Racine County, a recent All-American city winner boasts beautiful blue skies that keep watch on 333 miles of rural and urban life. Campgrounds, beaches and downtown city life are all conveniently found within the stretch of Racine County’s borders. See what Racine has to offer you and your family.

Racine is a city in Racine County, Wisconsin, United States, located beside Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Root River. As of the 2006 census, the city had a total population of 79,592. It is the county seat of Racine County.

Racine County is known for its industrial heritage and it’s convenient Lake Michigan location between Chicago and Milwaukee. But, it has a rich agricultural history as well. Classic Wisconsin barns dot the landscape- all the way from the shadow of the Wind Point Lighthouse on the Lake Michigan shoreline to the quaint rustic roads in the western parts of the county.

Fifteen specially selected barns have been chosen for the first year of the Racine County Quilts on Barns project. The eight foot by eight foot quilt pattern blocks that adorn each barn is visible from the road. You will find a roadside sign with the name of the quilt block, the sponsor of that location and the local, non-profit group that painted it.

Racine History

On October 10, 1699, a fleet of eight canoes bearing a party of French explorers entered the mouth of Root River. These were the first known Europeans to visit what is now Racine County. Led by a man named Jonathan Paradise, they founded a French trading post in the area which eventually became a small settlement on Lake Michigan near where the Root River empties into Lake Michigan. “Racine” is French for “root.”

Root River Photo

In 1832, just after the Blackhawk War, the area surrounding Racine was settled by Yankees from upstate New York.

The mouth of the Root River, Racine, Wisconsin. Gilbert Knapp, a Lake boat captain in 1834, founded the settlement of Port Gilbert at the place where the Root River empties into Lake Michigan. The area was previously called Kipi Kawi and Chippecotton by the indigenous peoples, both names for the Root River. The name “Port Gilbert” was never really accepted, and in 1841 the community was incorporated as the village of Racine. After Wisconsin’s statehood was granted in 1848 the new legislature voted in August to incorporate Racine as a city.

Before the American Civil War, Racine was well known for its strong opposition to slavery. Many slaves escaping to freedom via the Underground Railroad passed through the city. In 1854 Joshua Glover, an escaped slave who had made a home in Racine, was arrested by federal marshals and taken to a jail in Milwaukee. One hundred men from Racine, and ultimately 5,000 Wisconsinites, rallied and broke into the jail to free him. He was helped to escape to Canada. Glover’s rescue gave rise to many legal complications and a great deal of litigation. This eventually led to the Wisconsin Supreme Court declaring the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 unconstitutional, and later, the Wisconsin State Legislature refusing to recognize the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Waves of immigrants, including Danes, Germans, and Czechs, began to settle in Racine between the Civil War and the First World War. African Americans started arriving in large numbers during World War I, as they did in other Midwestern industrial towns, and Mexicans started migrating to Racine from roughly 1925 onward.

Unitarians from New England initially dominated Racine’s religious life, as they did in other parts of the Upper Midwest before 1880.

Racine claims to be the largest North American settlement of Danes outside of Greenland. Racine is particularly known for its Danish pastries, especially kringle. Several bakeries have been featured on the Food Network. Some of the bakeries in Racine are: O&H and Lehman’s.


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