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Toronto, and Hamilton, on the one hand, and the Western Lake ports on the other. As regards New York and Boston, Milwaukee holds the most favorable position of any port on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Taking Buffalo as a common point on all the lines of trade between these ports and those markets, it will be seen : 1st. That Milwaukee, by water communication, has the advantage in time and distance over any places at the south. 2d. For the most direct route to Buffalo, either by land or water carriage, Milwaukee (so soon as the direct communication by the Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad is opened) presents the most natural centre for all the trade and travel between the Northwest and the East.
It may be remarked here, that this direct route, including, as it does, 81 miles of ferriage, from Milwaukee to Grand Haven, is considered by some as of doubtful practical utility, as a reliable and safe means of communication at all seasons. Let it be borne in mind, however, that ice never forms in Lake Michigan, owing to its great depth, and that the two termini of the ferry, viz: Milwaukee and Grand Haven harbors, would be kept open by the semidaily boats, if not by the direct action of the waves of the lake. The only severe storms to be feared being from the N. N. E., would not, even in the worst cases, prevent good staunch boats making their regular trips, as in leaving Milwaukee harbor they would be constantly making a windward shore and smooth sea, and in leaving Grand Haven, although approaching a lee shore and rough water, would have an easy and safe access to a secure river harbor. The only days on which regular trips could not be made would be those when the cold was so intense that ice would form rapidly on the running and steering machinery of the boats. This would not be, according to observations made for a series of years, more than five days in the year. Even the
present winter, with thirty days of cold weather, the harbor remained open.
As the general direction of Northwestern trade and travel is coincident with the parallels of latitude instead of those of longitude, and as Milwaukee is in the same degree as the great Eastern markets, it can be easily seen that all the contemplated and progressing improvements must make it the natural centre or most available common point in the Northwest, whether by the semi-inland route, through Michigan and Canada, or around the Lakes. The advantages of this position will be very strongly developed, so soon as the direct route east, via Grand Haven and Detroit or Port Huron, is opened, and our system of railroads to the Mississippi completed. Its business radius will then extend from below Savanna, Ill., in the Mississippi valley, to the extreme Northwest, sweeping in the trade of Northwestern Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, in addition to that of our own State.
The harbor of Milwaukee is one of the best on the Great Lakes. The river widens at its mouth into a semi-circular bay, 6 miles from point to point, and 232 miles across. At the point of approach to the lake, an artificial channel is in progress of construction.
This new harbor entrance is 260 feet in width, and will soon be excavated to a sufficient depth to accommodate the heaviest tonnage of the Lakes, and, when completed, will make it the most accessible and capacious on Lake Michigan. The facilities presented by the old harbor — in improving which the United States expended, in 1844–5, $50,000—will still be preserved. For over five-eighths of a mile between these two entrances, the river is both wide and deep. Nothing but the grossest and most ruinous neglect, on the part of the city and of the U. S. Government, will ever permit this old harbor to fill up or become useless.
EDUCATIONAL ADVANTAGES-HEALTHFULNESS OF LOCATION
Milwaukee, unlike many other cities of the West, combines the advantages of trade with equal advantages of education and health.
The system of Free Schools was early established in Wisconsin, by the appropriation of the sixteenth section of every township in the State for the support and maintenance of common schools. From the proceeds of the sectional and overflowed lands, donated to the State, it is estimated that the School Fund will amount to $5,000,000. The avails of this permanent fund are set apart for the purposes of education.
There are, in the City of Milwaukee, seven public schools. Each school has a primary, intermediate, and grammar department, and each department two or three teachers. The amount expended for educational purposes during the past year (aside from school-house repairs), was about $15,000. Of this sum, nearly $8000 accrues from the State Fund.
Besides the public schools, the city has a University, incorporated with full powers, and in successful operation, not inferior to any institution of the kind in the West. It has, also, a Female College in flourishing condition. In addition to these, there are several private schools of character and reputation, and a fully-organized Commercial College, all of which are well patronized and sustained.
Built upon the high bluffs of Lake Michigan, and the picturesque slopes of the Milwaukee river, this city is unrivalled in beauty of location by any other in the Northwest. It is a rare circumstance to hear of a person of delicate health leaving it on account of difficulty of acclimation. On the other hand, instances are numerous of
people coming here with tendency to diseases of various kinds, who have, after a few years' residence, entirely recovered. In summer it is not subject to the excessively hot and sultry weather of low towns, and in winter there is not the same intensity of cold — the lake being colder than the atmosphere in summer and warmer in winter. We estimate the mortality for the past year at two per cent., being less than the average of Boston or Buffalo for the past five years.
The rise, history, and growth of the City of Milwaukee, is one of the wonders of a marvellous age and region. A few years ago the present site was a solitary waste, or field of savage warfare. In 1834 it contained only two log houses. The following table will show its rapid increase, up to the present date.
This increase has not been spasmodic or forced, but has followed the growth of the country tributary to it.
The following table will show the assessed valuation of the real and personal property of the city. The preponderance in favor of the Third Ward is owing to the fact that the heaviest part of the mercantile wealth is located here, and constitutes nearly one-half of its valuation.
First Ward ........
The actual indebtedness of the city on the 4th of March, 1856, as reported by the City Comptroller, was $229,550.
The tax list is divided as follows for the current year of 1857 :
Real estate during the first six months of the past year advanced rapidly, and at the rate of 25 to 30 per cent. increase on the prices of 1855. It closed with prices steady at the advance made in the early part of the season. It was marked by great activity in building, and the improvements were of the most substantial character. In fact, their extent has been only limited by the supply of material and mechanics.
BUILDINGS AND IMPROVEMENTS.
Formerly, the brickmakers of Milwaukee were able to supply the consumption at home, and also export to the extent of 12,000,000. During the past year, although