Racine, Wisconsin: Wikis


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Racine, Wisconsin
—  City  —

Nickname(s): The Belle City of the Lakes[1]
Location of Racine, Wisconsin
Coordinates: 42°43′34″N 87°48′21″W / 42.72611°N 87.80583°W / 42.72611; -87.80583Coordinates: 42°43′34″N 87°48′21″W / 42.72611°N 87.80583°W / 42.72611; -87.80583
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Racine
 - Mayor John Dickert
 - Total 18.7 sq mi (48.4 km2)
 - Land 15.5 sq mi (40.2 km2)
 - Water 3.1 sq mi (8.1 km2)
Elevation 617 ft (188 m)
Population (2006)
 - Total 79,592
 Density 5,267.5/sq mi (2,033.8/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 262
FIPS code 55-66000[2]
GNIS feature ID 1572015[3]
Website www.cityofracine.org/

Racine is a city in and the county seat of Racine County, Wisconsin, United States, located on the shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Root River.[4] As of the 2006 census, the city had a population of 81,592.[5][6]



On October 10, 1699, a fleet of eight canoes bearing a party of French explorers entered the mouth of Root River. These were the first Europeans known to visit what is now Racine County. Led by Jonathan Paradise, they founded a trading post in the area that eventually became a small settlement on Lake Michigan near where the Root River empties into Lake Michigan. "Racine" is French for "root".

In 1832, just after the Blackhawk War, the area surrounding Racine was settled by Yankees from upstate New York.

The mouth of the Root River, Racine, Wisconsin

Gilbert Knapp, a Lake boat captain in 1834, founded the settlement of Port Gilbert at the place where the Root River empties into Lake Michigan. The area was previously called Kipi Kawi and Chippecotton by the indigenous peoples, both names for the Root River. The name "Port Gilbert" was never really accepted, and in 1841 the community was incorporated as the village of Racine. After Wisconsin's statehood was granted in 1848, the new legislature voted in August to incorporate Racine as a city.

In 1852, Racine College, an Episcopal college, was founded; it closed in 1933.[7]

Before the Civil War, Racine was well known for its strong opposition to slavery, with many slaves escaping to freedom via the Underground Railroad passing through the city. In 1854 Joshua Glover, an escaped slave who had made a home in Racine, was arrested by federal marshals and jailed in Milwaukee. One hundred men from Racine, and ultimately 5,000 Wisconsinites, rallied and broke into the jail to free him. He was helped to escape to Canada. Glover's rescue gave rise to many legal complications and a great deal of litigation. This eventually led to the Wisconsin Supreme Court declaring the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 unconstitutional, and later, the Wisconsin State Legislature refusing to recognize the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Waves of immigrants, including Danes, Germans, and Czechs, began to settle in Racine between the Civil War and the First World War. African Americans started arriving in large numbers during World War I, as they did in other Midwestern industrial towns, and Mexicans migrated to Racine from roughly 1925 onward.

Unitarians from New England initially dominated Racine's religious life, as they did in other parts of the Upper Midwest before 1880. Racine's Emmaus Lutheran Church, the oldest Danish Lutheran Church in North America, was founded on August 22, 1851. Originally a founding member of the Danish American Lutheran Church, it has subsequently been a member of the United Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (UDELCA), the American Lutheran Church (ALC), and, since 1988, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). There was also a large Catholic movement to the city, opening up churches for their own ethnicity, such as St. Stanislaus (Polish), St. Rose (Irish), Holy Name (German), St. Patrick (Irish), Sacred Heart (Italian), St. Joseph (German), St. Mary (German), Holy Trinity (Slovak), St. Casimir (Lithuanian), and others. As years passed, populations moved and St. Stanislaus, Holy Name, Holy Trinity, St. Rose, and St. Casimir, all merged in 1998, forming St. Richard. With new waves of people arriving, older parishes received a boost from the Hispanic community, which formed Cristo Rey, re-energizing St. Patrick's into the strong Catholic community of today.

Racine was a factory town almost from the very beginning. The first industry in Racine County included the manufacture of fanning mills, machines that separated wheat grain from chaff. Racine also had its share of captains of industry, including J. I. Case (heavy equipment), and S. C. Johnson & Son (cleaning and chemical products). Racine's harbor was central to the shipping industry in the late 1800s. Racine was also an early car manufacturing center. One of the world's first automobiles was built there in 1871 or 1872 by Dr. J. W. Cathcart,[8] as was the Pennington Victoria tricycle,[9] the Mitchell,[10] and the Case.[11]

In 1887, malted milk was invented in Racine by English immigrant William Horlick, and Horlicks remains a global brand. The garbage disposal was invented in 1927 by architect John Hammes of Racine, who founded the company InSinkErator, which still produces millions of garbage disposers a year. In addition, Racine is the home of S.C. Johnson & Son, formerly Johnson's Wax, whose headquarters was designed in 1936 by Frank Lloyd Wright, who also designed the Wingspread Conference Center and two homes in Racine. The city is also home to the DremelCorporation and Twin Disc.

Racine claims to be the largest North American settlement of Danes outside of Greenland. The city is particularly known for its Danish pastries, especially kringle. Several local bakeries have been featured on the Food Network.[12][13]

Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built Johnson Wax Headquarters building in Racine. The building was and still is considered a marvel of design innovation, despite its many practical annoyances such as leaks. Wright urged then-president Hib Johnson to build the structure outside of Racine, a city Wright thought of as "backwater." Hib Johnson refused to have the Johnson Wax Headquarters sited anywhere other than Racine, and in a compromise Wright built it in Racine, but without windows.

The city is known for its large prom celebration, at which students from all the high schools in the city participate in an after prom party. This was featured on the radio show This American Life in Episode #186 "Prom", which originally aired on June 8, 2001.[14]

Racine was recently named one of the "10 great places to fly your patriotic colors" by USA Today.[15]


Racine is located at 42°43′34″N 87°48′21″W / 42.72611°N 87.80583°W / 42.72611; -87.80583 (42.726052, -87.805873).[16]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.7 square miles (48.4 km²), of which, 15.5 square miles (40.2 km²) of it is land and 3.1 square miles (8.1 km²) of it (16.76%) is water.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1850 5,107
1860 7,822 53.2%
1870 9,880 26.3%
1880 16,031 62.3%
1890 21,014 31.1%
1900 29,102 38.5%
1910 38,002 30.6%
1920 58,593 54.2%
1930 67,542 15.3%
1940 67,195 −0.5%
1950 71,193 5.9%
1960 89,144 25.2%
1970 95,162 6.8%
1980 85,725 −9.9%
1990 84,298 −1.7%
2000 81,855 −2.9%
Est. 2008 82,196 [17] 0.4%
Source: U.S. Census[18]

As of the census of 2000,[5] there were 81,855 people, 31,449 households, and 20,405 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,267.6 people per square mile (2,033.7/km²). There were 33,414 housing units at an average density of 2,150.3/sq mi (830.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 60.91% White, 20.32% African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 7.14% from other races, and 2.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 12.95% of the population.

There were 31,449 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.2% were married couples living together, 17.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.1% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.7% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,164, and the median income for a family was $45,150. Males had a median income of $35,079 versus $24,279 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,705. About 10.8% of families and 13.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.6% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those aged 65 or over.


The government of the City of Racine is divided into executive and legislative branches. The mayor is the chief executive, elected by general election for a term of four years. The mayor appoints commissioners and other officials who oversee the various departments, subject to Common Council approval.

In addition to the mayor, Racine's other citywide elected official is the Municipal Judge. The City Council, the legislative branch, is made up of 15 aldermen, one elected from each district in the city. The council enacts local ordinances and approves the city budget. Government priorities and activities are established in a budget ordinance usually adopted each November. The council takes official action through the passage of ordinances and resolutions.



Higher education

  • University of Wisconsin–Parkside is located on the border of Racine and Kenosha. Because of its location, the two cities fought over naming the university. Since it was located in Kenosha, that city wanted it named the University of Wisconsin–Kenosha; however, Racine wanted to name it the University of Wisconsin–Racine. To accommodate both cities, the university was named for its location near Petrifying Springs Park in Kenosha County.[citation needed]
  • Gateway Technical College

Public schools

Racine's public schools are managed by the Racine Unified School District, which oversees twenty-one elementary schools, eight middle schools and six high schools with a combined student population of around 21,000 students.

Private schools

Elementary schools

  • St. John's Lutheran
  • St. Lucy's
  • St. Edward's
  • St. Joseph's
  • St. Rita's
  • St. Sebastian's

Middle schools

High schools

Notable buildings

Wind Point Lighthouse


Racine is served by the daily newspaper The Journal Times [1], which is the namesake (but not current owner) of radio station WRJN (1400). The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publishes a Racine-specific page on Thursdays and a Racine County section on Sundays, while The Insider News covers issues specific to the African-American community. Racinenews.org offers web-based coverage for Racine, as does the opinion/editorial "news" blog RacinePost.com

The city has one television station owned by Weigel Broadcasting, WBME-TV (Channel 49), a station that airs classic drama and sitcom reruns under the Me TV branding, and had its analog transmitter just north of the Milwaukee County line in Oak Creek. For all intents and purposes the station serves all of southeastern Wisconsin, with the station offices located in West Allis and the station's current transmitter is located on the Weigel tower in Milwaukee's Lincoln Park. WBME airs a Sunday morning public affairs program called Racine & Me, which is devoted to topics of interest to Racine residents.

Other radio stations serving the area are adult contemporary WEZY (92.1) and urban contemporary WKKV (100.7). WEZY specifically targets Racine and Kenosha and is locally owned, while WKKV is a station owned by Clear Channel Communications that, although licensed to Racine and having a transmitter in north-central Racine County, is targeted towards Milwaukee audiences and has its offices in Greenfield.

Sister cities

Racine has six sister cities:[19][20]

Notable people from Racine


  1. ^ "Racine, Racine Co.". The Wisconsin Historical Society. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=4446&term_type_id=2&term_type_text=Places&letter=R. Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  2. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. http://geonames.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "Racine, Wisconsin (WI), United States". AllRefer.com. http://reference.allrefer.com/gazetteer/R/R00086-racine.html. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  5. ^ a b "Racine city, Wisconsin - Fact Sheet". U.S. Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFFacts?_event=&geo_id=16000US5566000&_geoContext=&_street=&_county=&_cityTown=&_state=04000US55&_zip=&_lang=en&_sse=on&ActiveGeoDiv=geoSelect&_useEV=&pctxt=fph&pgsl=160&_submenuId=factsheet_1&ds_name=ACS_2005_SAFF&_ci_nbr=null&qr_name=null&reg=&_keyword=&_industry=. Retrieved 2007-07-04. 
  6. ^ "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. 
  7. ^ http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/wmh/archives/search.aspx?area=browse&volume=35&articleID=19098
  8. ^ Clymer, Floyd. Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925 (New York: Bonanza Books, 1950), p.2 & 153.
  9. ^ It had no less than two 4.75 hp (3.5 kW) engines. Clymer, p.6.
  10. ^ Before 1926. Clymer, p.36.
  11. ^ Also before 1926. Clymer, p.153.
  12. ^ "Road Tasted". FoodNetwork.com. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_rd/episode/0,2857,FOOD_26716_45958,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  13. ^ "Food Finds". FoodNetwork.com. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_fi/episode/0,1976,FOOD_9962_18881,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  14. ^ "This American Life". ThisLife.org. http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=875. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  15. ^ "USA Today". usatoday.com. http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/10great/2008-06-26-fourth-of-july-parades_N.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  16. ^ "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. 
  17. ^ "Racine city, Wisconsin". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFPopulation?_event=ChangeGeoContext&geo_id=16000US5566000&_geoContext=01000US|04000US55|16000US5558800&_street=&_county=Racine&_cityTown=Racine&_state=04000US55&_zip=&_lang=en&_sse=on&ActiveGeoDiv=geoSelect&_useEV=&pctxt=fph&pgsl=010&_submenuId=population_0&ds_name=null&_ci_nbr=null&qr_name=null&reg=null%3Anull&_keyword=&_industry=. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  18. ^ Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (July 2004) (PDF). The Population of Southeastern Wisconsin. Technical Report Number 11 (4th Edition). http://www.sewrpc.org/publications/techrep/tr-011_population_southeastern_wisconsin.pdf. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  19. ^ "Sister Cities International". http://www.sister-cities.org/icrc/directory/usa/WI. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  20. ^ "City finds newest sister city in Mexico" "Racine Journal-Times". http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2008/06/29/local_news/doc486716ed7e094179393084.txt "City finds newest sister city in Mexico". Retrieved 2008-07-02. 

External links


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