Appendix 6: History of Manitowoc, Manitowoc Co., Wisconsin
Purported to mean dwelling of the great spirit, Manitowoc derived its name from either the Anishinaabe language word manidoowaak[wag), meaning spiritspawn(s), or manidoowaak(oog), meaning spirit-wood(s) . In 1838, an act of the Territorial Legislature separated Manitowoc County from Brown County, keeping the native name for the region.
In 1820, Matthew Stanley and his wife were the first to settle in the area. In 1835, President Andrew Jackson authorized land sales for the region, drawing the interest of land speculators. William Jones and Louis Fizette were the two first recorded buyers on August 3, 1835, with the majority of the land being procured by the Chicago firm Jones, King, & Co. Benjamin Jones, brother of William, took the Wisconsin property as his share and is considered the founder of Manitowoc. Early immigrant groups included Germans, Norwegians, British, Irish, and Canadians. The first school in Manitowoc was held in the Jones warehouse, with S. M. Peake instructing the twelve children of the community. The first religious organization in the county, St. James' Episcopal Church, first met in 1841. Manitowoc was chartered as a village on March 6, 1851 and on March 12, 1870 was incorporated as a city.
In 1847, Joseph Edwards built the first schooner in the area, the Citizen, a modest precursor to the shipbuilding industry that produced schooners and clippers used for fishing and trading in the Great Lakes and beyond the St. Lawrence River. In addition, landing craft, tankers and submarines became the local contributions to U.S. efforts in World War II.
On September 5, 1962, a 20-pound (9.1 kg) piece of the seven-ton Sputnik 4 crashed on North 8th Street. Sputnik 4 was a USSR satellite, part of the Sputnik program and a test-flight of the Vostok spacecraft that would be used for the first human spaceflight. It was launched on May 15, 1960. A bug in the guidance system had pointed the capsule in the wrong direction, so instead of dropping into the atmosphere the satellite moved into a higher orbit. It re-entered the atmosphere on or about September 5, 1962. A cast was made from the original piece before the Soviets claimed it, and the cast was displayed at the Rahr West Art Museum. A customer in a nearby art gallery jokingly suggested that the city should hold a festival to celebrate the crash. The city held the first Sputnikfest in 2008, which was organized by the head of both museums.
Manitowoc is home to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, and is one endpoint of the ferry route of the SS Badger, which connects U.S. Route 10 to Ludington, Michigan. Since the late 1990s, several new shopping centers have opened in the city, mostly on the southwest side of the city along Interstate 43, including the new Harbor Town Center shopping complex. The downtown area has also seen a resurgence, with several new restaurants opening, and the recent announcement of new $100,000+ condominiums on the Manitowoc River, along with a completion of the river-walk trail. The bulk of the redevelopment in the city has been undertaken by the public/private partnership the Manitowoc County Economic Development Corporation.
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