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Madison is the state capital of Wisconsin and lies 75 miles (121km) west of Milwaukee. It was established as the capital of the Territory of Wisconsin in 1836 and was named after United States President James Madison. It is one of the most attractively situated state capitals. Historically, industries here have included food processing, medical equipment and motor vehicle components and as of 2017, the population stood at 255,214.

The city is known for the imposing Wisconsin State Capitol Building, which sits on an isthmus of land between lakes Mendota and Monona. Madison is the seat of the University of Wisconsin (founded when Wisconsin achieved statehood in 1848) and other sites of note in the city include the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center and the Wisconsin Historical Museum. The city is considered one of the best places in the United States in which to live and work. A network of trails suitable for walking and cycling provides access to the scenic lakes around the city. Below are featured some of the attractions seen during a visit here in 2018.

Wisconsin State Capitol Building

Above: Composite image showing the Wisconsin State Capitol Building from Capitol Square

The imposing 200 foot (60m) dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol (shown above) rises above Madison’s beautiful downtown. It was designed by American architect George Browne Post and is one of his most important buildings. The building seen today was built from 1906-1917 at a cost of $7.2 million and is the fifth building to serve as the Wisconsin capitol since the first territorial legislature convened in 1836 (and the third since Wisconsin was granted statehood in 1848). Post was trained in the Beaux-Arts tradition and the building’s design, which includes four proportional wings and a central dome, shows his leaning towards this particular style of architecture. The Wisconsin State Capitol is the tallest building in Madison, a result of legislation that prohibits buildings taller than the columns surrounding the dome. Situated on a hill at its centre and surrounded by the shady trees, lawns and park benches of Capitol Square, the building is 284-feet, 5- inches tall from the ground floor to the top of the gilded bronze statue of “Wisconsin” atop its dome. The dome itself is also distinctive; it is the largest granite dome in the world. The interior is lavishly decorated and contains a rotunda, encircled by marble Corinthian columns, and a decorative four-panel mosaic symbolising the themes of liberty and justice. The building has a panoramic observation deck and small museum, which is open during the summer months.

Wisconsin Historical Museum

The Wisconsin Historical Museum (shown above) is located on the north side of Capitol Square. It is operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society and chronicles the history of the state. Displays include sections on the Native American Ojibwa and Ho-Chunk (also known as Hoocąągra or Winnebago) cultures, as well as political figures, such as Robert Marion La Follette Sr. La Follette, known as “Fighting Bob”, represented Wisconsin in both chambers of Congress and served as the Governor of Wisconsin. He became leader of the Progressive Movement and was noted for his support of reform legislation. As well as displays associated with Wisconsin, the museum also has information about other American history topics. The information in the museum is engaging, with various artefacts, photographs, audio-visual presentations, interactive multimedia programmes and full-scale dioramas. Just across the street from the Wisconsin Historical Museum is another museum, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, which has displays on every major American conflict since the Civil War.

Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center

A few blocks southeast of Wisconsin State Capitol is the lakeside Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. It was completed in 1997 from plans proposed by Frank Lloyd Wright and has a modern and spacious rooftop terrace that provides excellent views of the downtown area and over Lake Monona. It includes a memorial to Otis Redding (1941-1967), who died the day before he was due to play in Madison with the Bar-Kays band; his Beechcraft H18 aeroplane crashed into the lake with Bar-Kays member Ben Cauley, the accident's only survivor. More information on the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center can be found on this website on a page featuring some buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright (bookmarked link Here). The thumbnail gallery below shows photographs taken of the building and from atop its magnificent roofed terrace (click on an image to enlarge):

West of Downtown

On the visit to Madison featured on this page, a drive was taken from the downtown area in a westerly direction, just south of the city’s larger lake, Lake Mendota. The road passed the city’s University of Wisconsin buildings. This is a public research university and its main campus is spread over 933 acres (378ha).

On the university campus are to be found four National Historic Landmarks. Buildings of note here include Bascom Hall, the Victorian Gothic Music Hall, the Brutalist George L. Mosse Humanities Building, Van Hise Hall, Grainger Hall, The Wisconsin Union, Dejope Hall, the DeLuca Biochemistry Building, the library and several museums, including the The Chazen Museum of Art, which maintains a collection of paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints and photographs spanning a period of over 700 years. The University also owns and operates a historic 1,200-acre (486ha) arboretum, 4 miles (6.4km) south of the main campus.

Continuing past various university buildings, a stop was made at the Unitarian Meeting House in the suburban village of Shorewood Hills (or in full, the Meeting House for the First Unitarian Society of Madison). The building was constructed from 1949-51 and like (the exterior of) Monona Terrace, was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The cost of construction was $165,000 and this was kept down by much work from the parishioners, who carried the building’s stone from the quarry themselves. This particular church has over 2,000 members and is one of the largest Unitarian Universalist congregations in the United States. More information on the meeting house can be found on this website on a page featuring some buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright (bookmarked link Here). Also, further photographs from the visit to Madison featured on this webpage are shown below (click on an image to enlarge):


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