Before being incorporated as a city in 1846, the area that is now Milwaukee was at one time home to the Algonkian Indians. Likely due to its location at the confluence of the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic and Milwaukee rivers, the Algonkian tribe named the land Millioki (which means "gathering place by the waters"). Today, this aptly named gathering place is the largest city in Wisconsin and the 27th largest city in the U.S. Spanning 96 square miles, the city is home to approximately 600,000 people, while the Milwaukee metropolitan area, which stretches across four counties, has a population of 1.7 million people.
A Midwestern melting pot, Milwaukee is home to a diverse tapestry of converging cultures. The many ethnic neighborhoods peppered throughout the city contribute to Milwaukee's colorful, eclectic spirit. Flavorful restaurants and specialty shops line the streets of the city's various ethnic enclaves, while a flurry of festivals celebrate the city's diverse cultural heritage. Nicknamed the "City of Festivals," Milwaukee's 75-acre lakefront Henry Maier Festival Park is host to some of the nation's largest ethnic festivals - Polish Fest, Festa Italiana, German Fest and Irish Fest - along with Mexican Fiesta and Indian Summer. Beyond these lively cultural celebrations, the city sizzles with Summerfest, the world's largest music festival held over 11 days in June/July.
Infused with new life by a spectacular building boom, Milwaukee has transformed from "Brew City" to "New City." This jewel of the Great Lakes region has undergone massive revitalization efforts that have propelled it to the status of an internationally recognized hub of arts, culture and entertainment. Named one of Newsweek's Top 20 Can-Do Capitals in 2011, Milwaukee is home to MillerCoors and several other high profile companies including Harley-Davidson, Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual and Manpower, Inc. In addition, several well-known colleges and universities call the city home including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, Alverno College, Milwaukee School of Engineering and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
The renewed energy of Milwaukee's urban renaissance has ignited the city's art scene. Milwaukee has been ranked number 1 in the nation for donations raised per capita for the arts, and AmericanStyle magazine named it as part of their "Top 25 Arts Destinations." The city's downtown theater district sets the stage for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Florentine Opera, the Milwaukee Ballet and Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Adjacent to the downtown district, Milwaukee's "SoHo," the Historic Third Ward, is home to more than 20 art galleries, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and the Broadway Theater Complex, which houses the renowned Skylight Music Theatre and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre.
With its delightful blend of modern sophistication and old-world charm, Milwaukee is making great strides toward the future while continuing to embrace its rich past. Home to a wealth of historic landmarks, the city was named one of the 2006 "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Milwaukee's history is showcased at the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion, Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museums and St. Joan of Arc Chapel.