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Madison, WI

Madison is the state capital and second-largest city in Wisconsin. The population of the city is roughly 223,000 people. In 2008, Money magazine named the scenic, family-friendly city as one of the top 100 places to live in the country. Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin and is consistently ranked among the best college towns and sports cities in America.

Madison is located in south-central Wisconsin in the center of Dane County, 77 miles west of Milwaukee and 122 miles northwest of Chicago. The city is sometimes described as "The City of Four Lakes", comprising the four successive lakes of the Yahara River: Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa, although Waubesa and Kegonsa are not actually in Madison, but just south of it.

Madison has a temperate climate, with large seasonal temperature variances. Winters see temperatures well below freezing, with moderate to occasionally very heavy snowfall. Summer temperatures often reach the upper 80s to 90s with very high humidity.

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS

Notable Madison neighborhoods include:

  • Downtown/Campus: The Downtown/Campus neighborhood takes over the entire isthmus between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota. A part of the Business Improvement District, Downtown Madison provides locals with a flourishing cultural and social scene.
  • Capitol Square: The site of the state's capitol building, Capitol Square also hosts many outdoor events in the summer.
  • Bayview: Bayview's residences are owned by the Bayview Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that developed Bayview with the goal of creating a community-centered neighborhood. Bayview has a strong artistic focus and offers its residents many art-related programs.

GETTING AROUND

Commuters are easily able to traverse the city. Three interstates service the Madison area: Interstates 39, 90, and 94, and all three intersect in downtown Madison. Interstates 39 and 90 converge at the Wisconsin-Illinois border, where they merge into a single roadway that runs north and south through Wisconsin. Interstate 94 comes from Milwaukee and ends in downtown Madison.

Numerous U.S. routes take commuters in and out of Madison. U.S. Route 12 travels the west side of Madison, routes 14 and 18 provide access to the southern part, route 51 covers the southeastern area, and route 151 travels from the northeast.

Two other areas of transportation include Madison Metro, which operates the bus system in the city, providing numerous stops around Madison and its surrounding areas. The other is the Dane County Regional Airport, which is near the north edge of the city and has more than 100 daily commercial flights.

ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES

Health care is an important industry in Madison, and the area has three hospitals:

  • Situated on the university's campus, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics is a large facility that is frequently ranked as a top academic medical center in the country. It is considered a national leader in cancer treatment, pediatrics, ophthalmology, surgical specialties, and organ transplants.
  • Saint Mary's Hospital has served southeastern Wisconsin since 1912. Located on South Park Street, it contains centers for cardiac care, family birth, and neuroscience.
  • Not-for-profit Meriter Hospital is a major teaching hospital for the University of Wisconsin.

BEST BETS

The city's attractions include a zoo, gardens, and the Capitol building:

  • Henry Vilas Zoo: This free zoo is situated on South Randall Avenue. Built in 1904, the zoo features a children's area, a penguin exhibit, a primate center, and a tropical rain forest aviary. Next to the zoo is the Vilas Park Beach, another popular destination.
  • Olbrich Botanical Gardens: With approximately 16 acres of outdoor display gardens, the Gardens celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2002. This attraction is located on Altwood Avenue. The best time to view the award-winning plants and foliage is during the mid- to late-summer, when many flowers are in full bloom.
  • State Capitol: Madison's State Capitol building is the only one in the country that is situated on an isthmus. Its unique granite dome rises to approximately 200 feet. Free tours are offered daily at the East Main Street location.

FOR VISITORS

Visitors and residents can find many artistic and cultural venues scattered throughout the city:

  • Madison Museum of Contemporary Art: The nonprofit establishment collects and displays modern and contemporary art pieces in its State Street location. The 51,500-square-foot facility includes a rooftop sculpture garden, a new media gallery, and a study center.
  • Madison Children's Museum: This museum features hands-on, award-winning exhibits for young visitors. The museum was recently recognized as one of the top 20 children's museums in the country by Grand magazine.
  • Wisconsin Veterans Museum: Established after the Civil War, this museum houses one of the nation's most extensive collection of Civil War artifacts. The museum is located on West Mifflin Street. Visitors can look at the helicopters and airplanes and even peer through a periscope to view Madison's downtown.

LOCAL MEDIA

  • Wisconsin State Journal is the city's daily newspaper.
  • The weekly alternative newspaper, Isthmus, prints a Thursday edition.
  • The humorous fake newspaper, The Onion, was founded in Madison in 1988.

EDUCATION

University of Wisconsin-Madison finds its home in the capital city. Its 933-acre main campus sits along University Bay off eastern Lake Mendota. Its athletic teams participate in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference and have won 28 national championships.

Although mainly known for the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Madison has other colleges within its city limits:

  • Edgewood College is a private Catholic college that offers students a range of undergraduate programs.
  • Madison Area Technical College is a community college offering associate's degrees in numerous fields.

DID YOU KNOW?

Madison has been recognized time and again as a "green city," meaning that it has implemented numerous laws and programs designed to promote clean environmental standards within the community.

The city has received the following accolades:

  • April 2007: #1 Walking City, Prevention magazine
  • April 2007: One of the Top 25 Best Places to Live, Country Home magazine
  • April 2007: One of the Top 10 Best Green Cities Organic Food Supply, Country Home magazine
  • April 2007: One of the Top 10 Best Green Large Cities, Country Living magazine
  • May 2007: One of the Top Ten Greenest Cities, Yahoo! Real Estate