French missionaries visited the site of Milwaukee in the 17th century, but it was not until 1795 that Jacques Vieau established a fur-trading post there. The first permanent white settler, Vieau's son-in-law, Solomon Juneau, an agent of the American Fur Company, made his home there in 1818. The settlement merged with several neighboring villages in 1838 to form Milwaukee, and the city was incorporated in 1846. A large wave of German immigrants arrived after 1848 and contributed greatly to the city's political, economic, and cultural development.
The origins of the word “Milwaukee” are disputed; it may come from the Potawatomi “Mahn-ah-wauk,” meaning council grounds of the Potawatomi; “Mah-an-wauk-seepe,” meaning gathering place of rivers; or the Algonquian “Milo-aki,” meaning beautiful land.
Milwaukee is one of the great industrial centers in the country and one of the largest Great Lakes ports. Manufacturing remains strong, and Milwaukee manufacturers are national leaders in lithographic commercial printing and the production of medical diagnostic instruments, small gasoline engines, malt beverages, iron and steel forgings, mining machinery, and robotics. Milwaukee's high-tech manufacturing community is one of the largest among the nation's major metropolitan areas.
Though Milwaukee was once known as a “beer town,” only a small percentage of its workforce is now involved in beer production. However, beer still plays an important role, and almost 11% of the nation's malt beverage is produced there.
See also Encyclopedia: Milwaukee.
Selected famous natives and residents: