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About Wauwatosa

The City of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is located four miles west of downtown Milwaukee. Wauwatosa is centrally located within Metro Milwaukee, and is very accessible with direct access to Highway 45 and close proximity to Interstate 94. 

The City of Wauwatosa is primarily served by General Mitchell International Airport located nine miles southeast of the City. 


Demographic information is available from the US Census Bureau

 A Brief History

1835: The first permanent settlement in Wauwatosa Township was established by Charles Hart when he built the first house on land situated opposite Root Common on Harwood Avenue. Hart built a grist mill and a saw mill on the west side of the Menomonee River at what is now Harwood Avenue, and the area fittingly came to be known as Hart’s Mills.

1836: United States road from Milwaukee through Wauwatosa and on to Madison (part of present-day Harwood Avenue) is built.

1837: The US Government constructed the first bridge across the Menomonee River at Hart’s Mills. A wagon road following an old trail passed through Wauwatosa from Milwaukee to Watertown. Forty-five miles long, it had toll gates every three miles and was known as the “Watertown Plank Road” as it was paved with 3/8” planks that were eight feet long.

1840: The Town of Wauwatosa is created by an Act of Legislature of the Wisconsin Territory.

1841: The first public school building was erected north of Root Common (now the intersection of Harwood and Wauwatosa Avenues).

1842: The first town meeting was held on April 5, 1842 and Charles Hart was elected chairman of the board. Until 1842, Wauwatosa was attached to the township of Milwaukee. Possible names for the new township created much discussion; the name “Wauwautosa” was suggested, for two reasons: (1) In the language of Potawatomi tribe, the word “wau-wau-tae-sie” means ‘firefly.’ This part of the Menomonee River Valley housed swarms of fireflies in the summer. (2) The name would also honor the Potawatomi chief, Chief Wauwautaesie. When the name was eventually adopted, however, the spelling became “Wauwatosa” due to an error.

1854: The Little Red Store, still standing in the Village, was built. First used as a dwelling, later a grocery store, post office, railroad depot, and library, it has been restored and is now owned by the Wauwatosa Historical Society.

1871: The first high school was built on the same site as the present Wauwatosa East High School.

1882: The first public library is established.

1892: On October 8, the Village of Wauwatosa was incorporated from a central area of the town. Edward Coulthard became president of the Village Board and the population 2,248.

1895: The business district was leveled by a fire. It started in a bakery near the center of town and rapidly spread to the buildings on State Street. From there, despite the efforts of the volunteer firemen and bucket brigades, the fire sped up Harwood Avenue toward Root Common. By nightfall, the entire business district was in ruins. This event led to the creation of the first paid, part-time fire department.

1897: On May 27 (view excerpt of minutes), the Village became a city of the fourth class and Emerson Hoyt, its first banker, was elected as its first mayor.

1898: A fire house and City Hall are built on Underwood Avenue

1915: The first full-time police force is established.

1921: Known as the “city of homes,” Wauwatosa became the second city in the state to adopt a zoning ordinance. The ordinance established a designated use for each lot plotted, and designated residential districts; stores and manufacturing operations were limited to certain streets.

1930: Wauwatosa became a city of third class, with a population of more than 10,000.

1952: The last significant annexation occurred on November 25 when the Common Council passed a charter ordinance annexing an area 8 ½ square miles from the Town of Wauwatosa, creating a municipality of 13 square miles.

1960: The land formerly known as Wauwatosa City Park became Charles Hart Park in 1960 in recognition of the first settler, close to the site of Charles Hart’s first mill near the present 72nd and Chestnut Street.

1970: Wauwatosa became a city of the second class after the 1970 census, when it was shown to have more than 58,000 residents.

2010 and Beyond: Wauwatosa’s population has settled to over 47,000 persons and has seen slow and steady growth since 2010—continuing to be an attractive place to live and work.

Census Year Population
2017 population estimate
2016 population estimate
2015 population estimate
2014 population estimate
2013 population estimate  46,710
2012 population estimate 46,320
2011 population estimate
2010 Census 46,396
2000 Census 47,271
1990 Census 49,484
1980 Census 51,310
1970 Census 58,676
1960 Census 56,923
1950 Census 33,324
1940 Census 27,769
1930 Census 21,194
1920 Census 5,818
1910 Census 3,346
1900 Census 2,842
1892 Census (Village of Wauwatosa incorporated) 2,248

Current & Past Alderpersons

Mayors: 1897-Present
Mayor Years in Office
Emerson D. Hoyt 1897-1904
ER Godfrey 1904-1906
Charles B. Perry 1906-1916
Hans Koenig 1916-1920
AC.Hanson 1920-1934
Alfred C. Loose 1934-1943
William B. Knuese 1943-1964
Ervin A. Meier 1964-1972
Francis D. Kuckuck 1972-1976
James A. Benz 1976-1984
James A. Brundahl 1984-1992
Maricolette Walsh 1992-2000
Theresa M. Estness 2000-2008
Jill Didier 2008-2011
Eric Meaux 2011-2012 
Kathleen Ehley

View information on current elected officials.








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