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Wausau, Wisconsin

HistoryEdit The original Milwaukee Road train station was used as a logo for Wausau Insurance companies starting in 1954; the logo used this angle. This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house is one of two in the Andrew Warren Historic District. Several Prairie School houses are located in Wausau. FoundingEdit This area was occupied for thousands of years by succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic Ojibwe (also known in the United States as the Chippewa) occupied it in the period of European encounter. They had a lucrative fur trade for decades with French colonists and French Canadians. After the French and Indian War this trade was dominated by British-American trappers from the eastern seaboard. The Wisconsin River first drew European-American settlers to the area during the mid-19th century as they migrated west into the Great Lakes region following construction of theErie Canal in New York State. This provided a route for products from the region to the large New York and other eastern markets. The area had been called "Big Bull Flats" or "Big Bull Falls" by French explorers, who were the first Europeans here.[5] They named it for the long rapids in the river, which created many bubbles, called bulle in French. By an 1836 treaty with the United States, the Ojibwe ceded much of their lands in the area to federal ownership. It was sold to non-Native peoples. Wausau means "a faraway place" or "a place which can be seen from far away" in the Ojibwe language.[5] George Stevens, the namesake for the city of Stevens Point located south of Wausau, began harvesting the pine forests for lumber in 1840 and built a saw mill. Lumbering was the first major industry in this area, and other sawmills along the Wisconsin River were quickly constructed by entrepreneurs.[5] By 1846, Walter McIndoe arrived and took the lead in the local business and community. His efforts helped to establish Marathon County in 1850.[5] Word of Stevens' success in the region spread across the country throughout the logging industry. Loggers came from Cortland County, New York, Carroll County, New Hampshire, Orange County, Vermont and Down East Maine in what is now Washington County, Maine and Hancock County, Maine" migrants, that is to say they were descended from the English Puritans who had settled New England during the 1600s.[6] Early settlersEdit By 1852, Wausau had been established as a town and continued to grow and mature. German immigration into the area following the Revolutions of 1848 in the German statesbrought more people, and by 1861, the settlement was incorporated as a village.[5] Churches, schools, industry and social organizations began to flourish. The state granted the city a charter in 1872, and elections are held the first Tuesday in April.[5] The residents elected A. Kickbusch as their first mayor in 1874.[5] Five years earlier, Kickbusch had returned to his homeland of Germany and brought back with him 702 people, all of whom are believed to have settled in the Wausau area. Kickbusch founded the A. Kickbusch Wholesale Grocery Company, a family business carried on by his grandson, August Kickbusch II. In 1917, August Kickbusch II purchased a modest, four-square-style house at 513 Grant Street.[7] He undertook extensive and additions, adding two sun rooms, arcaded windows, a tiled porch in the Mediterranean style, a formal classical entrance, and ornate custom-designed chimney crowns. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Andrew Warren Historic District. When the railroad arrived in 1874, Wausau became more accessible to settlers and industry. This enabled the city to develop alternatives to the lumber industry, which was in decline since the clear-cutting of many forests. By 1906 the lumber was gone, but the city continued to grow and flourish.[8] Other villages and towns in the area declined because of over-harvesting of the forests and lumber mills closed down. Twentieth centuryEdit The Grand Theater, built in 1927, replaced the Grand Opera House (1899). Wausau's favorable location on the Wisconsin River was partly responsible for the city's survival. The economy was diversified in the early 20th century, led by the insurance group, the Employers Insurance of Wausau, now a part of Liberty Mutual. Its logo, first introduced in 1954, was the downtown Milwaukee Road railroad depot, which was set against the backdrop of the community's skyline. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 had a major effect on the Wausau area. Many industries were forced to cut back by laying off and dismissing workers or by closing altogether.[5]After decades of growth, the city virtually ground to a halt. However, under the New Deal, Wausau was significantly modernized. After World War II, the city once again continued to grow in industry, education, recreation, and retail, more than in population. After the fall of Saigon, Hmong refugees from Southeast Asia who fought alongside the CIAimmigrated into Wausau at the end of the 1970s. Wausau church organizations (Catholic and Lutheran) helped Hmong refugees adapt to American life. The 400 Block in downtown Wausau In 1983, the Wausau Center shopping mall opened. By the mid-to-late-1990s, the city of Wausau began to purchase and develop parts of West Industrial Park to meet the needs of the expanding economy and companies. In the late 1990s, the city demolished a number of aging buildings on a square in the center of downtown, creating what is known locally as the 400 Block, an open, grassy block with paved sidewalks crossing it. The square is a focal point for summer festivals.[9] In recent years Wausau has redone the 400 Block, adding a permanent stage and other renovations that in total cost $2 million. The new millenniumEdit By the end of the 20th century, Wausau began to implement the Wausau Central Business District Master Plan,[10] which included redevelopment and economic restructuring of downtown Wausau. In recent years, Wausau has become known as the "Chicago of the north."[citation needed] This title was first penned by industrialist Lance Mayberry upon his arrival in the bustling metropolis. The tallest commercial building in Wisconsin outside of Milwaukee is located in Wausau, the 241-foot Dudley tower.[11] Significant school construction in recent years has occurred in response to changing demographics.[12]

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