About Wauwatosa

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Thanks for visiting our website! In Wauwatosa you will find uncommon community next door to everything. We have an unparalleled location - four miles west of downtown Milwaukee with proximity to everything the region has to offer.

We encourage you to explore our website and learn more about:

  • what a great community we are
  • what you can do to get involved
  • how to stay connected
  • to be informed about what your Common Council and city are working on
  • and much more

We encourage our community to work together because we know that together we can do amazing things to keep Wauwatosa the strong and vibrant community we love.

Here are some quick resources to help you get started, and again, welcome to Wauwatosa!


Demographics

Demographic information is available from the US Census Bureau.


History

1835: The first permanent settlement in Wauwatosa Township was established by Charles Hart when he built the first house on land 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. The area became known as Hart’s Mills.

1836: A road from Milwaukee through Wauwatosa to Madison was built, now part of the present day Harwood Avenue.

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 Watertown Plank Road. It was paved with 3/8” planks that were eight feet long.

1840: The Town of Wauwatosa was 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: 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 and the name honored 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 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.

1882: The first public library was 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 was 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 the fire spread 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 was elected as the first mayor.

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

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

1921: Wauwatosa became the second city in the state to adopt a zoning ordinance that 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.

1970: Wauwatosa became a city of the second class after the 1970 census.

2010 and Beyond: Wauwatosa’s population has settled to over 46,000 persons.


Population

Census Year Population
2017 Population Estimate 47,389
2016 Population Estimate 47,160
2015 Population Estimate 46,947
2014 Population Estimate 46,766
2013 Population Estimate 46,710
2012 Population Estimate 46,320
2011 Population Estimate 46,380
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

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