Kenosha, Wisconsin

Kenosha is a city in and the county seat of Kenosha County, United States. With an estimated 2006 population of 96,240, Kenosha is the fourth-largest city in Wisconsin behind Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay. Kenosha lies on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, south of Milwaukee and north of Chicago, Illinois. Although the city is geographically closer to Milwaukee than Chicago, Kenosha is considered part of the Chicago Metropolitan Area by the US Census.


The greater Kenosha area is of high archeological interest since the discovery of pre-Clovis culture settlements in the late 20th century. These prehistoric settlements date to the approximate era of the Wisconsin glaciation. The Paleo Indians, as archaeologists call these peoples, first settled in the area at least 13,500 years ago.

The Potawatomi originally named the area gnozhé ("place of the pike").

The early name by the Ojibwa Indians is reported as Masu-kinoja. This more completely describes the place of spawning trout----"Trout (Pike) come all at same time". Harvesting these fish with ease provided food for the coming months. There were literally thousands of fish entering the rivers from Lake Michigan. Similarly there is the town of Masu-kegan in Michigan. The translation is easily made when using an ancient East Asian language as outlined in book, "America---Land of the Rising Sun" by Don Smithana (1989).

The first white settlers were part of the Western Emigration Company and arrived in the early 1830s from Hannibal and Troy, New York. The first group, led by John Bullen, Jnr., sought to purchase land enough for a town. Thwarted in Milwaukee and Racine, they arrived at Pike Creek on 6 June 1835, building log and later frame homes. The first school and churches followed by 1835, with platting completed in 1836. As more settlers arrived and the first post office was established, the community was first known as Pike in 1836. In the ensuing years the area became an important Great Lakes shipping port, and the village was once again renamed, this time to Southport. (This is still the name of a southeast-side neighborhood, park, and elementary school, as well as several businesses).

In 1850, another change brought the growing city (and later Kenosha County) its current title, an Anglicized version of the early name gnozhé. Kenoshans often refer affectionately to their city as "K-Town" and "Keno" (the latter often adopted over the decades on various local businesses and most notably on Kenosha's historic 1949 Keno Family Outdoor Theatre, Wisconsin's oldest drive-in theatre).

Early in the 20th Century, Kenosha joined the automobile revolution, hosting the pioneer brass era company Jeffery, later (in 1916) Nash, and later still (from 1954 to 1988) AMC. American Motors Corporation was famous for both its high performance AMX and its not-so-high performance "bomb" the Pacer.

American Motors in partnership with French automaker Renault manufactured several cars in Kenosha in the early 1980s including the Alliance which won the 1983 “Car of The Year” award from Motor Trend magazine. In 1987 Renault used their controlling interest to sell AMC to Chrysler Corporation Chrysler used the Kenosha plants to manufacture its K car series until 1988, when it announced the closing of its main assembly lines in Kenosha. The assembly of some engines remained in Kenosha, employing only a fraction of the once very large auto worker force. The engine plant has survived the merger of Chrysler and Daimler Benz as well as the subsequent sale of Chrysler by Daimler to the private equity firm Cerberus.

The Lakefront Plant was demolished and redeveloped, and is now the site of Harbor Park, a Marina, a park and statue of Christopher Columbus (dedicated to the many Italian American Immigrants that settled in Kenosha) the Kenosha Public Museum, and the Civil War Museum.

Kenosha has twenty-one separate locations and three districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places including the Library Park, Third Avenue, and the Civic Center historic districts. The City supports a strong Kenosha Landmarks Commission, and among the many local City-designated landmarks are the 1929 YMCA at 711 59th Place, the Manor House at 6536 Third Avenue, the John McCaffary House at 5732 13th Court, the St. Matthew Episcopal Church at 5900 Seventh Avenue, the Washington Park Clubhouse at 2205 Washington Road, and the Justin Weed House at 3509 Washington Road.

In June 1993, the City installed reproductions of the historic Sheridan LeGrande street lights that were especially designed for Kenosha by Westinghouse Electric in 1928; these can be seen on Sixth Avenue between 54th and 59th Streets. A classic electric street car system was also installed for the downtown district.

From the turn of the century through the 1930s many Italian, Irish, Polish and German immigrants made their way to the city. Kenosha's Old West Side (the current site of Columbus Park and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church) became well known throughout the area for it's rich Italian American culture. Kenosha is known to this day for it's Italian immigrant influences and is the home of several Italian restaurants and delis such as Tenuta's, Mac's Canteen, and Lenci's.


Kenosha, WI is located in the Southeastern corner of Wisconsin. Known as the Gateway to Wisconsin, Kenosha's eastern border is Lake Michigan, it is bordered on the South by Lake County, Illinois, to the North by Racine, County and to the West by Walworth County (containing Lake Geneva) Kenosha's train station is the last stop on Chicago's Metra North Lineand is conveniently located almost halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago

Currently there is a proposal to connect Chicago to Milwaukee with a light commuter rail through Kenosha

Business and Industry

Kenosha was once a thriving heavy manufacturing town. In addition to the automobile industry (cited above), Kenosha was home to American Brass (later Outokumpu Copper/ Outokumpu American Brass Company, Jockey International (Originally Called Cooper's Union Suit Company until the "Jockey" brief was invented in 1934, hence the name change.), Snap On Tools,and LeBlanc Corporation After loosing many of its heavy industrial jobs, Kenosha has become the home to dozens of "light industrial" companies. Recently Abbott Laboratories made a large purchase of land in Kenosha County which may be the site of a new major campus of the pharmaceutical manufacturer. (Ref) The real estate market in Kenosha has benefited from the growing Chicago market and in spite of the economic setbacks, has flourished all through the 1990s and into 2006. A recent national real estate slump has hurt Kenosha values, but not as much as other areas in the nation.


Kenosha is located at (42.582220, -87.845624).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.0 square miles (62.1 km²), of which, 23.8 square miles (61.7 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (0.63%) is water.

Kenosha's eastern boundary is Lake Michigan and is bordered by the towns of Somers and Bristol to the north and west respectively and the village of Pleasant Prairie to the south.


As of the census of 2000, there were 90,352 people, 34,411 households, and 22,539 families residing in the city.

The population density was 3,795.1 people per square mile (1,465.1/km²). There were 36,004 housing units at an average density of 1,512.3/sq mi (583.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.64% White, 7.68% African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.99% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.83% from other races and 2.38% from two or more races. 9.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 34,411 households out of which 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them: 47.1% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present and 34.5% were non-families. 28.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city the population included 27.2% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.2 males.


The Public Policy Forum reports that Kenosha's personal-income levels have been sharply rising; the latest local gain stands at $30.3 million, in contrast to a personal-income drop of $434 million within other adjoining southeastern-Wisconsin communities (except for neighboring Walworth County, which had a $3.3 million gain in the latest statistics.) In March 2008, the Public Policy Forum reported that Kenosha's real-estate valuations rose by 7.6%, most likely as a result of heavy migration by Illinois professionals who have resettled in Kenosha. Years ago a busy center of manufacturing, Kenosha is today largely a suburban "bedroom community" within the Chicago-Milwaukee megalopolis, most often attracting new residents from Illinois, which leads to Kenosha's appellation as Chicago's northernmost suburb. With several area transportation options, many residents commute to their places of employment, often beyond the borders of Kenosha County into Illinois.

Tourism has a significant and growing impact on Kenosha's economy. According to the Kenosha Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2006 Kenosha-area tourism expenditures reached a record $222.5 million, which translated into approximately 5,220 fulltime-job equivalents. During 2007, the Kenosha-area revenue from tourism rose to a record $224.6 million (or a 5,267 fulltime-job equivalency) despite a 1.4% statewide tourism slowdown. Kenosha's tourism activity and revenue is now within the top 20% of all of Wisconsin's 72 counties. This figure is expected to rise further following the opening of Kenosha's new $15 million Civil War Museum in June, 2008; the city expects 300,000 visitors at that new facility annually. Surveys show that most visitors to Kenosha shop at Kenosha's upscale Prime Outlets retail shops and stay at local hotels and motels, while the city's extensive Lake Michigan beaches and HarborPark facilities attract 36% of all tourists, and 27% use the municipal streetcar line.

Years ago Kenosha was a center of manufacturing and industry, most notably in the production of automobiles. Between 1902 and 1988 Kenosha produced millions of automobiles and trucks under such well-remembered marques as Jeffery, Rambler, Nash, Hudson, LaFayette, and American Motors Corporation (AMC). AMC once operated two assembly plants in the city until it merged into what was then the Chrysler Corporation in 1987. An engine plant for Chrysler remains, but the American Motors lakeshore assembly plant was demolished in 1989 and repatriated into upscale HarborPark. The plant's closing is documented in Kathryn Marie Dudley's "The End of the Line: New Lives in Postindustrial America." AMC's predecessor in the area, Nash Motors, was formed in Kenosha in 1916 by Charles W. Nash, for whom a 47 acre westside park and an elementary school, opened in the autumn of 2007, are named.

Today, Kenosha's employment demographics are mainly white-collar. The city's largest employer is the multi-level educational system, and Kenosha's largest private employer is Abbott Laboratories at 100 Abbott Park Road, Abbott Park, Illinois 60064-3500 which has recently purchased within Kenosha County at Highways C at Interstate 94

In 2005, Kenosha County listed a total of 83,320 workers, of which 78,648 were actively employed, giving Kenosha County a 5.6% unemployment rate

Real Estate and Housing Statistics

The number of households in Kenosha County has increased by nearly 80% in the last fifteen years, from 1990 to 2005 ,indicating the community is rapidly expanding to accommodate new employers and workers in the area.

Number of Total Households:

  • 1990: 47,029
  • 2000: 56,057
  • 2005: 58,715

2005 Housing Statistics:

  • Total Housing Units: 67,568
  • Owner Occupied: 42,197
  • Median Value of Homes: $167,500
  • Renter Occupied: 16,518
  • Median Rent Paid: $722
  • Rental Vacancy Rate: 11.1%

Law and government

Kenosha has a mayor, considered to be the chief executive, and a city administrator, considered to be the chief operating officer. The mayor is elected every four years. The city's Common Council consists of 17 aldermen from each of Kenosha's 17 districts (each district having two wards), elected for two year terms in even-numbered years.

The mayor of Kenosha over four terms since April 1992 was John Martin Antaramian, the longest serving mayor in the city's history. In late 2006, Antaramian was awarded the Robert B. Bell, Sr. Best Public Partner Award for his advocacy towards quality real estate development. He is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bi-partisan group with a stated goal of "making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets." The Coalition is co-chaired by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Mayor Antaramian announced during 2007 that he would not seek reelection in 2008. Former alderman and local businessman Keith Bosman was elected mayor for a four-year term with a landslide victory in the April 2008 spring elections.


Kenosha has been served by rail service to and from Chicago since 10:30 am on Saturday, May 19, 1855, when the predecessors to the Chicago and North Western Railway, the Milwaukee and Chicago Railway Company (originally the Illinois Parallel Railroad) and the original Lake Shore Railroad (later the Green Bay, Milwaukee and Chicago Railway) were officially joined with great ceremony just south of today's 52nd Street. Passenger service began on May 28, 1866 and continues to the present day.

Kenosha has the only Metra station in Wisconsin, with nine inbound and nine outbound trains each weekday, although not all Union Pacific/North Line trains terminate and originate in Kenosha; most terminate at Waukegan, Illinois to the south. Plans are underway to extend Regional Transportation Authority passenger service northwards from the Kenosha Metra Station through Racine County and into Milwaukee via the proposed KRM Line

As of June 17th, 2000, a two-mile streetcar route has served the downtown area and HarborPark, connecting the Metra station with downtown & several area parks. Kenosha is one of the smallest cities in America with any type of streetcar system today (though many cities this size originally had them in the pre-automobile era). In December 2005 the city council authorized a study on the expansion of streetcar service in order to connect the city's downtown amenities with the uptown business districts flanking 63rd Street and 22nd Avenue.

Kenosha was the first city to color-code transit routes (with the Blue, Green, Red and Orange Lines) and the first city to utilize electric trolley buses in full transit service, both occurring on February 14, 1932.

Kenosha is served by the major expressway Interstate 94 between Chicago and Milwaukee, and also by Amtrak's Hiawatha Line service (via the Sturtevant station in Racine County) between Chicago and Milwaukee, which runs seven times daily.

The street system in Kenosha is somewhat unusual; while numbered streets run east-west and numbered avenues run north-south as in many American cities, street numbering commences with First Street at Kenosha County's northern border (County Trunk Highway KR) rather than at the city's center. ('Roads' are diagonal thoroughfares, 'Courts' are short north-south avenues, and 'Places' are short east-west streets.) As such, the downtown area is in the area between 50th and 60th Streets. Avenue numbers increase as one heads west from the lakefront. This numbering system continues through all of Kenosha County, ending at 408th Avenue to the west at the Kenosha-Walworth County line, while north-south roads end at the Illinois state line at 128th Street. (Edmonton, Alberta has a similar numbering system.)



On March 13th, 2008 it was announced that three of Kenosha's downtown museums were named Smithsonian Institution affiliates - the Kenosha Public Museum, the Civil War Museum and the Dinosaur Discovery Museum.

Completed in 2000, the Kenosha Public Museum is located on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Its main exhibit is a prehistoric Wooly Mammoth skeleton uncovered in western Kenosha in 1992, the bones revealing new clues about ancient American history; cut marks on the bones indicate that the animals were butchered by humans using stone tools. Carbon dating of those bones indicates their age to be 12,500 years old, one thousand years earlier than the previously accepted presence of humans in the Americas. The museum also displays other Ice Age and fine-art exhibits.

The Kenosha History Center is within the old City water treatment plant on Simmons island next to the 1866 Simmons Island Kenosha Southport Light station, and showcases the history of Kenosha from the Indians and the first settlements to the present day. The Kenosha North Pier Light is also nearby.

Kenosha's Civil War Museum is under construction and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2008. The main exhibit is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2008. It will offer an interactive experience in the role of six Midwestern states before, during and after the American Civil War.

The Dinosaur Discovery Museum, designated a federal repository, opened in August, 2006 within the historic Old Post Office adjoining the 56th Street streetcar line at Tenth Avenue, and includes an on-site paleontology laboratory operated through the Carthage College Institute of Paleontology.

The Kenosha Transit Carhouse at 724 54th Street, which houses Kenosha's historic fleet of PCC streetcars, is occasionally open for guided tours.

Kenosha's new Maritime Museum is being created within the restored 1866 Southport Light and Lighthouse Keeper's cottage on Simmons Island.

A Children's Museum is also planned for the upper two floors of the Orpheum Building on Sixth Avenue at 59th Street, currently occupied by the Heim's Downtown Toy Store.


Summer band performances have been Kenosha favorites for over eighty years , traditionally by the Kenosha American Legion Band (renamed the Kenosha Concert Band in 1963 and now the Kenosha Pops Concert Band.) Since 1988 the concerts have been at Kenosha's Sesquicentennial Bandshell in Pennoyer Park each Wednesday from June 14 to August 2. Admission is free, and it is recommended that attendees bring their own lawn blankets or seating.

The Kenosha Lakeshore Youth Philharmonic offers an intensive orchestral experience to middle school and high school musicians.

Southeast Wisconsin Performing Arts (SEWPA sponsors the Opera a la Carte evening concert series featuring middle school, high school and college singers.

The KUSD music program has long been a national model, and its student concerts are led by guest conductors of world renown.

The KUSD orchestra program starts at the elementary school level with 4th grade students and reaches through the middle schools to the high schools. KUSD orchestras are frequently thought of as exceptional, and have produced musicians who have gone on to notable careers in music. The concert and symphony orchestras of the city's comprehensive high schools give fall and spring concerts, featuring outstanding performances. In addition, George N. Tremper High School is the home of the Tremper High School Golden Strings, a group, which, for 35 years, has performed throughout the United States and internationally. The annual KUSD Orchestra Festival, typically held in March each year, showcases student performances at all levels. This celebration of Kenosha's orchestras attracts huge crowds each year.

Band-O-Rama is a citywide public-school concert held annually since the mid-1950s , and features the Kenosha Unified School District's grades 5-through-12 bands totaling about 1,700 students. It typically begins with the National Anthem by grades 7-12; then, each grade plays several selections. At the finale, the massed bands offer John Phillip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" (Sousa's band often gave concerts in Kenosha.) The Band-O-Rama in particular usually sells over 3000 tickets over the weekend it is offered. Band-O-Rama is also held at Westosha/Central High School for the outlying school districts of Kenosha County but only includes grades 5-through-8.

The Kenosha Symphony Orchestra under Maestra Miriam Burns is highly regarded, and concerts are in the acoustically-correct Reuther Central Auditorium at Walter Reuther Central High School in downtown Kenosha.

Since 2002, the outdoor Peanut Butter and Jam Concert Series has been held every Wednesday in August. For 2007 the series has been changed and extended to every Thursday during the months of July and August with both a noontime and evening concert. Approximately three hundred attend each concert at Veteran's Memorial Park.

Lincoln Park Live! concerts began in 2005 on the Lincoln Park lawns near the Warren Taylor Memorial Gardens.

A number of outdoor jazz events are offered throughout the summer months, often at the historic Kemper Center.

The Catholic Youth Organization Emerald Knights Band of Kenosha is the oldest continuously running CYO Band on the planet. In 1939, CYO was created as an outlet for music education to the parochial schools and the CYO Band has grown to include students from all schools and backgrounds since then. In summer 2007, the CYO band began bringing the field show tradition back to Kenosha. By the end of summer 2008, the Emerald Knights had competed with countless talented bands all over the mid-west through the Mid-America Competing Band Directors Association (MACBDA).


Kenosha is home to Carthage College with over 2,000 fulltime students, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside with 5,000 students, mostly commuters, and Gateway Technical College. (The three colleges operate their own on-campus radio stations.) Concordia University Wisconsin, Cardinal Stritch University and Marquette University all maintain Kenosha branch campuses.

Kenosha is served by the Kenosha Unified School District. The district has twenty-three public elementary schools, six middle schools and six major high schools: Mary D. Bradford High School, George Nelson Tremper High School, Indian Trail Academy, Lakeview Tech Academy, Reuther Central High School and Harborside Academy, the latter a research school that uses the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound model; it was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Eighty percent of Kenosha's fourth-graders score 'proficient' and 'advanced' on reading tests, according to National Assessment of Educational Progress tests. Kenosha also has a number of parochial schools and independent academies, including St. Joseph's High School, Armitage Academy, Christ Lutheran Academy, Kenosha Montessori School, Shoreland Lutheran High School, the Brompton Academy, the Dimensions of Learning Academy, the Christian Life School, and the LakeView Advanced Technology Center. A number of professional schools are located in the city.

The Kenosha Public Library is part of the Kenosha County Library System, and operates four locations throughout the city. Daniel H. Burnham designed the 1900 Beaux-Arts architectured Gilbert M. Simmons Library, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The primary newspaper of Kenosha County is the Kenosha News, a broadsheet with circulation around 23,000 copies. Internet news source DailyKenoshan, is also well read in the area.

Kenosha is within the Chicago and Milwaukee broadcast market and is considered as part the Milwaukee television market by A.C. Nielsen, while Arbitron classifies Kenosha within the Chicago market. Five major radio stations broadcast from Kenosha: CBS affiliate WLIP (1050 AM), Gateway Technical College's WGTD (91.1 FM), a member station of the Wisconsin Public Radio Ideas Network along with locally based programming, hard rock WIIL (95.1 FM), and Zion-based classic rock station WWDV (96.9 FM), which simulcasts Chicago-based WDRV (97.1 FM). Carrier current station WIPZ (88.5 FM) serves the UW-Parkside area, and the Kenosha Convention and Visitors Bureau operates WPUR937 (1180 AM), a low-power tourist information station.

WPXE (Channel 55) is Kenosha's only locally licensed television station, and is owned by ION Television. However the station's analog transmitter is based in northern Racine County, while the digital tower is located in Milwaukee's tower farm site on the north side and the station's studios are just south of north suburban Glendale, so it serves the entire Milwaukee television market.

Time Warner Cable is Kenosha's licensed cable provider and provides access to both Milwaukee and Chicago stations. Public access television airs over channel 14 on that system.

Sports and recreation


Kenosha has a number of championship golf courses. Petrifying Springs Golf Course was named the "No. 1 Sporty Course in Wisconsin". The Washington Park Golf Course was dedicated on February 18, 1922, and its 1937 English-cottage clubhouse is a city landmark. Most recently there have been new high end private courses such as Strawberry Creek which was designed by Rick Jacobson has attracted much acclaim such as from Cybergolf


Kenosha is ringed by an emerald necklace of recreational city and county parks, and has eighteen miles (29 km) of Lake Michigan shoreline frontage, nearly all of which is public. The city has 74 municipal parks, totalling .

Kenosha's Washington Park includes the oldest operating velodrome in the United States (1927) at Washington Bowl. The Kenosha Velodrome Association sponsors American Bike Racing sanctioned races as well as training sessions at the "bowl" throughout the summer. Races are held on Tuesday evenings beginning in mid-May and continuing through August. Free seating is available on the inside of the track, and on important race days food and music is offered.

Petrifying Springs Park flanks the Pike River and was developed in the 1930s on the northwestern edge of the city, and is named for its artesian mineral water. Over ten miles of trails wind through the wooded park, which also features an 18-hole golf course.

Kenosha has been a Tree City USA since 1982.

Notable Kenoshans

Many Kenosha citizens have achieved national and world renown in a variety of fields. On June 7, 1990 a Chicago Tribune feature article ("The Kenosha Connection") marveled at the large number of Kenoshans in the arts and sciences. World-famous and highly respected American actor and director, Orson Welles, was born in Kenosha on May 6th, 1915.


Kenosha has received high rankings in several "Best-of" national surveys of American communities in recent year.

  • In its 2005 survey of United States communities, Money listed Kenosha as 94th on its list of "Best Places to Live".
  • The April 1997 Readers Digest ranked Kenosha in second place within its list of "Best Places to Raise a Family
  • Worldwide ERC rates Kenosha among the "Best Cities for Relocating Families" in the 500,000 to 250,000 metro population category.
  • In 2005, the Milken Institute rated Kenosha as the 86th among the largest 200 metro areas in the United States in its "Best Performing Cities" list
  • In May 2006, Inc. Magazine listed Kenosha at 45 on its "Hottest Midsize Cities" list.

Sister cities

Kenosha's four sister cities are:

See also


External links

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