Sometimes described as "The City of Four Lakes," the heart of Madison, Wisconsin is located on an isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona. Many businesses are attracted to Madison's skill base, taking advantage of the area's high level of education. 48.2% of Madison's population over the age of 25 holds at least a bachelor's degree. Forbes magazine reported in 2004 that Madison has the highest percentage of individuals holding Ph.D.s in the United States. With an unemployment rate of 3.5%, Madison was ranked number one in a list of "ten cities for job growth". In 1996 Money magazine identified Madison as the best place to live in the United States. The city has consistently ranked near the top of the best-places list in subsequent years, with the city's low unemployment rate a major factor in that rating.
James Duane Doty, a territorial Judge and land speculator, traveled through the area and liked it so much that he bought 1,200 acres of land and platted a grid of streets. He then persuaded the territorial legislature to designate Madison as the site for the new capital. Doty named the city Madison for James Madison, the 4th President of the U.S. and named the streets around the capitol square for the other signers of the U.S. Constitution. A land grant for the University of Wisconsin was declared in 1848 and Madison became a city in 1856 with a population of more than 6,800 residents. During the Civil War, Madison served as a center for the Union Army and the site of a prison camp for captured Confederate soldiers. Madison’s political view has been progressive since the early 1900’s and continues today with a democratic leadership and a liberal and progressive majority in the city council.
Typical of a northern climate, the summer weather in Madison is ideal, with warm high temperatures typically in the 80°F range and cool lows in the comfortable 50’s to 60’s. Winters can be snowy and cold, with temperatures staying below freezing for successive days and low temperatures in the single digits.
The local bus system, Metro Transit, serves both downtown and the residential neighborhoods of Madison, including the schools, the universities, and the surrounding communities. The Dane County Regional Airport serves more than 100 commercial flights on an average day and nearly 1.6 million passengers annually. Regional buses connect Madison to Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis–Saint Paul, and many other communities. Many major streets in Madison have designated bike lanes and the city has one of the most extensive bike trail systems in the nation.
Cost of Living in Madison
Madison has a relatively high cost of living at 7.5% above the national average and 10% above the average for all of Wisconsin. Use these cost of living calculators to determine your budget requirements in Madison.
According to Forbes magazine, Madison ranks second in the nation in education. 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.
University of Wisconsin Hospital and its clinics are the number one hospital system in Madison as well as the entire state. This hospital system provides general medical and surgical services. UWH is also a teaching hospital. If you’re planning a move to Madison, it’s a good idea to know all the medical resources available to you.
Madison Real Estate
The home-buying market in Madison has been relatively stable with only a small decline in recent years, as compared to other markets. Use the links below to find homes for sale in Madison.
For premier accommodations in Madison, it is hard to top the Madison Concourse Hotel, located in the heart of the city. If you prefer cosmopolitan style, HotelRED is a boutique hotel just steps from the eclectic shops of Monroe Street, the University of Wisconsin and the Southwest Trail. If you want a break from city life, The Speckled Hen Inn is a bed and breakfast just outside Madison on a beautiful rural setting with trees, meadows, and gardens. Find your perfect place to stay using the links below.
Dozens of uniquely original restaurants dotting the city of Madison make dining a treat. Brasserie V is a casual, French and Belgium-influenced neighborhood restaurant featuring European country cooking, located near the university. Nearby is Lombardino’s, one of Wisconsin’s top Italian restaurants, featuring locally grown ingredients. Closer to downtown, The Blue Marlin is Madison’s premier seafood restaurant and Essen Haus is Madison’s authentic German restaurant and drinking hall. Explore the Madison restaurant choices using the links below.
Things to Do in Madison
If you love outdoor sports, you will love Madison. During the winter months, sports enthusiasts enjoy ice-boating, ice skating, ice fishing and cross-country skiing. During the rest of the year, outdoor recreation includes sailing on the local lakes, bicycling, and hiking. Madison hosts many music festivals throughout the summer, including the Waterfront Festival, the Willy Street Fair, the Isthmus Jazz Festival, and the Madison World Music Festival. Madison also features an opera company, a symphony orchestra, a chamber orchestra, and a ballet, all residing at the Overture Center for the Arts. The Chazen Museum of Art features over 20,000 works of art in the museum’s collections, representing the entire spectrum of art history across culture, period, media, and genre. To plan your trip to Madison, use the links below.