Sheboygan, Wisconsin

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This article is about the city. For the adjacent town, see Sheboygan (town), Wisconsin.
Sheboygan's downtown looking southeast along N. 8th St., from Mead Public Library's top floor. The city's tallest building, the U.S. Bank Building, is in the background.
Sheboygan's downtown looking southeast along N. 8th St., from Mead Public Library's top floor. The city's tallest building, the U.S. Bank Building, is in the background.
Official logo of Sheboygan
City Logo
Nickname(s): Bratwurst Capital of the World,[1]
The City of Cheese, Chairs & Children[2]
Motto: Spirit on the Lake
Sheboygan is located in Wisconsin
Location within the state of Wisconsin
Coordinates: 43°45′0″N 87°43′30″W / 43.75000°N 87.72500°W / 43.75000; -87.72500Coordinates: 43°45′0″N 87°43′30″W / 43.75000°N 87.72500°W / 43.75000; -87.72500
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Sheboygan
Founded 1846
 • Mayor Mike Vandersteen (NP)
 • Total 14.11 sq mi (36.54 km2)
 • Land 13.97 sq mi (36.18 km2)
 • Water 0.14 sq mi (0.36 km2)
Population (2010)[4]
 • Total 49,288
 • Estimate (2012[5]) 48,895
 • Density 3,528.1/sq mi (1,362.2/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 53081 & 53083
Area code(s) 920

Sheboygan is a city in and the county seat of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, United States.[6] The population was 49,288 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Sheboygan, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Sheboygan River, about 50 mi (81 km) north of Milwaukee and 64 mi (103 km) south of Green Bay.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.11 square miles (36.54 km2), of which, 13.97 square miles (36.18 km2) is land and 0.14 square miles (0.36 km2) is water.[3] It is located at latitude 43°45' north, longitude 87°44' west.


Migrants from New York, Michigan, and New England, part of the Northern Tier of settlement and often descended from early New England settlers, were among the pioneers to this area in the 1830s. Among them were English immigrants, who had continued to enter the US in the early 19th century, and their descendants. Lumbering was the first major industry, as trees were harvested and shipped to eastern markets through the Great Lakes. Sheboygan was officially founded in 1846.[7] One settler remarked "Nearly all the settlers were from the New England states and New York."[8]

By 1849 the community was known for its German population, as it became a destination of a wave of German middle-class liberal immigrants, who reached the United States after the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. Dutch and Irish immigrants also came during this period, the Irish because of the Great Famine (Ireland) resulting from potato blight on their island. Both English Puritan descended Yankee settlers and the German immigrants were overwhelmingly opposed to slavery.

On June 25, 1849 William Williams wrote,

"Arrived at Sheboigin [sic] on the Wisconsin side, a small town population perhaps from 700 to 1000. This is a promising place. There are a great many best class of Germans settling around it. Tis all along the lake so far quite an interesting country."[9]

Between 1840 and 1890, Protestant Dutch immigrants also settled in areas of Wisconsin, including Sheboygan.[10]

In the spring of 1898 Sheboygan elected Fred C. Haack and August L. Mohr as aldermen, making them the first two Socialist Party candidates to be elected to public office in the United States. Haack had originally been elected in 1897 as a member of the Populist Party, but joined the Social Democrats after they had organized locally. Haack served as an alderman for sixteen years before moving to Milwaukee and getting elected as a Socialist alderman there. At the Socialist Party's 1932 convention Haack received official recognition as the first Socialist officeholder in America.[11][12]

In the early 20th century, many Slavonic Catholics and Lithuanians immigrated to Sheboygan. In the late 20th century, numerous Hmong veterans were helped to settle here from Laos and Southeast Asia, beginning with men who had fought for the CIA of the US in the Secret War.

Hmong community[edit]

Sheboygan Hmong New Year celebration at Sheboygan North High School, 2010

In 1976, the first three Hmong families were settled in Sheboygan with the help of refugee agencies. They were refugees from Laos, where communists had taken over the government and targeted the Hmong as allies of the US. By 1990, the city had 2,000 residents of Hmong decent. The people have struggled to gain a place in the US, as they were isolated by language and lack of a written language tradition. Through the 1990s, gang crime among this group began to increase, reflecting social problems in the community.[13] By December 1999, there were around 5,000 Hmong and Hmong American residents in Sheboygan, 65% of whom were under the age of 18.[13]

In December 1999, Robert L. Kaiser of the Chicago Tribune wrote,

"Sheboygan, like many heavily Hmong small towns in Wisconsin, has few readily apparent signs that such a large Hmong population is indeed there," as there were very few Hmong-owned businesses and "[m]any Hmong residents tend to keep to themselves."[13]

At that time, he reported that many Hmong residents still worked in jobs that did not require significant English fluency, such as automotive parts plants and other factories.[13]

In 2006, a Sheboygan Hmong Memorial was installed in a city park to honor Hmong military and civilian contributions to the Secret War in Laos (particularly from 1961-1975). The United States did not acknowledge the Secret War until 1997, under the administration of President Bill Clinton, as a result of Hmong and Congressional pressure.

In 2004, following several years of pressure from a coalition of U.S. conservatives and liberal human rights activists,[14] the U.S. government reversed a policy of denying immigration to Hmong who had fled Laos in the 1990s for refugee camps in Thailand. In a major victory for the refugees, the US government recognized some 15,000 Hmong as asylum seekers and afforded them expedited U.S. immigration rights.[15]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1940 40,638
1950 42,365 4.2%
1960 45,747 8.0%
1970 49,246 7.6%
1980 48,085 −2.4%
1990 49,718 3.4%
2000 50,792 2.2%
2010 49,288 −3.0%
Est. 2012 48,895 −0.8%

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[4] of 2010, there were 49, 288 people, 20,308 households, and 12,219 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,528.1 inhabitants per square mile (1,362.2/km2). There were 22,339 housing units at an average density of 1,599.1 per square mile (617.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 82.5% White, 1.8% African American, 0.5% Native American, 9.0% Asian, 3.6% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.9% of the population.

There were 20,308 households of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.4% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.8% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.06.

The median age in the city was 36.2 years. 25.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.2% were from 25 to 44; 24.8% were from 45 to 64; and 13.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.5% male and 50.5% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 50,792 people, 20,779 households, and 12,799 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,652.4 people per square mile (1,409.8/km²). There were 21,762 housing units at an average density of 1,564.9 per square mile (604.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.63% White, 0.86% Black or African American, 0.48% Native American, 6.48% Asian (with many being of Hmong descent), 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.85% from other races, and 1.68% from two or more races. 5.97% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Many of the residents have German ancestry, descended from immigrants of the late 1840s period.

There were 20,779 households out of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.2% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,066, and the median income for a family was $47,718. Males had a median income of $35,242 versus $24,690 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,270. About 6.2% of families and 8.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.8% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over.

Government and politics[edit]

Sheboygan has a council-manager form of government. The Common Council consists of 16 alderpersons.


Sheboygan Police Department[edit]

The Sheboygan Police Department was established in 1855, and after many years of being based out of City Hall, moved to a new headquarters on the city's central-west side in 2008. Its divisions include: the administrative services division, the honor guard, the patrol division, the street crimes unit, the criminal investigative division, the emergency response team, and the K-9 unit. It collaborates with the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department, the Sheboygan County Dive Team and the Sheboygan County MEG Unit. The department has 78 sworn officers, and 5 unsworn.

Sheboygan Fire Department[edit]

The Sheboygan Fire Department (SFD) provides fire suppression, emergency medical services, technical rescue, code enforcement, fire investigations, and public education for the city. The department has about 72 firefighters, many of whom also serve as paramedics providing basic and advanced life support services.

The SFD operates out of five fire stations under the command of three shift commanders. The department consists of two engine companies, two ladder companies, one rescue company, three paramedic ambulances, one fireboat, and other special, support, and reserve units. Staffing levels are between 16 and 22 personnel for fire/rescue emergency operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Station Apparatus Medic Unit Address
Station 1 Engine 1, Fire Boat 833 New York Avenue
Station 2 Engine 2, Command Post Med 2 2413 S 18th Street
Station 3 Rescue 3, Incident Command Med 3, Med 6 (reserve) 1326 N 25th Street
Station 4 Ladder 4, Engine 6 (reserve) Med 4 2622 N 15th Street
Station 5 Ladder 5, Engine 7 (reserve) 4504 S 18th Street

Police and Fire Commission[edit]

The Police and Fire Commission oversees Sheboygan Police Department and Sheboygan Fire Department operations. The Commission’s functions also include establishing recruitment and testing standards for positions in the police and fire departments, disciplining employees for misconduct, hearing disciplinary appeals, and independently investigating and monitoring citizen complaints. The members are appointed by the mayor and approved by the Common Council.


Sheboygan schools are administered by the Sheboygan Area School District. High schools within the city include:

Since 1995 Sheboygan has been the site of a local high school program called Rockets for Schools. Students engage in major projects to build and launch 8-and-20-foot-tall (2.4 and 6.1 m) rockets as part of their science studies.



Downtown 8th Street.
Historic Downtown Sheboygan.
Alliant Energy's Edgewater Generation Station, a coal-fired power plant on the city's south side, with the city's wastewater treatment plant in the foreground


Interstate 43 is the primary north-south transportation route into Sheboygan, and forms the west boundary of the city. U.S. Route 141 was the primary north-south route into Sheboygan before Interstate 43 was built, and its former route is a major north-south route through the center of the city that is referred to as Calumet Drive coming into the city from the north, and South Business Drive from the south; between Superior and Georgia Avenues, the highway is known as 14th Street. Four-lane Highway 23 is the primary west route into the city, and leads into the city up to North 25th Street as a freeway. Other state highways in the city include Highway 42, Highway 28, which both run mostly along the former inner-city routing of U.S. 141. Secondary county highways include County LS to the north; Counties J, O, PP, and EE to the west; and County KK to the south.

Commuter transit[edit]

Shoreline Metro provides public transit throughout the city as well as Kohler and Sheboygan Falls. All routes depart from the Metro Center, more known as the "Transfer Point" located in the downtown.

Jefferson Lines and Indian Trails serve Sheboygan at the Metro Center providing transportation to Milwaukee and Green Bay.


The Chicago & North Western built a rail line connecting Milwaukee and Green Bay. Sheboygan had a stop on the line that also served the Milwaukee Road. There are proposals to reestablish passenger service between Milwaukee and Green Bay that would include a stop at Sheboygan. There has been talk of establishing commuter service between Milwaukee and Sheboygan.


Sheboygan is served by the Sheboygan County Memorial Airport, which is located several miles from the city.


Sheboygan is bounded on the east by Lake Michigan. The city has no active port in the 21st century. Blue Harbor Resort is located on a peninsula between the lake and the Sheboygan River's last bend. This site was formerly used as the headquarters of the C. Reiss Coal Company (now a Koch Industries division). It was their base of operations for ships to load and unload coal for delivery along the peninsula.

The Sheboygan River passes through the city, but dams in Sheboygan Falls prevent navigation upriver. Tall-masted boats are confined to the river downstream of the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge. Commercial charter fishing boats dock near the mouth of the river.


The city's daily newspaper is The Sheboygan Press, which has been published since 1907. The free papers The Sheboygan Sun and The Beacon are mailed weekly to area residents and feature classified ads and other local content.

The city is served by television and radio stations in Green Bay and Milwaukee. A. C. Nielsen's television division places Sheboygan within the Milwaukee market, although Green Bay stations also report news, events, and weather warnings pertaining to Sheboygan and target the city with advertising.

Nielsen Audio places Sheboygan and Sheboygan County within one radio market, and several stations serve the area. Midwest Communications owns four stations within the county, including talk station WHBL (1330); country station WBFM (93.7); CHR/Top 40 WXER (104.5 from Plymouth, with a translator station on 96.1 in Sheboygan); and active rock Sheboygan Falls-licensed WHBZ (106.5). Fox Sports Radio affiliate WCLB (950) also serves the city, along with the Sheboygan Area School District's WSHS (91.7), a member of the Wisconsin Public Radio Ideas Network, and Plymouth's WJUB (1420), a standards station.

Various religious stations originating from Milwaukee and north of Green Bay and a translator for Kiel's WSTM (91.3), and NOAA Weather Radio station WWG91 broadcast from a tower in Sheboygan. WYVM acts as a full-power relay of Suring's WRVN (102.7), which has a religious teaching format.

The city is served by Charter Communications and AT&T U-verse, with public-access television cable TV programming provided to both systems from "WSCS". The city at one time had a television station, WPVS-LP, which went off the air following the digital switchover.[17]


Aurora Sheboygan Medical Center
  • Aurora Sheboygan Medical Center
  • St. Nicholas Hospital


Cycling and walking facilities[edit]

The city has one trail along the Highway 23 corridor leading to the Old Plank Road Trail to the west of Sheboygan that uses dedicated paths and bike lanes. A 2013 project created a north-south trail using the former Chicago & Northwestern Railroad right-of-way, with future expansion planned. Other plans include paths along the Taylor Drive corridor, and improvements to the south to allow connection to the Ozaukee Interurban Trail.[citation needed]

Bratwurst Days[edit]

Sheboygan County is well known for its bratwurst.[18] The Sheboygan Jaycees sponsor Bratwurst Days, an annual fund-raising festival that includes the Johnsonville World Bratwurst Eating Championship.[19][20]

Dairyland Surf Classic[edit]

Sheboygan hosts the annual Dairyland Surf Classic, the largest lake surfing competition in the world.[21][22]


Main article: Spaceport Sheboygan

Sheboygan is the site of a proposed new spaceport called Spaceport Sheboygan.[23]


Points of interest[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Sheboygan's sister cities are:

Sheboygan has student exchanges with both cities.[26]


  • Sheboygan was recognized by Reader's Digest as "The Best Place to Raise a Family" in the United States in 1995.[27]
  • Sheboygonians made Tricep patches popular, which have led Sheboygan to be the Unofficial Home of the Tricep Patch.[28]

Notable natives and residents[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "America's "Capitals of the World"". Retrieved 2013-08-27. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  5. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ One Hundred Years of Sheboygan, 1846–1946, by J. E. Leberman,
  8. ^ History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present volume 1 by Carl Zillier page 129
  9. ^ William Williams (1920) "Major William Williams' Journal of a Trip to Iowa in 1849", Annals of Iowa 7(4)
  10. ^ Wisconsin's Cultural Resource Study Units. Wisconsin Historical Society |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 13 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Elmer A. Beck, The Sewer Socialists, 1982, Westburg Associates Publishers, Fennimore, WI, p. 20.
  12. ^ "Former Sheboygan Alderman is Laid to Rest," Sheboygan Press, August 4, 1944.
  13. ^ a b c d Kaiser, Robert L. "After 25 Years In U.S., Hmong Still Feel Isolated", Chicago Tribune, December 27, 1999. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  14. ^ October 1995/ Acts of Betrayal: Persecution of Hmong at the Wayback Machine (archived October 23, 1995).
  15. ^ Minnesota Lawyers. Retrieved 14 Apr 2011
  16. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  17. ^ FCC Internet Services Staff. "FCC record of deleted station WHBL-TV". Retrieved 2013-08-27. 
  18. ^ "Sheboygan County Registrar of Deeds". 
  19. ^ "History". Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce. 
  20. ^ LaRose, Eric (2006-03-01). "City asked to abolish brat-eating contest". The Sheboygan Press (Gannett). 
  21. ^ "Dairyland Surf Classic". Wisconsin Department of Tourism. 
  22. ^ "Dairyland Surf Classic". 
  23. ^ Marley, Patrick (2005-11-28). "Bill envisions liftoff for Sheboygan". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2006-12-19. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  24. ^ "Significant Chronology for the Lottie Cooper". 
  25. ^ "Detailed Information for Lottie Cooper". Wisconsin's Maritime Trails. Wisconsin Historical Society. 
  26. ^ "Hungry still get their fill at Taste of Sheboygan". Sheboygan Press. 2007-03-05. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  27. ^ "The Sheboygan Press". Gannett. 
  28. ^ Http://
  29. ^ "John Dittrich NFL & AFL Football Statistics". 1933-05-07. Retrieved 2013-08-27. 
  30. ^ "Joe Hauser Statistics and History". Retrieved 2013-08-27. 
  31. ^ Knoche, Eldon; Associated Press (1996-08-05). "`Breakfast Club' host Don McNeill dies Radio legend, who grew up in Sheboygan, once was fired for seeking $3 raise at Milwaukee station". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Sentinel Inc.). 
  32. ^ "George Sauer NFL & AFL Football Statistics". 1943-11-10. Retrieved 2013-08-27. 
  33. ^ "Carl Schuette NFL Football Statistics". Retrieved 2013-08-27. 

External links[edit]