Downtown Wausau from Rib Mountain
Location in Wisconsin
|- Mayor||Jim Tipple|
|- City||46.0 km2 (17.8 sq mi)|
|- Land||42.7 km2 (16.5 sq mi)|
|- Water||3.3 km2 (1.3 sq mi) 7.15%|
|Elevation||368 m (1,207 ft)|
|- Density||899.7/km2 (2,330.7/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Central (UTC-6)|
|- Summer (DST)||Central (UTC-5)|
Wausau (pronounced /ˈwɔːsɔː/, us dict: wô′·sô) is a city in and the county seat of Marathon County, Wisconsin, United States. The Wisconsin River divides the city. The city is adjacent to the town of Wausau.
According to the 2000 census, Wausau had a population of 38,426 people. It is the core city of the Wausau Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes all of Marathon County and had a population of 125,834 at the 2000 census. It is the 297th largest MSA in the United States. Besides Wausau, other significant communities in the metropolitan area include Schofield, Rothschild, Weston, Kronenwetter, and the town of Rib Mountain.
The Wisconsin River is what first drew settlers to the area during the mid-1800s, which was known as "Big Bull Flats" or "Big Bull Falls" by the original French explorers. The long rapids created many bubbles (bulle, in French). A treaty with the Chippewa Indians in 1836 transferred the land in the area to federal ownership. Wausau means "a faraway place" or "a place which can be seen from far away" in the Ojibwe language.
George Stevens, who lent his name to Stevens Point, a city south of Wausau, began processing the pine forests into lumber in 1840. Subsequently, other sawmills along the Wisconsin River began to spring up as well. By 1846, Walter McIndoe arrived and took the lead in the local business and community. His efforts helped, in part, to establish Marathon County in 1850.
Churches, schools, industry and social organizations began to flourish with the state granting the city a charter in 1872, and with elections held the first Tuesday in April.
The residents elected August Kickbusch, Sr. as their first mayor in 1874. Five years earlier, Kickbusch had returned to his homeland of Germany and brought back to America with him 702 people, all of whom are believed to have settled in the Wausau Area. Kickbusch founded the A. Kickbusch Wholesale Grocery Company, a family business carried on by his grandson, August Kickbusch II. In 1917, August Kickbusch II purchased a modest four-square style house at 513 Grant Street and undertook massive renovations, adding two sun rooms, arcaded windows and a tiled porch in the Mediterranean style, a formal classical entrance, and ornate custom-designed chimney crowns. The home is on the national register of historic places as part of the Andrew Warren Historic District.
When the railroad arrived in 1874, Wausau was even more accessible to settlers and industry, which was still mostly focused on lumber. This allowed the city to continue to grow and flourish, even as other villages and towns in the area were forced to close because of the rapidly vanishing forests and closing of the lumber mills.
Wausau's favorable location on the Wisconsin River was partly responsible for the city's survival. Further, the economy was reformed and diversified in the early 1900s by an insurance group called Employers Insurance of Wausau, who were later known as the Wausau Group or Wausau Insurance Companies. Its logo, first introduced in 1954, was the downtown Milwaukee Road railroad depot, which was set against the backdrop of the community's skyline. This company put Wausau in the minds of people across the country. The Wausau Insurance Company is now a part of Liberty Mutual after being purchased by Liberty Mutual. It is no longer known as Wausau Insurance Company but is now called Liberty Mutual.
As with the arrival of the railroad, the arrival of the automobile helped improve roads in the area.
The stock market crash in 1929 had a major effect on the Wausau area. Many industries were forced to cut back by laying off and dismissing workers or by closing all together. After decades of positive growth, the city virtually ground to a halt. However, under the New Deal, Wausau was significantly modernized. And after World War II, the city once again continued to grow in industry, education, recreation, and retail, more so than in population.
In 1983, the Wausau Center shopping mall opened and still exists today. By the mid- to late-1990s, the city of Wausau began to purchase and develop more of the West Industrial Park to meet the needs of the expanding economy and companies.
In the late 1990s, the city tore down a number of aging buildings on a square in the center of downtown, creating what is known locally at the 400 Block, an open, grassy block with paved sidewalks crossing it. The square is a focal point for summer festivals and lends a certain charm to the city's quaint downtown district.
By the end of the twentieth century, the Wausau City Council had begun to implement the Redevelopment Plan, or the Wausau Central Business District Master Plan. This included redevelopment and economic structuring of downtown Wausau. Significant school construction in recent years has occurred in response to changing demographics.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.8 square miles (46.0 km²), of which, 16.5 square miles (42.7 km²) of it is land and 1.3 square miles (3.3 km²) of it (7.15%) is water. The city is located at an altitude of 364.2 meters (1,195 ft). Wausau is close the center of the northern half of the western hemisphere. Just west of Wausau, 45 degrees latitude meets 90 degrees longitude, which is exactly halfway between the equator and the north pole and a quarter of the way around the world from the prime meridian.
Wausau's climate is classified as halfway between temperate and subarctic (boreal and hemiboreal). Wausau is built on or around a hemiboreal forest which has some of the characteristics of a boreal forest. They also share some of the features of the temperate zone forests to the south. Coniferous trees predominate in the hemiboreal zone, but a significant number of deciduous species are found there as well.
The area has four distinct seasons.
Wausau is the larger principal city of the Wausau-Merrill CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Wausau metropolitan area (Marathon County) and the Merrill micropolitan area (Lincoln County), which had a combined population of 155,475 at the 2000 census.
As of the census of 2000, there were 38,426 people, 15,678 households, and 9,328 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,330.7 people per square mile (899.7/km²). There were 16,668 housing units at an average density of 1,011.0/sq mi (390.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 85.91% White, 0.54% Black or African American, 0.59% Native American, 11.41% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 1.21% from two or more races. 1.04% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 15,678 households out of which 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.5% were non-families. 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,831, and the median income for a family was $47,065. Males had a median income of $33,076 versus $24,303 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,227. About 7.2% of families and 11.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.1% of those under age 18 and 8.4% of those age 65 or over.
Wausau has a mayor-council form of government. Twelve elected alderpersons comprise the city council, each representing one district of the city.
Nearly one third of the Marathon County economy is based in manufacturing, and the balance of service and industry provides a stable and productive work force. Prominent industries include paper manufacturing, insurance, home manufacturing, and tourism. The Wausau region has a consistently lower than average unemployment rate and continues a steady growth in job creation and economic viability among manufacturers and service providers alike. Wausau has 12 banks with 41 branch locations, three trust companies and three holding companies in the metropolitan area. There are also 13 open membership credit unions with 18 branch locations.
Wausau is home to Northcentral Technical College and the University of Wisconsin–Marathon County, both two-year colleges. Wausau is also home to a number of satellite campuses of other colleges, including University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, Upper Iowa University, Lakeland College, Concordia University Wisconsin, Rasmussen College, and Globe University.
Public schools are part of the Wausau School District. The main dividing line that is used to place students is the Wisconsin River, which runs north to south through the city. The Wausau School District has 14 elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools. The Wausau East High School sports teams are the Lumberjacks, the Wausau West High School the Warriors.
Wausau Area Montessori Charter School comprises grades 1-6 and is housed at Horace Mann Middle School. Enrollment for the 2007-2008 school year finds WAMCS increasing from 50 students in 2006-2007 to 80 students the following year. Two kindergarten classes are available at the Montessori Children's Village and Rib Mountain Montessori.
The city's Roman Catholic parochial schools are known as the Newman Catholic Schools. These include Newman Elementary Schools at St. Anne, St. Michael and St. Mark, Newman Middle School at St. Matthew's, and Newman Catholic High School. Newman High's sport teams are the Cardinals. Trinity Lutheran is a Missouri Synod Lutheran grade school.
The Marathon County Public Library (MCPL) - Wausau Headquarters, located downtown, near the Wausau Center Mall is the largest library in the Wausau area. The MCPL - Wausau Headquarters was formed when the County and City libraries merged in 1974; it serves as the headquarters for the Marathon County Public Library system, which encompasses all public libraries in Marathon County, including eight branch libraries. The Marathon County Historical Museum also maintains a library.
||U.S. 51 Northbound US 51 to Woodruff, Wisconsin. Southbound, US 51 routes to Stevens Point.|
||I-39 Southbound, routes to Stevens Point.|
||WIS 52 travels east to Antigo.|
||WIS 29 travels east to Green Bay, and west to Abbotsford and Chippewa Falls.|
The Wisconsin Woodchucks baseball team of the Northwoods League, an NCAA summer baseball league, plays home games at the Athletic Park in Wausau. The Wisconsin Woodchucks were formerly known as the Wausau Woodchucks. Woody Woodchuck is the mascot of the Woodchucks.
Granite Peak Ski Area offers downhill skiing at nearby Rib Mountain. The 700-foot (210 m) mountain is the highest skiable mountain in the state and the second highest vertical drop in the Midwest. It first became a ski area in 1937, when Wausau residents cleared six runs by hand, installed the nation’s longest ski lift and built a chalet with stone quarried nearby. The newly remodeled historical chalet includes an upstairs lounge with views of the mountain and features live music every Saturday night. Today, Granite Peak has 74 runs and 7 ski lifts. Granite Peak earned Ski Magazine’s #1 ranking in Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Minnesota.
Wausau is also home to a world-class kayak course, having hosted numerous regional, national, and world competitions over the last two decades. It is also home to the Wausau Curling Club with a 5 sheet ice surface.
The only local daily newspaper is the Wausau Daily Herald, with a daily circulation of 21,400 during the week and 27,500 on Sunday. City Pages is a smaller free weekly newspaper. Le Dernier Cri is a monthly newspaper that reports on local business.
Wausau is home to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, known for its "Birds in Art" collection as well as Leigh Yawkey Woodson's heirloom collection of decorative glass.
Getting into God's country is easy! Traveling north and south, Wausau can be reached from I-39/US-51, and traveling east and west, Wausau can be reached by State Highway 29. Wausau can be reached from Minneapolis in about three and a half hours via I-94 and State Highway 29. Milwaukee is about three and a half hours away as well via I-94 and I-39. Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA), 12 miles south of Wausau, provides daily service to and from Detroit (Northwest Airlines), Minneapolis (Northwest Airlines), Chicago O'Hare (American Airlines  or United Airlines). Lamers Bus Lines offers a daily trip to/from Milwaukee via the Fox Valley which may be ticketed through Greyhound (or Amtrak if connecting to a rail leg).
Public transportation is limited in the Wausau Area. Metro Ride (formerly WATS or Wausau Area Transit System) operates eight bus routes in the City of Wausau which run at 30-minute intervals; one bus route in the Village of Weston, which runs at 30-minute intervals; and one bus route to Rothschild and Schofield, which operates at 60-minute intervals. Passengers can transfer between routes at the Metro Ride Transit Center, which is located at 555 Jefferson Street in the downtown Wausau, one block from the Wausau Center Mall. Passengers can also transfer between Route C and Route K at Shopko in Rothschild and between Route E and Route I at Aspirus Clinic in Wausau. Buses are clean and uncrowded but the limited schedule makes them somewhat impractical to all but the most dedicated transit user.
Travel by car is very easy in the Wausau area and the preferred method of transportation. Roads are well maintained and marked. Ample, free, at-door parking is available everywhere outside of the downtown area. Downtown, parking is easy to find and very inexpensive. As the city and surrounding area are oriented north/south, for trips from the far north to far south side or visa versa, it is quicker and easier to use the US 51/I 39 expressway which runs along the west edge of the city.
For a city of its size, Wausau hosts a large number of festivals and activities. For a current listing of activities, visit Wausau Visitors and Convention Bureau web site . One of the largest events annually is Wausau's Artrageous Weekend, usually held the first or second weekend in September (check the Wausau Visitor's and Convention Bureau web site for exact dates). The event has gotten so big that it is held at three venues throughout the city with shuttle bus service between all locations. This event attracts thousands and it will be difficult to obtain lodging in the area that weekend unless one reserves well in advance. There is an extremely strong arts tradition in the Wausau area and the city's old wealth has given very generously to keep the tradition alive and well. The city's Performing Arts Center is in downtown's Grand Theater, a fully restored 1,200 seat house dating from 1927. A recent expansion has created a facility that covers nearly an entire city block and attracts diverse talent. Recent performances included Mozart's Marriage of Figaro by the Bulgarian State Opera and concerts by Mannheim Steamroller and Blues legend B.B. King. See the Wausau Performing Arts Foundation web site for more information .
Like most other American cities, Wausau and the surrounding area is dominated by national chain stores. The 3rd Street pedestrian mall downtown has a number of locally owned stores. The stretch north of Scott Street, in particular, has an off-beat resale shop and a few housewares stores that would fit in any major metro area. For high quality crafts from local artisans, try the Center for the Visual Arts downtown at 427 4th St. (corner of Scott St, phone (715) 842-4545, open Tuesday-Friday 10AM - 5 pm and Saturday-Sunday 12PM - 4PM, www.wausaucva.org). Wausau is known for its dairy industry but most locals buy their cheese and other dairy products at the grocery store. Small country cheese factories where one could see cheese being made are quite rare now but the modern Mullins Cheese factory  has a decent sized shop and windows that overlook the production floor. The factory is located about four miles south of the airport. Exit I-39/US-51 at State Highway 34 and go less than a half mile west to County Highway DB. The factory is less than a half mile south just off County Highway DB at 598 Seagull Drive, Mosinee. Phone (715) 693-3205. Open Monday - Saturday 8 am - 5 pm and Sunday 9 am - 5 pm.
The Wausau Center Mall downtown , with 60 national retailers, is anchored by three department stores. Washington Square, across from the mall, is a renovated department store that is home to a number of locally owned businesses and restaurants on its three floors. National big box retailers tend to cluster along County Highway N/Rib Mountain Drive just north of its junction with US-51 on Wausau's southwest side.
Several very good restaurants in Wausau include the Back When Cafe, the Wright Place and the City Grill Bistro. The Pinewood Supper Club in nearby Mosinee offers "northwoods" dining overlooking a wooded lake.
Lunch Tu-Sa 11AM-3PM, Dinner W-Sa 5:30PM-10PM.
An upscale "martini bar" has opened downtown named III (three) for it's location on Third Street.
Most of the lodging in the Wausau area is similar to what you would find along any Interstate highway but the last ten years have seen an increase in bed and breakfast inns close to downtown as well as one major hotel at its very center. Highest rates tend to be found on weekends during the ski season and during some of the major festivals in summer and autumn. The greatest number of motels can be found at or near the following US-51 exits starting from the south: Business US-51/Rothschild, County Highway NN/North Mountain Road and Stewart Avenue/State Highway 52/Sherman Street. A few options follow.
Additional options can be found at the Wausau Visitors and Convention Bureau web site .
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WAUSAU, a city and the county-seat of Marathon county, Wisconsin, U.S.A., on both banks of the Wisconsin river, about 185 m. N.W. of Milwaukee. Pop. (1890) 9253; (1900) 12,354, of whom 3747 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 16,560. There is a large German element in the population, and two German semi-weekly newspapers are published here. Wausau is served by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul and the Chicago & North-Western railways. The city is built for the most part on a level plateau above the river and extends to the top of high bluffs on either side. It has a fine city hall, a Carnegie library, the Marathon County Court House, a hospital, built by the Sisters of the Divine Saviour, and a Federal Building. In Wausau are a U.S. land office, the Marathon County Training School for Teachers, the Marathon County School of Agriculture and Domestic Science, and a County Asylum for the Chronic Insane. Valuable water-power furnished by the Big Bull Falls of the Wisconsin (in the city) is utilized for manufacturing, and in 1910 water-power sites were being developed on the Wisconsin river immediately above and below the city. In 1905 the factory products were valued at $4,644,457. Wausau had its origin in a logging-camp, established about 1838. In 1840 a saw-mill was built here, and in 1858 the village was incorporated under its present name. After 1880, when Wausau was chartered as a city, its growth was rapid.