Janesville, Wisconsin: Wikis


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City of Janesville
Downtown Janesville looking south on Main Street (2004)
Nickname(s): "City of Parks"
"Wisconsin's Park Place"
"Bower City"
Location of Janesville in Rock County, Wisconsin
Coordinates: 42°41′2″N 89°0′59″W / 42.68389°N 89.01639°W / 42.68389; -89.01639Coordinates: 42°41′2″N 89°0′59″W / 42.68389°N 89.01639°W / 42.68389; -89.01639
Municipality City
Incorporated 1853
 - City manager Eric Levitt
 - Total 72.8 km2 (28.1 sq mi)
 - Land 71.2 km2 (27.5 sq mi)
 - Water 1.6 km2 (0.6 sq mi)
Population (2000)
 - Total 59,498
 Density 834.2/km2 (2,160.6/sq mi)
Time zone Central (UTC−6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
Area code(s) 608
Website www.ci.janesville.wi.us

Janesville is a city in southern Wisconsin, United States.[1] It is the county seat of Rock County[1] and the principal municipality of the Janesville, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 59,498.[2]



Janesville was founded in 1835[3] on the east bank of the Rock River. Named for an early settler, Henry Janes,[4] early development depended on water power from the river and an early territorial road that included the first bridge across the Rock River.[5]

Janesville was the site of the first Wisconsin State Fair in 1851, attended by approximately 10,000 people.[6]

Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin's first female lawyer (1874), lived in Janesville.[7]

A tree that once stood in downtown Courthouse Park was the site of a lynch mob that hanged a convicted murderer in 1859.[8] In 1992, television journalist Geraldo Rivera was arrested for battery after an altercation during his coverage of a Ku Klux Klan rally in Janesville.[9] The location of a related cross burning in 1992 is now "Peace Park" with a playground and a peace pole, said to be the world's tallest at 52 feet.[10]


Janesville is located at 42°41′2″N 89°0′59″W / 42.68389°N 89.01639°W / 42.68389; -89.01639 (42.68411, -89.016654).[11]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.1 square miles (72.8 km²), of which, 27.5 square miles (71.3 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.5 km²) of it (2.10%) is water. Janesville is divided by the Rock River.


As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 59,498 residents, 23,894 occupied housing units, and 15,743 families in the city. The population density was 2,160.6 people per square mile (834.1/km²). There were 25,083 housing units at an average density of 910.9/sq mi (351.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.27% White, 1.26% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.96% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.02% from other races, and 1.22% from two or more races. 2.64% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 23,894 households, 32.7% had children under the age of 18 living in them, 51.1% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals, with 9.7% individuals aged 65 years or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,961, and the median income for a family was $55,133. Males had a median income of $40,910 versus $26,423 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,224. About 4.3% of families and 6.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.1% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 and over.


Twenty percent of Wisconsin's buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places can be found in Janesville.[13] The 1857 Lincoln-Tallman House, which models the Italian Villa-style architecture, is one of 34 sites on the Register.[14] Abraham Lincoln slept there for two nights. The Columbus Circle neighborhood became Janesville's tenth historic district in 2005. The former Janesville Public Library,[15] a Carnegie library built in 1902, was designed by J.T.W. Jennings.


Janesville operates a bus system, the Janesville Transit System (JTS), which also connects with neighboring Beloit and Milton. Van Galder Bus Company (a Coach USA company), based in Janesville, operates a regional bus service between Madison and downtown Chicago, Chicago O'Hare Airport, and Midway Airport.

Interstate 90/39 passes through Janesville, as do U.S. Hwy 14 and 51 and state Hwy 26 and 11. Just south of Janesville is Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.


The Janesville Gazette, owned by Bliss Communications, is one of two daily newspapers in Rock County, Wisconsin (the Beloit Daily News[16] being the other), and serves a regional market stretching into Walworth County. Delavan-based Community Shoppers, Inc. publishes the bi-weekly Janesville Messenger.[17]

Janesville has two television stations licensed to the city; CW affiliate WBUW (Channel 57), which has its offices and transmitter in Madison and serves all of south-central Wisconsin, and W65EE (Channel 65), a low-power translator station of the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Many radio stations also serve Janesville.


Rock Aqua Jays

Janesville is known as "Wisconsin's Park Place" or "City of Parks". Its 2,015-acre (8.15 km2) park system includes 53 improved parks, as well as boat launches, golf courses, and nature trails.[18] This is one of the highest acreages per capita in Wisconsin.[citation needed]

Janesville has a public, internationally-themed botanical garden, Rotary Gardens, that is open during the summer months. It is home to numerous weddings and group gatherings.

Traxler Park is home to the Rock Aqua Jays, a water ski team which has been U.S. national champion 15 times. The team originated and regularly hosts the National Show Ski championships. Traxler Park is also home to the Fourth of July festivities.

Other major parks include Riverside Park, a recreational park along the Rock River including a golf course and a segment of the Ice Age Trail; Rockport Park, largely undeveloped, including the municipal swimming pool and Peace Park; Monterey Park, including the Big Rock, an early natural landmark signalling a good ford of the Rock River (and the namesake of the county, but not the river), as well as a sports stadium used by the school system; Lustig Park, used for a disc golf course; and Palmer Park, which includes a 9-hole golf course and Camden Park (an accessible play area). Most of the parks in the city are linked by a paved bike trail, which will eventually connect to Beloit.[18]


A basketball game between cross-town rivals, Joseph A. Craig High School and George S. Parker High School

The Janesville School District[19] has twelve elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools and five charter schools. The Janesville Academy for International Studies, a charter high school that focuses on teaching global perspectives, and the Guide Language Center, which offers over 10 foreign languages, are both located downtown. TAGOS Leadership Academy is a project-based charter school that is located in Arrow Park. In addition, there are a number of parochial schools throughout the city.

The Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped[20] has been located in Janesville since 1850. A two-year community college, the University of Wisconsin–Rock County, located on the southwest side of Janesville, is part of the University of Wisconsin System. A two-year technical college, Blackhawk Technical College, is located midway between Janesville and Beloit; Blackhawk also offers degree programs through Upper Iowa University

Hedberg Public Library

The library began in 1865 as a privately supported reading room for the Young Men's Library Association. After a referendum passed in 1884, it became a public library that was housed in rented quarters. In 1903, a new building was constructed with $30,000 from Andrew Carnegie and other donors. The city also agreed to appropriate $3,000 for library operations. The library then moved to its first official home across from the Rock County Court House on Main Street. When it outgrew these quarters in the early 1960s, a new library was built in 1968 at 316 S. Main Street.

Just 20 years later, the library began planning for expanded space. With $4.6 million donated by Don and Gerry Hedberg, local philanthropists, as well as city and other donated monies, an expanded and completely renovated library was opened in 1996. Janesville's public library was then renamed Hedberg Public Library in honor of its largest contributors.[21]

Business and industry

Janesville's largest employer is the Mercy Health System, followed by the Janesville School District.[22] Other major employers include SSI Technologies, Bourns Automotive, and the hazardous materials equipment distributor Lab Safety Supply. A Simmons Bedding Company factory and other manufacturing companies are also major employers. Janesville-based Swing'n'Slide, a maker of wood-and-plastic playground equipment, is a subsidiary of Playcore, Inc. Janesville is also the home of Hufcor (formerly Hough Shade Company), a manufacturer of room dividers that markets internationally; Gray's Brewing, maker of boutique beers and soft drinks.

Regional employers include Blain's Farm and Fleet, a three-state retail chain with headquarters and a distribution center in Janesville; and Woodman's Food Market, a regional supermarket chain, which built its first store in Janesville.

On June 3, 2008, General Motors announced plans to close the Janesville assembly plant as part of a significant restructuring effort.[23] Begun in 1919, when GM bought the Janesville Machine Company and merged it with the Samson Tractor Company, the Janesville plant was the oldest General Motors plant in North America. It assembled large trucks and sport utility vehicles,[24] which have declined in popularity as gasoline prices increased. The Janesville GM plant was closed in December 2008. Its last produced vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe sport utility vehicle, rolled off the assembly line on December 23, 2008.

The Parker Pen Company was founded in Janesville; at one time its Main Street factory was the largest writing instrument plant in the world. The company later purchased Manpower, Inc., but eventually sold the pen business to Gillette and no longer operates in Janesville. It is now owned by the British company, Sanford. The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded in Janesville in 1857 but moved to Milwaukee two years later.

The Janesville Mall redeveloped in the late 1990s, and in 1998 Pine Tree Plaza opened. In November 2006, a Super Wal-Mart and a Sam's Club opened after a period of controversy. The site of the former Janesville Oasis, known for Bessie, a large fiberglass cow at its entrance, began redevelopment in 2007; the anchor tenant is a Super Menards. Bessie the cow was spared by popular demand.[25][26]


There are four Roman Catholic parishes in Janesville, all part of the Diocese of Madison. The oldest is St. Patrick's Parish, established in a log chapel in 1844 when there were only six Catholic families in Janesville. St. Patrick's present church was built of cream colored brick in 1863 and is located at 315 Cherry Street. Located on a hill near the center of town, the architecturally prominent Nativity of Mary Parish (St. Mary's) was organized in 1876 by German immigrants who wanted a parish of their own. The present red brick structure was completed in 1902. The remaining two Janesville parishes include St. John Vianney Parish located on East Racine Street and St. William Parish on the near west side.

The city is also home to many other Christian churches including Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Baptist, and others. The Seventh Day Baptist General Conference has its offices in Janesville; the denomination's nearest church is in Milton. All Saints Anglican Catholic Church[27] a part of the continuing Anglican movement, is located in a historic church near downtown that was built by German Lutherans in the 1880s.

There are three cemeteries in Janesville: Oak Hill, a Protestant cemetery, Mount Olivet, a Roman Catholic cemetery, and Milton Lawns, a non-demominational cemetery.

The Gideon Bible organization was founded at the Janesville YMCA in 1899 by Janesville resident John H. Nicholson and a Beloit man after they had shared a Boscobel hotel room.[28]

In 1994, a white buffalo dubbed Miracle was born at the Heider family farm just outside Janesville. Miracle lived until 2004. She was frequently visited by Native American ceremonial groups because of sacred symbolism of white buffaloes in many Native American religions. Another unrelated white buffalo, named Miracle's Second Chance, was born at the same farm in 2006, but died in a lightning strike later that year.


In fall 2009, Janesville became home to the Janesville Jets, an expansion team in the North American Hockey League. Home games will be played at the Janesville Ice Arena. The Janesville Cubs, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Chicago Cubs, was based in Janesville from 1941 to 1942 and 1946 to 1953. (They were called the Bears in 1946).

Notable natives and residents

See also


  1. ^ a b "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Template.cfm?Section=Find_a_County&Template=/cffiles/counties/usamap.cfm. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ US Census: Places in Wisconsin listed alphabetically
  3. ^ About Janesville's Past
  4. ^ The History of Janesville Wisconsin
  5. ^ ALHN-Rock Co., WI-History of Janesville Township
  6. ^ FIRST - State Fair in Wisconsin - Janesville, WI - First of its kind on Waymarking.com
  7. ^ WisBar | Pioneers in Law: Rhoda Lavinia Goodell
  8. ^ http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/forestry/publications/pdf/AnchorTreeBook/Chapters/037%20JanesvilleHangingTree.pdf
  9. ^ Review/Television; The Adventures of Geraldo Rivera - New York Times
  10. ^ Janesville Wisconsin Fun Facts
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  12. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  13. ^ Janesville Convention and Visitors Bureau | Janesville History
  14. ^ NRIS Search by location
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ http://www.beloitdailynews.com/
  17. ^ Community Shoppers Free Newspaper
  18. ^ a b Janesville Convention and Visitors Bureau | Parks & Recreation
  19. ^ School District of Janesville Home Page - Janesville, Wisconsin
  20. ^ Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  21. ^ A Brief History of Hedberg Public Library
  22. ^ WAGES
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ Janesville Convention and Visitors Bureau | Tour Opportunities
  25. ^ WJVL (June 16, 2008). "Bessie the Cow is back!". http://wjvl.com/photos/galleries/2008/jun/16/bessie-cow-back/. Retrieved 7 April 2009. 
  26. ^ Nelesen, Marcia (June 16, 2008). "City to recognize "Bessie the Cow Day"". The Janesville Gazette. http://gazettextra.com/news/2008/jun/07/city-recognize-bessie-cow-day/. Retrieved 7 April 2009. 
  27. ^ All Saints Anglican Catholic Church,
  28. ^ The Gideons International
  29. ^ a b c http://museum.dva.state.wi.us/Res_honorrecipients_List.asp
  30. ^ http://militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=10746
  31. ^ http://militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=8576
  32. ^ http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=C000676
  33. ^ Common Cause in Wisconsin: Tim Cullen to join CC/WI state governing board
  34. ^ Medal of Honor Recipients - World War II (A-F)
  35. ^ http://militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=19970
  36. ^ Crenshaw, Albert B. (July 30, 1990). "Navigating Sallie Mae's Tricky Waters; Lawrence Hough Takes Helm at at Time of Tough Choices". The Washington Post. 
  37. ^ Stylus Interview
  38. ^ Medal of Honor Recipients - Indian Wars Period

External links


Simple English

City of Janesville
Downtown Janesville looking south on Main Street (2004)
Nickname(s): "City of Parks"
"Wisconsin's Park Place"
"Bower City"
Coordinates: 42°41′2″N 89°0′59″W / 42.68389°N 89.01639°W / 42.68389; -89.01639
Municipality City
Incorporated 1853
 - City manager Eric Levitt
 - Total 72.8 km2 (28.1 sq mi)
 - Land 71.2 km2 (27.5 sq mi)
 - Water 1.6 km2 (0.6 sq mi)
Population (2000)
 - Total 59,498
 Density 834.2/km2 (2,160.6/sq mi)
Time zone Central (UTC−6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
Area code(s) 608
Website www.ci.janesville.wi.us

Janesville is a city in the state of Wisconsin in the United States.[1] It is the county seat of Rock County[1] 59,498 people were living in Janesville as of the 2000 census.[2] Janesville has an area of 48.1 square miles, says the United States Census Bureau.


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