Main Births etc
West Bend, Wisconsin
—  City  —
Aerial view of downtown West Bend Wisconsin.jpg
An Aerial view of downtown West Bend Wisconsin.
WIMap-doton-West Bend.png
Location of West Bend within Wisconsin.
Coordinates: 43°25′22″N 88°11′03″W / 43.4227777, -88.1842611Coordinates: 43°25′22″N 88°11′03″W / 43.4227777, -88.1842611
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Washington
Incorporated 1885
Annex of Barton November 1, 1961
 • Mayor Kraig Sadownikow
 • Total 14.72 sq mi (38.12 km2)
 • Land 14.57 sq mi (37.74 km2)
 • Water 0.15 sq mi (0.39 km2)
Elevation 932 ft (284 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 31,078
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 31,540
 • Density 2,133.0/sq mi (823.6/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 262

West Bend is a city in and the county seat of Washington County, Wisconsin, United States, in southeastern Wisconsin. As of the 2010 census, the population was 31,078.[4]


Before the arrival of European settlers in southeastern Wisconsin, the Potawatomi and Menominee Indians inhabited the land now occupied by the city of West Bend.

In 1845, the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature authorized the building of a road to connect Fond du Lac and Milwaukee. Byron Kilbourn, one of the highway commissioners, and Jasper Vliet, a surveyor, were put in charge of determining the route the road would take and of identifying a good halfway point for travelers. The path they chose is now U.S. Route 45 and the rest stop is present-day West Bend. Because many people used the resting place, it evolved into a popular area. The Milwaukee River running through the town eventually played a major role in the city's history. It was because of the western bend in the river that West Bend got its name. The river also produced enough energy to power saw mills and gristmills. Early buildings included Holy Angels Catholic Church, built in 1852 at the corner of Hickory and 7th. In 1866 this building was converted into a school, and a new church was built at Elm and 7th under the direction of Reverend Johann Baptist Reindl (1827–1891).[5][6] The railroad arrived in 1873, bringing with it more settlers and industrialization. At this time, West Bend saw a growth spurt, and in 1885 the city officially became an incorporated Wisconsin community.[7]

The Village of BartonEdit

In 1845 early settler Barton Salisbury, while on a surveying trip up the Milwaukee River, found a rapids that he believed would be a good source of power for a sawmill. He built a log hut on the west side of the river and the village of Barton was born. On November 1, 1961, the city of West Bend annexed the Village of Barton.[8]

April 4, 1981 tornadoEdit

On April 4, 1981, a tornado struck the city killing three people, and injuring another 53. There is now a monument at a park near Green Tree Elementary School.[9]

Library controversyEdit

In 2009, a controversy arose after a local couple complained to the West Bend Community Memorial Library about the presence of "sexually explicit books" and "books for youth on homosexuality" in the young adult section of the library.[10][11] A petition[12] called on the library to label the identified books as explicit; to move them to the adult section of the library; to install Internet content filters on the library's computers; and to purchase books that represented "a balance of materials related to heterosexuality and homosexuality".

The West Bend Common Council refused to reappoint four library trustees whose terms were ending.[13] One councilman complained that the library board was stonewalling the complaint, while another asserted that the library trustees were not serving the interests of the community “with their ideology.”[14] The council's actions were widely criticized, and local citizens unsuccessfully sought to have the vote rescinded.[15][16][17] After a public hearing on the petition in June 2009,[18] the library board voted to reject any restrictions on young adults' access to books in the library.[19][20]

The Christian Civil Liberties Union filed a claim against the West Bend library, asking that Francesca Lia Block's book Baby Be-Bop be "burned or destroyed".[21][22][23]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.72 square miles (38.12 km2), of which, 14.57 square miles (37.74 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.39 km2) is water.[1]

West Bend is in the Kettle Moraine region, and its topography is varied. The glacial activity has formed many kettles and hills throughout the region.


The average temperature in West Bend ranges from a high of 81 °F (July) to a low average temperature of 11 °F (January). Record high and low temperatures are 107 °F and -30 °F, respectively.[24] The average annual rainfall is 31.4 inches. The average annual snow measures 45.6 inches.[25]


2010 censusEdit

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 31,078 people, 12,769 households, and 8,250 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,133.0 inhabitants per square mile (823.6 /km2). There were 13,546 housing units at an average density of 929.7 per square mile (359.0 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.8% White, 1.0% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 1.4% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.9% of the population.

There were 12,769 households of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.1% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.4% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% 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 2.96.

The median age in the city was 37 years. 24.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.9% were from 25 to 44; 24.3% were from 45 to 64; and 14.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.

2000 censusEdit

At the 2000 census,[26] there were 28,152 people, 11,375 households and 7,518 families residing in the city [6]. The population density was 2,218.3 per square mile (856.5/km²). There were 11,926 housing units at an average density of 939.7 per square mile (362.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.30% White, 0.34% Black or African American, 0.42% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.61% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. 1.84% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 11,375 households of which 32.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.3% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.00.

Age distribution was 25.5% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.6 males.

The median household income was $48,315, and the median family income was $56,299. Males had a median income of $39,904 versus $23,816 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,116. About 3.4% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.5% of those under age 18 and 3.7% of those age 65 or over.


The city is governed by the city council, consisting of the mayor and eight alderpersons.[27]


Washington County Courthouse Wisconsin

The Washington County courthouse in West Bend.

Although many current residents of West Bend work in neighboring communities, the city's economy has been historically based in manufacturing and financial services. West Bend Mutual Insurance Company was founded in the city in 1894[28] and West Bend Savings Bank (now Westbury Bank) in 1926.[29] The West Bend Aluminum Company (later the West Bend Company) was founded in 1911 by Bernhardt C. Ziegler,[30] and remained in West Bend until 2003. Ziegler had previously founded the securities brokerage company B.C. Ziegler & Co. in 1902.[31] In 1915 Robert H. Rolfs founded Amity Leather in downtown West Bend, which eventually became the world's largest manufacturer of leather billfolds.[32] Amity leather left the city in 1996. The strong economy in West Bend in the 1930s led Ripley's Believe it or Not to claim that West Bend was the only city in the United States that did not enter the Great Depression. In 1949, the printing company Serigraph, Inc. was founded in a garage in West Bend and went on to employ people all over the world.[33] The Gehl Company is also located in West Bend.[34]


The Army National Guard operates an armory near the airport, at 125 Chopper Drive, West Bend.


The West Bend Municipal Airport is located three miles east of West Bend.


The city is served by the West Bend School District. The public schools in the district include six elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools.

A public charter school (Pathways) was created, which will serve grades 7-10 in the 2014-2015 school year. The school will continue to add a grade level each year until becoming a school serving grades 7-12, beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.

The two high schools, West Bend East and West Bend West, are housed in a single building. The schools share facilities, but are operated as independent schools. Each school has its own sports teams and mascot.

Rolf's Educational Center provides Head Start, Title I, and Early childhood education programs.

The district also operates an alternative school, the West Bend Online Learning Academy.

Post-secondary schools in West Bend include University of Wisconsin-Washington County (UWWC) and Moraine Park Technical College.

There are also a number of private schools.


West Bend is a city of trails. A paved riverwalk snakes through the city along the banks of the Milwaukee River. The recently completed Eisenbahn Trail,[35] a Rails to Trails project, has added another trail for walking, running, biking, and roller skating. West Bend also has numerous parks and play areas.

Just north of downtown is Regner Park, which offers a wooded area for hiking, a baseball diamond, a community swimming pond with a beach, a fishing pond, and several softball and soccer fields. On the southeast side of the city is Quaas Creek Park, home to the Roman "Doc" Gonring Athletic Complex and Quaas Creek Trail.[36] This facility includes scenic bike/pedestrian trails, a canoe launch, three softball fields with two concession stands, and a children's playland area. This park was a community effort, funded with public and private donations, state and federal grants, and supported by efforts of the West Bend Athletic Association and the West Bend Parks Department.

The city's downtown area has several specialty shops, an active night life and historic buildings. Maxwell Street Days and German fest are two popular summer events held in the downtown. Seafood Fest is held every year at Regner Park on the first weekend in June. The Farmer's Market every Saturday in downtown West Bend is a place to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers. A more recent annual event in Riverside Park is JazzFest.


Activities include visiting historic downtown West Bend or going for a ride in Wisconsin's first indoor go-kart track (Stockys). A theater, an ice skating rink, a striptease establishment,[37] a locally-owned 1950s styled custard stand (Toucans) and numerous coffee shops round out some of the entertainment options available. West Bend is also home of the Museum of Wisconsin Art, an art museum dedicated to showing the works of Wisconsin artists. The Old Courthouse and Old Jailhouse Museums and the new Regal Ware Museum attract visitors, as well.

Sister citiesEdit

Notable peopleEdit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  4. ^ "West Bend (city), Wisconsin". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Heming, Harry Hooper. 1899. Geschichte der Katolische Kirche in Wisconsin. Authentische Geschichte der Katholischen Kirche in Wisconsin von frühester Zeit bis zur Gegenwart. Milwaukee: Catholic Historical Publishing Co., p. 954.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ A Short History of West Bend, city website
  9. ^
  10. ^ Maziarkas' February 2009 Letters to West Bend Library
  11. ^ Handout, West Bend Community Library
  12. ^ Petition to West Bend Library Board
  13. ^ Four Tossed Off Library Board, West Bend Daily News, April 22, 2009
  14. ^ Id.
  15. ^ Dismissal of Wisconsin Board Members Draws National CensureAmerican Libraries May 4, 2009
  16. ^ Vote on Library Board Stands West Bend Daily News May 19, 2009
  17. ^ West Bend City Council Fails to Reinstate Library Board Members, School Library Journal, May 20, 2009
  18. ^ Library board rejects restrictions, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 2, 2009.
  19. ^ Id.
  20. ^ Library Board Will Stay the Course West Bend Daily News June 3, 2009
  21. ^ Library fight riles up city, leads to book-burning demand,, July 22, 2009
  22. ^ Library Book Riles Small Wisconsin Town,, June 19, 2009
  23. ^ A teen book burns at the stake,, June 16, 2009
  24. ^ "Average Weather for West Bend". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  25. ^ "Climate in West Bend, WI". Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  26. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  27. ^ "West Bend Municipal Code Section 2". Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  28. ^ West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. website
  29. ^ on West Bend Savings Bank
  30. ^ West Bend Company website
  31. ^ [1]
  32. ^ From Billfold Empire to Affordable Palace: Amity Leather Products Factory, West Bend, Wisconsin
  33. ^ Serigraph History
  34. ^ Gehl Company website
  35. ^ Eisenbahn State Trail
  36. ^ Quaas Creek Trail
  37. ^ [2]
  38. ^ [3]
  39. ^ [4]
  40. ^ [5]

External linksEdit

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