A member of the Virginia planter class, he attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), graduating in 1771. Like George Washington and others, he opposed the colonial measures of the British. His distinctive contribution to the colonial cause was a deep knowledge and understanding of government and political philosophy—resources that first proved their value in 1776 when Madison helped to draft a constitution for the new state of Virginia.
He served in the Continental Congress (1780-83, 1787) and represented his county in the Virginia legislature (1784-86), where he played a prominent part in disestablishing the Anglican Church. During this time he watched the ineffectual floundering of Congress under the Articles of Confederation with apprehension and became convinced of the necessity for a strong national authority.
Madison played important role in bringing about the conference between Maryland and Virginia concerning navigation of the Potomac. The meetings at Alexandria and Mt. Vernon in 1785 led to the Annapolis Convention in 1786, and at that conference he endorsed New Jersey's motion to call a Constitutional Convention for May, 1787. With Alexander Hamilton he became the leading spokesman for a thorough reorganization of the existing government, and his influence on the Virginia plan, which advocated a strong central government, is evident.
At the convention his skills in political science and his persuasive logic made him the chief architect of the new governmental structure and earned him the title "master builder of the Constitution." His journals are the principal source of later knowledge of the convention. He fought to get the Constitution adopted. He contributed with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to the brilliantly polemical papers of The Federalist, and in Virginia he led the forces for the Constitution against the opposition of Patrick Henry and George Mason.
As a Representative from Virginia (1789-97), he had a hand in getting the new government established and was a strong advocate of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution (the Bill of Rights). Yet, although modern historians have demonstrated the conservative nature of the Constitution and its founders, Madison was an opponent of the policies of the conservative wing in the Washington administration, a steadfast enemy of Alexander Hamilton and his financial measures, and a supporter of Thomas Jefferson. He especially deplored Hamilton's frank Anglophilia. After the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts, Madison attacked these measures and prepared the protesting Virginia resolutions (see Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions).
When Jefferson triumphed in the election of 1800, Madison became (1801) his Secretary of State. He served through both of Jefferson's terms, and he was Jefferson's choice as presidential candidate. As President, Madison had to deal with the results of the foreign policy that, as Secretary of State, he had helped to shape. The Embargo Act of 1807 was in effect dissolved by Macon's Bill No. 2. The bill provided, however, that if either Great Britain or France should remove restrictions on American trade, the President was empowered to reimpose the trade embargo on the other.
Madison, accepting an ambiguous French statement as a bona fide revocation of the Napoleonic decrees on trade, reinstated the trade embargo with Great Britain, an act that helped bring on the War of 1812. This move alone, however, did not bring about the war with Great Britain; equally significant were the activities of the "war hawks," led by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, who, hungry for the conquest of Canada and for free expansion, clamored for action. They helped to bring about the declaration of war against Great Britain on June 18, 1812.
The War of 1812 was the chief event of Madison's administration. New England merchants and industrialists were already disaffected by the various embargoes, and their discontent grew until at the Hartford Convention they talked of sedition rather than continuing "Mr. Madison's War." Even the friends of the President and the promoters of the war grew discouraged as the fighting went badly. Victories in late 1813 and in the autumn of 1814 lifted the gloom somewhat, but disaster came in Sept., 1814, when the British took Washington and burned the White House. Nevertheless the war ended in stalemate with the Treaty of Ghent.
Madison's remaining years in office witnessed the beginning of postwar national expansion. He encouraged the new nationalism, which hastened the split in the Democratic party, evident in the rise of Jacksonian democracy. Through these later upheavals Madison lived quietly with his wife, Dolley Madison, after his retirement in 1817 to Montpelier.
Madison's writings were edited by G. Hunt (9 vol., 1900-1910). See biography in his own words, ed. by M. D. Peterson (1974); biographies by I. Brant (6 vol., 1941-61; abr. ed. 1970), N. Riemer (1968), R. Ketcham (1971), R. A. Rutland (1981), and G. Wills (2002); studies by D. R. McCoy (1989) and L. Banning (1995).
The 2006 population estimate of Madison was 223,389, making it the second largest city in Wisconsin, after Milwaukee, and the 82nd largest in the United States. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau's Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Dane County and neighboring Iowa and Columbia counties. The Madison MSA had a 2006 estimated population of 543,022, and is one of the fastest-growing in Wisconsin.
Madison was created in 1836 when former federal judge James Duane Doty purchased over a thousand acres (4 km²) of swamp and forest land on the isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona within the Four Lakes region, with the intention of building a city on the site. The Wisconsin Territory had been created earlier that year and the territorial legislature had convened in Belmont, Wisconsin. One of the legislature's tasks was to choose a permanent location for the territory's capital. Doty lobbied aggressively for the legislature to select Madison as the new capital, offering buffalo robes to the freezing legislators and promising choice Madison lots at discount prices to undecided voters. He had James Slaughter plat two cities in the area, Madison and "The City of Four Lakes," near present-day Middleton. Despite the fact that Madison was still only a city on paper, the territorial legislature voted on November 28 in favor of Madison as its capital, largely because of its location halfway between the new and growing cities around Milwaukee in the east and the long established strategic post of Prairie du Chien in the west, and because of its location between the highly populated lead mining regions in the southwest and Wisconsin's oldest city, Green Bay in the northeast. Being named for the much-admired founding father James Madison, who had just died, and having streets named for each of the 39 signers of the Constitution, also helped attract votes.
The cornerstone for the Wisconsin capitol was laid in 1837, and the legislature first met there in 1838. Madison was incorporated as a village in 1846, with a population of 626. When Wisconsin became a state in 1848, Madison remained the capital, and the following year it became host to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad (a predecessor of what would become known as the Milwaukee Road) connected to Madison in 1854. Madison became a city in 1856, with a population of 6,863, leaving the unincorporated remainder as a separate Town of Madison. The original capitol was replaced in 1863. The second capitol burned in 1904, and the current capitol was built between 1906 and 1917.
During the American Civil War, Madison served as a center of the Union Army in Wisconsin. The intersection of Milwaukee, East Washington, Winnebago, and North Streets is known as Union Corners, as a tavern located there was the last stop for Union soldiers before heading to fight the Confederates. Camp Randall, on the west side of Madison, was built and used as a training camp, a military hospital, and a prison camp for captured Confederate soldiers. After the war ended, the Camp Randall site was absorbed into the University of Wisconsin- Camp Randall Stadium was built over the site in 1917. In 2004 the last vestige of active military training on the site was removed when the stadium renovation replaced a firing range used for ROTC training.
The City of Madison continued annexations from the Town almost from the date of the City's incorporation, leaving the latter (by the end of the 20th century) a collection of discontinuous areas subject to annexation. In the wake of continued controversy and an effort in the state legislature to simply abolish the Town, an agreement was reached in 2003 to provide for the incorporation of the remaining portions of the Town into the City of Madison and the City of Fitchburg by October 30, 2022.
Madison is located in the center of Dane County in south-central Wisconsin, west of Milwaukee and northwest of Chicago. The city completely surrounds the smaller Town of Madison and the City of Monona, as well as the villages of Maple Bluff and Shorewood Hills. Madison shares borders with its largest suburb, Sun Prairie, and three other communities, Middleton, McFarland, and Fitchburg. The city's boundaries also approach the villages of Verona, Cottage Grove and Waunakee.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Madison has a total area of 84.7 square miles (219.3 km²), of which, 68.7 square miles (177.9 km²) of it is land and 16.0 square miles (41.5 km²) of it (18.91%) is water.
The city is sometimes described as The City of Four Lakes, comprising the four successive lakes of the Yahara River: Lake Mendota ("Fourth Lake"), Lake Monona ("Third Lake"), Lake Waubesa ("Second Lake") and Lake Kegonsa ("First Lake"), although Waubesa and Kegonsa are not actually in Madison, but rather just south of it. A fifth smaller lake, Lake Wingra, is within the city as well, but not on the Yahara River chain. The Yahara flows into the Rock River, which in turn, flows into the Mississippi River. Downtown Madison is located on an isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona. The city's trademark of "Lake, City, Lake" reflects this geography.
Madison, and all of southern Wisconsin, has a temperate climate, or more specifically, a humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfa), characterized by variable weather patterns and a large seasonal temperature variance—winters see temperatures well below freezing, with moderate to occasionally very heavy snowfall; high temperatures in summer often reach the upper 80s to 90s °F (26 to 32 °C) and very high humidity levels are not uncommon.
|Monthly average and record temperatures and precipitation|
|Record high °F (°C)||56 (13.3)||64 (17.7)||82 (27.7)||94 (34.4)||93 (33.8)||101 (38.3)||104 (40)||102 (38.8)||99 (37.2)||90 (32.2)||76 (24.4)||64 (17.7)|
|Average high °F (°C)||25.2 (-3.7)||30.8 (-0.6)||42.8 (6)||56.6 (13.6)||69.4 (20.7)||78.3 (25.7)||82.1 (27.8)||79.4 (26.3)||71.4 (21.8)||59.6 (15.3)||43.3 (6.3)||30.2 (-1)|
|Average low °F (°C)||9.3 (-12.6)||14.3 (-9.8)||24.6 (-4.1)||35.2 (1.7)||46 (7.7)||55.7 (13.2)||61 (16.1)||58.7 (14.8)||49.9 (9.9)||38.9 (3.8)||27.7 (-2.4)||15.8 (-9)|
|Record low °F (°C)||-37 (-38.3)||-29 (-33.8)||-29 (-33.8)||0 (-17.7)||19 (-7.2)||31 (-0.5)||36 (2.2)||35 (1.6)||25 (-3.8)||13 (-10.5)||-11 (-23.8)||-25 (-31.6)|
|Precipitation in (mm)||1.25 (31.75)||1.28 (32.5)||2.28 (57.9)||3.35 (85.1)||3.25 (82.5)||4.05 (102.9)||3.93 (99.8)||4.33 (110)||3.08 (78.2)||2.18 (55.4)||2.31 (58.7)||1.66 (42.2)|
|Snowfall in (cm)||10.9 (27.7)||7.9 (20.1)||8.1 (20.6)||2.5 (6.4)||0.1 (0.3)||T||T||T||T||0.3 (0.8)||3.6 (9.1)||10.6 (26.9)|
|Source: US Travel Weather|
|Madison and Wisconsin demographics|
|N/A||2.32%||Two or more races|
|Note: Hispanics may be of any race.|
There were 89,019 households out of which 22.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.0% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 52.3% were non-families. 35.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.87.
In the city the population was spread out with 17.9% under the age of 18, 21.4% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $41,941, and the median income for a family was $59,840. Males had a median income of $36,718 versus $30,551 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,498. About 5.8% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.4% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
Madison is the larger principal city of the Madison-Baraboo CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Madison metropolitan area (Columbia, Dane, and Iowa counties) and the Baraboo micropolitan area (Sauk County), which had a combined population of 556,999 at the 2000 census.
Madison is associated with "Fighting Bob" La Follette and the Progressive movement. La Follette's Magazine, The Progressive, founded in 1909, is still published in Madison. City voting patterns have supported the Democratic Party in national elections in the last half-century, and a liberal and progressive majority is generally elected to the city council. Detractors refer to Madison as The People's Republic of Madison, the "Left Coast of Wisconsin," or as "70 square miles surrounded by reality." This latter phrase was coined by former Wisconsin Republican governor Lee S. Dreyfus while campaigning in 1978, as recounted by campaign aide, Bill Kraus.
In the 1960s and 70s, the Madison counterculture was centered in the neighborhood of Mifflin and Bassett streets, referred to as Miffland. The area contained many three-story apartments where students and counterculture youth lived, painted murals, and operated the co-operative grocery store, the Mifflin Street Co-op. The neighborhood often came into conflict with authorities, particularly then Republican Mayor Bill Dyke, a one-time personality on WISC-TV who was later to run for vice-president with segregationist Lester Maddox. Dyke was viewed by students as a direct antagonist in efforts to protest the Vietnam War, because of his efforts to suppress local protests that had resulted in property damage. The annual Mifflin Street Block Party became a focal point for protest, although by the late seventies it had become a mainstream community party.
Madison is also home to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which attempts to influence government in matters relating to the separation of church and state. The foundation is known for its lawsuits against religious displays on public property, among other things. In recent years, they have made removal of In God We Trust from American currency a main focus.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, thousands of students and other citizens took part in anti-Vietnam War marches and demonstrations, with more violent incidents drawing national attention to the city and UW campus. These include:
These protests were the subject of the documentary The War at Home Tom Bates also wrote the book Rads on the subject (ISBN 0-06-092428-4). Bates wrote that Dyke's attempt to suppress the annual Mifflin Street block party "would take three days, require hundreds of officers on overtime pay, and engulf the student community from the nearby Southeast Dorms to Langdon Street's fraternity row. Tear gas hung like heavy fog across the Isthmus." In the fracas, student activist Paul Soglin, then a city alderman, was arrested and taken to jail. Soglin was later elected mayor of Madison, serving from 1973 to 1979 and from 1989 to 1997, in his latter term aligning himself as a moderate in the regional Democratic Party. David Maraniss also wrote a book, They Marched into Sunlight, which incorporated the 1967 Dow protests into a larger Vietnam War narrative.
Madison city politics remain dominated by activists of liberal and progressive ideologies. In 1992, a local third party Progressive Dane was founded. Recently enacted city policies supported in the Progressive Dane platform have included an inclusionary zoning ordinance and a city minimum wage. The party holds multiple seats on the Madison City Council and Dane County Board of Supervisors, and is aligned variously with the Democratic and Green parties.
The city's voters are also, as a whole, much more politically liberal than voters in the rest of Wisconsin. For example, 76% of Madison voters voted against a 2006 state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, even though the ban passed statewide with 59% of the vote.
The world's largest congregation of Unitarian Universalists, First Unitarian Society of Madison, makes its home in the historic Unitarian Meeting House, designed by one of its members, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Wisconsin state government and the University of Wisconsin–Madison remain the top two Madison employers. However, Madison's economy today is evolving from a government-based economy to a consumer services and high-tech base, particularly in the health, biotech and advertising sectors. Beginning in the early 1990s, the city experienced a steady economic boom and has been comparatively unaffected by recession. Much of the expansion has occurred on the city's south and west sides, but it has also affected the east side near the Interstate 39-90-94 interchange and along the northern shore of Lake Mendota. Underpinning the boom is the development of high-tech companies, many actively fostered by the UW–Madison working with local businesses and entrepreneurs to transfer the results of academic research into real-world applications, most notably bio-tech applications.
Many businesses are attracted to Madison's exceptional skill base, taking advantage of the area's high level of education. According to city-data.com, Madison has 48.2% of its population over age 25 holding a bachelor's degree or higher. Forbes magazine reported in 2004 that Madison has the highest percentage of Ph.D.s in the nation. In 2005, Forbes listed the city as having the lowest unemployment in the nation: 2.5%, less than half the U.S. 2004 average. In 2006, the same magazine listed Madison as number 31 in the top 200 metro areas for "Best Places for Business and Careers. However, Forbes has named Madison in the top ten several times within the past decade.
The University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics is an important regional teaching hospital and regional trauma center, with notable strengths in nephrology, oncology, digestive disorders, and endocrinology. Other Madison hospitals include St. Mary's Hospital, Meriter Hospital and the VA Medical Center.
Madison is also home to companies such as the North American division of Spectrum Brands (formerly Rayovac), Alliant Energy, American Family Insurance, the Credit Union National Association, CUNA Mutual Group, University of Wisconsin Credit Union. Technology companies in the area include Netconcepts, Telephone and Data Systems, TomoTherapy, Broadjam, Sonic Foundry, Raven Software, Human Head Studios, Renaissance Learning, Epic Systems Corporation, and Berbee Information Networks. Many biotech firms exist here as well, including PanVera, now part of Invitrogen, Promega, Third Wave Technologies and the Iceland-based Nimblegen.
Oscar Mayer has been a Madison fixture for decades, and was a family business for many years before being sold to Kraft Foods. The pizza chains Rocky Rococo, Pizza Pit, and the Glass Nickel Pizza Company originated in Madison.
According to Forbes magazine, Madison ranks second in the nation of top places in overall education. It is home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as well as Edgewood College, Madison Area Technical College, Herzing College, and Madison Media Institute, giving the city a student population of nearly 50,000. The University of Wisconsin contributes the vast majority of these, with roughly 41,000 students enrolled. This makes it one of the largest public universities in the United States. It is consistently rated among the top public post-secondary schools in the country. In a Forbes magazine city ranking from 2003, Madison had the highest number of Ph.D.s per capita, and third highest college graduates per capita, among ranked cities in the United States. Sports make up a large part of the campus experience at the university, both intramural and intercollegiate. The University's athletic teams, nicknamed "The Badgers", are consistently among the best in United States, drawing throngs of students, alumni, and state residents to their contests.
Additional degree programs are available through satellite campuses of Lakeland College, Upper Iowa University the University of Phoenix, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and Cardinal Stritch University for students who maintain full-time employment.
The Madison Metropolitan School District serves the city and surrounding area. With an enrollment of approximately 25,000 students in 46 schools, it is the second largest school district in Wisconsin behind the Milwaukee School District. Madison has more than six times the National Merit Scholar Semifinalists than comparable school districts. The five public high schools are: James Madison Memorial, Madison West, Madison East, Madison LaFollette, and Malcolm Shabazz City High School, an alternative school. The most notable of the private schools is Edgewood High School, located on the Edgewood College campus and Wingra School which encompasses students in grades Kindergarten through 8th. St. Ambrose Academy is a Catholic school offering grades 6-12 on the west side.
With the State-imposed property tax caps, the Madison School District has found itself struggling as of late. In trying to find new methods of funding and support, the School District has tried to estimate the opinions of the public by holding public sessions on their budget. While the State-imposed mandates allow for a 3.3% increase in spending, inflation amounts to a 5.4% per year, resulting in an annual increase necessary to continue previous course offerings that is below state mandates.
Madison also has an especially strong non-credit learning community with multiple programs and many private businesses also offering classes. Examples include Wisconsin Union Mini Courses, Madison School Community Recreation, St. Mary's HealthWorks, and the University of Wisconsin's Continuing Education program.
A commuter light rail system has been proposed, particularly for a corridor passing through the isthmus and alongside the university campus, but has remained on paper for decades. A high-speed rail route from Chicago through Milwaukee and Madison to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, has also been proposed as part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative. Though for a time, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson was the chairman of Amtrak, the nearest train station is in Columbus, Wisconsin. Regional buses connect Madison to Milwaukee, Janesville, Beloit, LaCrosse, and in Illinois, Rockford, O'Hare Airport, and Chicago. Service is also available to St. Paul, Minnesota.
Railroad freight services are provided in Madison by Wisconsin and Southern Railroad (WSOR) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP). Wisconsin & Southern has been operating since 1980, having taken over trackage owned since the 19th century by the Chicago and North Western and the Milwaukee Road. Some of the proposed light rail and commuter routes would use existing WSOR rights-of-way, such as the line between the Kohl Center and Middleton. Limited commuter trains were tested along this line in the early 2000s as "football specials". The trains took passengers from the Middleton depot to Camp Randall Stadium to help alleviate parking issues on game days.
A number of bus lines connect Madison to nearby cities. Badger Bus, connects Madison to Milwaukee running multiple buses a day. Greyhound Lines, the national bus company, has a local stop and offers routes through most of the country. Van Galder Bus Company, a subsidiary of Coach USA, provides transportation through Rockford to Chicago - Downtown at the Amtrak station, O'Hare Airport and Midway Airport. Mad-Bus provides transportation for University of Wisconsin students to the Twin Cities. First Student offers charter bus rental services to groups in the Madison and Wilwaukee area.
I-39, I-90, and I-94 expressways intersect at Madison, connecting the city to Milwaukee; Chicago; Rockford, Illinois; Minneapolis-St. Paul and Wausau. U.S. Routes US-12, US-14, US-18, US-51 and US-151 connect the city with Dubuque, IA LaCrosse, WI Janesville, WI and Lake Michigan. The Beltline is a large 6 to 8 lane freeway on the south and west sides of Madison and is the main link from downtown to the southeast and west suburbs.
The city is also home to the free weekly alternative newspaper Isthmus (weekly circulation: ~65,000), which was founded in 1976. The Onion, a satirical weekly, was also founded in Madison in 1988. Two student newspapers are published during the academic year, The Daily Cardinal (Mon-Fri circulation: ~10,000) and The Badger Herald (Mon-Fri circulation: ~16,000). The Herald began during the turmultuous Vietnam War era as a conservative alternative to the liberal Cardinal. Madison is also home to numerous other specialty print publications focusing on local music, politics, and sports, including The Madison Times, Wisconsin Sports Weekly The Mendota Beacon, The Madison Observer, Madison Magazine and The Simpson Street Free Press.
Madison is also home to The Progressive, a left-wing periodical that may be best known for the attempt of the US government in 1979 to suppress one of the Progressive's articles before publication. However, the magazine eventually prevailed in the landmark First Amendment case, United States v. The Progressive, Inc. During the 1970s, there were two "radical" weeklies published in Madison, known as TakeOver and Free for All.
WORT Community Radio was founded by progressive Madisonians in 1975 and is one of the oldest volunteer-powered radio stations in the United States. WORT 89.9 FM is a listener-sponsored community radio station, broadcasting from 118 S. Bedford Street in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. WORT offers a host of diverse music and talk programming made possible by donors and volunteers.
WORT broadcasts a mix of music and talk programming. All of WORT's music programs are locally produced by local DJs. WORT airs 34 hours of news and public affairs programming, 23 of which are locally produced. All of the programmers at the station are volunteers from the community, including DJs, hosts, producers, reporters, and engineers.
Air America's Madison affiliate The Mic 92.1 FM, WXXM announced on November 10, 2006 it would switch to all sports programming by the end of the year; a spokesperson for Clear Channel in Madison later announced that the station would remain an Air America affiliate after a massive public outcry against the proposed change in format. The public protest included thousands sending petitions, emails, and letters, and a public protest of 500 people along with elected officials Madison's Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison. Promising improved support and advertising sales, a local investment group plans to make Air America and The Mic more successful. Valerie Walasek, an organizer of the protests stated, "It's evidence that as people stand up and demand what they want and demand they are going to take back the airwaves, somebody will listen. The station features the Air America lineup and local programs with Matthew Rothchild's Progressive Radio and Free Thought Radio from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The main downtown thoroughfare is State Street, which links the University of Wisconsin campus with the State Capitol square, and is lined with restaurants, espresso cafes, and shops. Only pedestrians, buses, emergency vehicles, delivery vehicles and bikes are allowed on State Street.
Continuing on the other side of Capitol Square is King Street, which is now developing along the lines that State Street has, but with less of a student character, and more appeal to the growing young white-collar high-tech population in Madison. Thus, King Street has more upper-end restaurants and cafes than are found on the more student-budget State Street.
In the summer, on Saturday mornings, the Dane County Farmers' Market is held around the Capitol Square, while on Wednesday evenings, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra performs free concerts on the Capitol's lawn. The Great Taste of the Midwest craft beer festival, established in 1987 and the second longest running such event in North America, is the second Saturday in August and the highly coveted tickets sell out within an hour of going on sale in May.
Madison is host to Rhythm and Booms, a massive fireworks celebration (coordinated to music) that begins with a fly-over by several F16s from the local Wisconsin Air National Guard. This celebration is the largest fireworks display in the Midwest in terms of the length of the show, number of shells fired and the size of its annual budget. During the winter months, sports enthusiasts enjoy ice-boating, ice-skating, ice fishing, cross country skiing, playing ice hockey and snowkiting. During the rest of the year, recreation includes sailing on the local lakes, bicycling, and hiking.
In 2004 Madison was named the healthiest city in America by Men's Journal magazine. Many major streets in Madison have designated bike lanes and the city has one of the most extensive bike trail systems in the nation. Due to this, Madison has a very active cyclist culture and it is common place to see groups of friends bicycling together throughout the city on nice days. Bicycle tourism is an $800 million industry in Wisconsin, which has 20 percent of the nation's bicycling industry manufacturing capacity.
There are quite a few cooperative organizations in the Madison area, ranging from grocery stores (such as the Willy Street Cooperative) to housing co-ops (such as Madison Community Cooperative, Lothlórien Co-op, and Nottingham Housing Cooperative). The total number of co-ops in the area is relatively high when considering the small population of the city. Many larger cities have substantially fewer co-ops.
In 2005, Madison was included in Gregory A. Kompes' book, 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Place to Live. The Madison Metro area is also credited as the most liberal in the state, and has a higher percentage of gay couples than any other city in the area outside of Chicago and Minneapolis. The city was also named the number one college sports town by Sports Illustrated in 2003.
Madison has also gotten publicity in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and its consistent ranking as one of the top "party schools." Among the city's various neighborhood fairs and celebrations are two large student-driven gatherings, the Mifflin Street Block Party and the State Street Halloween Party. Rioting and vandalism at the State Street gathering in 2004 and 2005 led the city to institute a cover charge for the 2006 celebration. In an attempt to give the event more structure (and to eliminate opportunity for vandalism), the city and student organizations worked together to schedule performances by bands, and to organize activities. The event has been named "Freakfest On State Street." Events such as these have helped contribute to the city's nickname of "Madtown."
The students also made national headlines in 2008 at http://detentionslip.org/2008/02/breaking-uw-madison-students-protest.html for holding protests against the season of Winter.
Madison's vibrant music scene covers a wide spectrum of living musical culture.
Several venues offer live music every night of the week, spreading from the historic Barrymore Theatre on the eastside to the Annex on the west side. Several small coffee houses and wine bars offer live music every night in all formats. Closer to downtown, the High Noon Saloon is developing a national reputation for developing and breaking indie rock and local acts. The biggest headliners generally perform at the 1,800 capacity Orpheum Theatre or at the UW Theatre on campus.
The city's live music scene received a considerable bump with the purchase and renovation of the historic Majestic Theatre, located off capitol square on King Street. The theatre, built in 1906, thus making it the oldest in Madison had previous incarnations as a movie theatre and burlesque house. Until its reopening, it was being run as a hip hop dance club until violence forced the city to revoke its liquor license. The Majestic reopened on September 29, 2007 and in its first six months has hosted various acts such as Against Me!, Cowboy Junkies, Galactic, Editors, Leon Russell, and the Bill Frisell Trio. The venue also shows movies in its Brew n' View series.
The Madison Opera presents a full season of offerings providing at least two full productions and the incredibly popular Opera in the Park (which reached over 10,000 music lovers in the summer of 2005). In addition, the nationally recognized company produces recitals and its late series Opera Up Close.
The Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps has provided youth aged 16-22 opportunities to perform across North America every summer since 1938. The corps is hailed world-wide for its energetic and entertaining shows. Further, the UW-Madison Marching Band is one of the most popular marching bands in the nation, with an extensive and eclectic repertoire.
Madison has a lively independent rock scene, and local independent record labels include Sector Five Records, Crustacean Records, Beeftone Music, Uvulittle Records and Art Paul Schlosser Inc which is the label for Art Paul Schlosser who has been on the WGN-TV news in Chicago and has had his songs played on the Dr Demento radio show. Another Dr. Demento and weekly live karaoke favorite is The Gomers, who have a Madison Mayoral Proclamation named after them and have performed with fellow Wisconsin residents Les Paul and Steve Miller
Madison is also home to Clyde Stubblefield of Funky Drummer fame, and musicians Roscoe Mitchell, Ben Sidran, Reptile Palace Orchestra, Johnny Rocker & the High Rollers, John Statz and Harmonious Wail.
Community-based Theater groups abound in many neighborhood of Madison including the Broom Street Theater which is not found on Broom Street as one would expect. Past productions have included comic-style riffs on regional and local news stories such as Audrey Seiler, a University of Wisconsin - Madison student who faked her own kidnapping, causing a county-wide search which gained national attention for several weeks.
Madison offers one comedy club, the Comedy Club on State, and has other options for more alternative humor. Featuring several improv groups, such as The Prom Committee, Spin Cycle Improv, Atlas Improv, The Monkey Business Institute,the now defunct ARC Improv and Comedy Sportz, a sketch comedy group called The Public Drunkards, the city's comedy scene is in revival. A spear-heading organization called the WiSUC Project has led the way in recent years for this revival and annually hosts the "Funniest Comic in Madison" contest at the High Noon Saloon.
Several films have been at least partially made in Madison. One of the most notable was the documentary The War at Home, which chronicled the anti-Vietnam War movement in Madison. Another movie that made extensive use of the city as a backdrop was the 1986 comedy Back to School, starring Rodney Dangerfield. The University's Bascom Hill is used extensively, as is the local university bookstore, called (appropriately enough) The University Bookstore. The film also features many dorm buildings on campus, and various outdoor locales including the Terrace and Library Mall. More recently, the 2006 film The Last Kiss featured Madison and the University as a back-drop. One early scene in the film was also shot on the Terrace.
Madison is also home to one of the largest film archives in the nation at the Wisconsin Historical Society.
The Wisconsin State Capitol dome, closely based on the dome of the U.S. Capitol, is the jewel of the Madison skyline, and is visible throughout the Madison area due to its position on the ridgeline of the isthmus (and a state law that limits building heights within one mile of the structure). Because of its location in the urban core, Capitol square is well integrated with everyday pedestrian traffic and commerce, and the spoke streets -- especially State Street and E. Washington -- offer dramatic views of the Capitol.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright spent much of his childhood in Madison and studied briefly at the University, and is responsible for several Madison buildings. Monona Terrace, a meeting and convention center overlooking Lake Monona, designed by Taliesin Architect Anthony Puttnam, was based loosely on a 1938 Wright design. Wright did design the seminal Usonian House, which is located here. (Another key Wright building, the Unitarian Meeting House, is in the adjacent suburb of Shorewood Hills.)The Harold C. Bradley House, designed collaboratively by Louis H. Sullivan and George Grant Elmslie in 1908-1910 now serves as the Sigma Phi Fraternity in the University Heights neighborhood, along with many well-maintained early 20th-century residences.
The Overture Center for the Arts, designed by Argentina-born architect César Pelli, also stands on State Street near the Capitol. Since opening in 2004, the center has already presented shows and concerts in its Overture Hall, Capitol Theater and The Playhouse (home of the Madison Repertory Theatre). The center, also including smaller performance spaces, also houses the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The style, unlike Pelli's Petronas Towers, leans toward sleek modernism, with simple expanses of glass framed by stone that are intended to complement the historic building facades preserved as part of the building's State Street exposure.
Many of the over 175 Madison buildings designed by the architectural firm of Claude and Starck are still standing, including Breese Stevens Field, Doty School (now converted to condominiums), and many private residences.
The UW-Madison campus includes many buildings designed or supervised by architects J.T.W. Jennings (the Dairy Barn, Agricultural Hall) and Arthur Peabody (the Memorial Union and the Carillon Tower). The UW administration building Bascom Hall sits atop a high hill overlooking Lake Mendota, and has been the site of many demonstrations and events. The density of the campus has grown to include 8 to 10 story high-rises including dormitories, research facilities, and classrooms. Several campus buildings erected in the 1960s exhibit brutalist architecture, which is now unpopular. In 2005 the University of Wisconsin embarked on a major redevelopment initiative that will transform the east end of its campus. The plan calls for the razing of a nearly a dozen 1950s to 1970s vintage buildings and the construction of new dormitories, administration, and classroom buildings, as well as the development of a new pedestrian mall extending to Lake Mendota.
The downtown and near east side is currently experiencing a building boom, with dozens of new condominium and apartment buildings being constructed.
Madison is known as a sports crazed city primarily because of the University of Wisconsin. In 2004 Sports Illustrated on Campus named Madison the #1 college sports town in the nation. This sentiment was echoed by Scott Van Pelt in July 2007 when he filled in for Dan Patrick on his ESPN radio show and dedicated the episode to proclaiming Madison the best college sports town in America. The UW-Madison teams play all of their home-field sporting events in venues in and around Madison. The football team plays at Camp Randall Stadium. In 2005 a renovation was completed which added 72 luxury suites and increased the stadium's total capacity to 80,321 although crowds of as many as 83,000 have attended games. The basketball and hockey teams play at the Kohl Center. Construction on the $76 million arena was completed in 1997. In 2006, both the men's and women's Badger hockey teams won NCAA Division I championships, and the women repeated with a second consecutive national championship in 2007. Some events are played at the county-owned Alliant Energy Center (formerly Dane County Memorial Coliseum) and the University-owned Wisconsin Field House.
Despite, (or perhaps because of,) Madison's strong support for college sports, it has proven to be an inhospitable home for professional baseball. The Madison Muskies, a Class A, Midwest League affiliate of the Oakland A's, left town in 1993 after only 11 seasons. The Madison Hatters, another Class A, Midwest League team, played in Madison for the 1994 season only. The Madison Black Wolf, an independent Northern League franchise lasted only five seasons, (1996-2000,) before decamping for Lincoln, Nebraska. Madison is currently home to the Madison Mallards, a college wood-bat summer baseball league team in the Northwoods League (not to be confused with the Minor League Baseball). They play in Warner Park on the city's North side from June to August.
Madison is home to the Princeton 56ers, an amateur soccer team in the National Premier Soccer League. They play in Breese Stevens Field on East Washington Ave, just a few blocks from the State Capitol.
Madison is home to the Wisconsin Rugby Club, the 1998 USA Rugby Division II National Champions, and the Wisconsin Women's Rugby Football Club, the state's only Division I women's rugby team. The city also has men's and women's rugby clubs at UW-Madison, in addition to four high school boy's teams and one high school girl's team. The most recent addition to the Madison rugby community, Madison Minotaurs United RFC, is composed largely of gay players, but is open to any player with any experience level. All ten teams play within the Wisconsin Rugby Football Union, the Midwest Rugby Union and USA Rugby.
Nearly 100 women participate in the adult women's ice hockey teams that are based in Madison (Thunder, Lightning, Freeze, UW-B and C teams), all of which play in the Women's Central Hockey League.
The active and popular Madison Gay Hockey Association is also in Madison.
Madison is being considered to help the city of Chicago in hosting the Olympics if Chicago succeeds in winning the bid for 2016. Camp Randall stadium would serve as Chicago's 80,000-seat stadium.
Madison was also home to the now defunct Indoor Football League's Madison Mad Dogs.
Former professional baseball player and legendary, retired city firefighter, Don Annen continues to reside on Monona Bay with his wife, Dorothy (née Burwell).
Madison is now home to a new football team called the Madison Mustangs, which is a semi-pro football team, part of the Ironman Football League that originated in Milwaukee in the late 1990s. Games are typically played on Saturday during the summer months, with the home field being Middleton High School.
Notable people associated with Madison include:
Writers and journalists include:
Radio humorist Michael Feldman and his weekly program are based in Madison. The alternative rock band Garbage was founded in the city by resident Butch Vig. The emo band Rainer Maria hails from Madison as well. Rock musicians Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs both attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Other notable musicians with Madison ties include, blues singer Tracy Nelson, singer/guitarist Jim Schwall, bassist Richard Davis, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, drummer Clyde Stubblefield, and composer/performers Leo and Ben Sidran. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has produced many notable achievers in diverse areas including the arts, politics, scientific research and athletics. Some are included above. One of the last US Health and Human Services Secretaries was a past chancellor of the university, Donna Shalala (and her successor was Wisconsin's then-Governor, Tommy Thompson). A number of Nobel Prize winners have been graduates or on the faculty in Madison. For a more extensive account of well-known alumni and staff of UW-Madison see:
Madison is also known unfortunately as the location of the untimely deaths of Teresa McGovern (a Madison resident and daughter of presidential candidate George McGovern) and Otis Redding. Teresa McGovern was found dead of exposure when she passed out during a Madison winter night. Otis Redding died in an airplane crash into Lake Monona. University of Wisconsin-Madison student Audrey Seiler disappeared and was later found in the marshland near the Alliant Energy Expo Center off Rimrock Road on Madison's south side in 2004, having faked her own kidnapping.