Stevens Point was named after its founder, George Stevens, who ran several saloons on what is today known as "The Square." Loggers on the Wisconsin River found this a convenient stopping point, as the river bends slightly and one could tell from far upstream whether Stevens' point was open for business. A local legend also claims that Stevens Point is a corruption of "Stevens Pint", a reference to Stevens' alleged practice of serving whiskey by the pint.
The city is home to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP), a small university with almost 10,000 students known for its graduate and undergraduate natural resource degrees, and its forestry, paper science, biology, and teaching degrees.
Stevens Point hosts the world's largest trivia contest, run by UWSP's radio station, WWSP-FM. The contest usually involves over 12,000 contestants divided up into 400-plus teams. The contest is generally run during the last weekend of April every year and lasts for 54 straight hours.
Together with surrounding communities, the Stevens Point micropolitan area was, according to the 2000 census, home to 48,123 people. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau's Stevens Point Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Portage County (2000 population: 67,182).
Stevens Point was listed in Relocate-America's Top 10 Best Places to Live in 2007 and 2008 for the United States.
It is surrounded by several smaller villages and towns, including Plover, Whiting, Custer, Park Ridge, Stockton, and the Town of Hull. On average, the temperature ranges from 20° to 80° Fahrenheit. All four seasons can be distinctly observed, with snow falling most heavily in December and January and temperatures rising to their average summer levels of about 70° in July and August.
There were 9,305 households out of which 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.8% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.0% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 18.2% under the age of 18, 30.8% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 15.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $38,178, and the median income for a family was $53,176. Males had a median income of $37,894 versus $28,114 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,510. About 6.3% of families and 17.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.8% of those under the age of 18 and 8.0% of those 65 and older.
Stevens Point is home to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, established in 1894 as the Stevens Point Normal School. The university currently enrolls approximately 8700 students in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. It boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 20:1 and has the highest percentage of undergraduate courses taught by regular faculty in the entire UW System. It is consistently named one of the top Public Midwestern Universities-Master's in U.S. News and World Report’s College Rankings.
Other educational institutions include Mid-State Technical College, Stevens Point Area Public School District and Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools. High Schools include Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH) and Pacelli High School. Middle and Junior high schools are P.J. Jacobs, Ben Franklin, and St. Peters. Elementary schools are St. Stans and St. Steves (Catholic) and Bannach, Jefferson, Kennedy, Madison, McDill, McKinley, Plover-Whiting, Roosevelt, and Washington Elementary schools (public).
There are also members of the Bahá'í Faith in the city and county.
Additional points of interest include:
To the south of Stevens Point is the Village of Plover which is developing into a regional destination for hotels, shopping, and restaurants. The city is located along the Wisconsin River, at the intersection of Interstate Highway 39 and US Highway 10. Stevens Point is a midway point for affluent tourists heading to Wisconsin's North Woods from large cites such as Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago. Major retailers are moving into the area, large hotels are being built, and many restaurants are pouring into the Stevens Point area.
Stevens Point is located in the geographic center of Wisconsin, making it a popular destination for state conventions and state youth sporting events including soccer and hockey. The hospitality industry is rapidly growing in Stevens Point with the addition or remodeling of over 500 hotel rooms since 2004.
The area has 20 developed parks, a 26-mile bicycle and jogging trail (The Green Circle Trail) that surrounds and winds through the city, an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course, a premier country club, public and private elementary/high school systems, a community theater group (cwACT), a children's museum, many small businesses, churches of various denominations, and a group of museums run by the Portage County Historical Society, including the Beth Israel Congregation Museum, located in the former synagogue (the synagogue has been defunct since 1985). City-wide events range from the Fourth of July Riverfront Rendezvous to the Portage County Cultural Festival
The downtown area was designated a "Wisconsin Main Street Community" and offers unique specialty shops, a wide variety of restaurants, an enclosed shopping mall, and many offices. The city and county offices are located downtown as well as a major bank regional headquarters and two major insurance companies. The downtown also offers a vibrant nightlife on "The Square" that is very popular with college students.
The city is served by two airports. Commercial service is available through Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA), which is located midway between Stevens Point and Wausau. This airport is served by three major airlines. General aviation, air cargo, and charter flights utilize the Stevens Point Municipal Airport (STE).