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Green Bay


  Green Bay may be the seat of Brown County, site to a major University of Wisconsin regional campus and the oldest settled community in the state, but to most of the country, Green Bay means one thing: the Green Bay Packers.  It is by far the smallest city to have an NFL football team, and Green Bay owes much of its prosperity to it.  Sometimes called “Titletown” because of the number of NFL titles brought home by the Packers, Green Bay is an affluent, peaceful community with one of the lowest crime rates in the country.


  Green Bay is located at the mouth of the Fox River where it empties into the Bay of Green Bay, which is formed in the cleft formed by Door County peninsula, the “thumb” of Wisconsin’s mitten-shape.  It is 112 miles north of Milwaukee.  The site that would later become Green Bay began life as a small trading post, established in 1634 by explorer Jean Nicolet; in 1671 a Jesuit Mission was set up and a fort was added in 1717.  The town was incorporated in 1754 and passed from French to British hands in 1761, at which time “Green Bay” became the preferred name for the town over its previous French name, “La Baie des Puants.”   In 1816, Green Bay acquired a United States Army outpost, Fort Howard, and in 1833 became home to Wisconsin’s first newspaper, the Green Bay Intelligencer.  After the fur trade declined following the War of 1812, Green Bay became the trade center for the lumber and agriculture industries. 

Fast Facts

City population:  102,313
Metro population:  226,778
Size:  54 square miles
Average temperature (January): 14.3 F
Average temperature (July): 69.7 F


  While no one would claim that Wisconsin is a racially diverse state, Green Bay’s demographics put undeniable numbers on this perception.  The city is an astonishing 91.1% white, and the black population is actually smaller than any of the Native American, Asian or Hispanic populations.  Green Bay, to most of its residents, still feels like a small town.  It’s one of the northernmost cities in the state; the upper half of Wisconsin is a virtual untamed wilderness, without cities of significant size, in contrast to the lower half, which is rolling farmland.  The setting is picturesque; nearby Door County is a very popular tourist destination renowned for its beauty, and the Green Bay area is a favorite destination for birdwatchers, hunters, and people just seeking nature in its purest form.

  It should be pointed out that in Green Bay, the Packers are not so much a beloved sports team as they are a religion.  For proof, one needs look only so far as the demand for tickets.  As of 2005, Lambeau Field has been sold out of season tickets for 45 straight years and 335 consecutive non-strike games, by far the longest streaks in the NFL.  The waiting list for a season ticket currently stands at over 67,000 names; the next longest list is the Washington Redskins’ at 51,000.  The rate of turnover is glacially slow; people have been known to bequeath their waiting-list berths to their descendents in their will.  Recent season ticket recipients have been on the list for 25-30 years.


  Without question, the number one attraction in Green Bay is Lambeau Field, the home of the Packers.  It is known throughout the NFL as an “old-school” football stadium, with a real grass field that’s open to the sky.  Green Bay citizens are proud of the “real” football that is played there – no sissy domed stadiums or Astroturf.  The frequently frigid temperatures there led Lambeau Field to be dubbed “the frozen tundra,” a tag that’s stuck to it throughout the years.  In 2003, a massive reconstruction was completed which added a museum and more up-to-date facilities, but which preserved the beloved field itself.  Lambeau Field is the longest continuously occupied stadium in the NFL, and common sports wisdom states that it represents the single greatest home-field advantage in the sport due to the zealousness of its fans and sometimes the temperatures.

  But that isn’t all there is to do in Green Bay.  The city is home to the National Railroad Museum, one of the oldest museums of its kind.  The museum has a large collection of rolling stock and historic engines in addition to a variety of artifacts and an archive.  There is also an extensive model railroad on site.  The Neville Public Museum is also a fun afternoon visit, dedicated to science, art and history.  The Green Bay Botanical garden covers 47 acres of gardens and garden architecture, and the nearby Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo houses a modest animal collection, but it’s just as attractive as a recreational area, with playgrounds, grills, and outdoor sports venues including volleyball courts and baseball diamonds.

Arts & Culture

  Associated with the University of Wisconsin, the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts is an all-purpose venue bringing a wide variety of performing arts to Green Bay while serving as a home for the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra.  The GBSO also sponsors a youth symphony.

Sports & Recreation

  It can be difficult to remember that Green Bay does have other sports teams besides the Packers.  The University of Wisconsin Green Bay Phoenixes play here, and the city is also home to an Arena Football League team, the appropriately named Green Bay Blizzard.  But as far as most citizens and visitors are concerned, it’s all about the Packers.  Begun in 1919, founder Curly Lambeau got the money to start the team from his employer, the Indian Packing Company, and the team was first and ever after known as the Packers.  They became a professional franchise in 1921.  The Packers have won more league championships than any other professional football team, including three Super Bowls.  In the 1960s, under legendary coach Vince Lombardi, the packers were overwhelmingly dominant, and the Super Bowl trophy was named after him.

  Nationwide, the Packers have been viewed as an “old-fashioned” football team that plays real football, which appeals to many fans in an era when money rules sports.  The Packers are the only publicly owned team in the league; anyone may purchase a share of team ownership.  This is also why the team has never moved from Green Bay, a city of just over a hundred thousand, when conventional wisdom states that a city must have at least a million people to support an NFL franchise.  Nevertheless, the team’s widespread popularity has kept it secure in its home and Green Bay upon the map.


  It wouldn’t be Wisconsin without beer, and Green Bay can claim its own local brew.  The Titletown Brewing Company serves up fresh and tasty brew in its attractive location.  For a finer dining experience there’s the Black and Tan or Andrew’s in the James Street Inn.  Nearby Sister Bay is home to some quaint Swedish and Danish eateries including Al Johnson’s.  Local steaks and, of course, cheese curds are a high point of Green Bay dining.


  Although Green Bay has a significant industrial base, the lynchpin of its economy is still the Green Bay Packers.  The Oneida tribe, which operates a number of casinos, is also a major financial contributor to the community.  Local industries include American Medical Security and Fort Howard Paper.  The median income is $38,820 for a Green Bay household and $48,678 for a family.  The city has low unemployment, low crime, and a significantly lower percentage of citizens who live below the poverty line than the national average.

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