Racine - Encyclopedia

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RACINE, a city and the county-seat of Racine county, Wisconsin, U.S.A., on the W. shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Root river, about 25 m. S.S.E. of Milwaukee and about 60 m. N. of Chicago. Pop. (1890) 21,014; (1900) 29,102, of whom 9242 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 38,002. Racine is served by the Chicago & North Western and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul railways, by two interurban electric railways, connecting with Milwaukee and Chicago, and by steamboat lines. The river has been deepened and its mouth protected by breakwaters, providing an excellent harbour; in 1909 vessels drawing 19 ft. could pass through the channel. Among the public buildings are the City Hall, the County Court House, the Federal Building, the Carnegie Library, the High School, two hospitals and the Taylor Orphan Asylum (1872). Among educational institutions, besides the public schools, are Racine College (Protestant Episcopal, 18J3), St Catherine's Academy (Roman Catholic) and two business colleges. Racine is, next to Milwaukee, the most important manufacturing centre in Wisconsin. The value of its factory products in 1905 was $16,458,965, an increase of 41% over that of 1900. Of this, $5,177,079 (or 31.5% of the city's total) represented agricultural implements and machinery. Carriages and wagons ($2,729,311) and automobiles ranked next in importance.

Racine was the French form of the name of the Root river. The first Europeans positively known to have visited the site of Racine were Vincennes, Tonty and several Jesuit missionaries, who stopped here for a time on their way down the coast in 1699. Early in the 19th century Jambeau, a French trader, established himself on the Root river, and in 1834 Gilbert Knapp (1798-1889), who had been a lake captain since 1818, induced several residents of Chicago to make their homes at its mouth. The place was at first called Port Gilbert. The settlement grew rapidly, a sawmill was built in 1835, and the present name was adopted in 1837. In 1841 Racine was incorporated as a village and in 1848 was chartered as a city.

See S. S. Hurlburt, Early Days at Racine (Racine, 1872); History of Racine and Kenosha Counties (Chicago, 1879).

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