreational communities, investment property, 55+ adult communities, hobby farms, new construction and vacant land.

Whether you're buying new construction, a downtown condo, investment or other property, Lake & City Homes has the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the process smoothly and profitably. Call us today at (563) BUY-SOLD or complete the form below to get in touch!

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