Madison, Wisconsin, the state capital and the seat of Dane County. It is in southern Wisconsin 76 miles (122 km) west of downtown Milwaukee. The University of Wisconsin has its main campus here. The central part of the city is built on an isthmus between Lake Mendota (on the northwest) and Lake Monona (on the southeast). Lakes Waubesa and Kegonsa to the southeast complete the group of Four Lakes, linked together by the Yahara River. Southwest of the isthmus is tiny Lake Wingra. Boating, fishing, swimming, and ice skating are popular sports.
Madison is the trade center for a dairying region. The city produces processed meats, dairy and bakery products, industrial machinery, batteries, and surgical equipment. A medical center, Madison has a number of hospitals, including a state psychiatric hospital, a Veterans Affairs medical center, and a University Hospital. The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory, a research center for testing and developing wood products, is located in Madison.
The 2,000-acre (810-hectare) campus of the University of Wisconsin extends for three miles (4.8 km) along Lake Mendota. The university arboretum, on Lake Wingra, contains Indian mounds about 1,000 years old. The stadium is on the site of Camp Randall, a Civil War post.
The state capitol, on the isthmus, is among the most impressive in the United States. The dome of the white granite building rises to 282 feet (86 m). Also noted are the State Historical Library and Museum, whose exhibits include a large collection of guns; and the church of the First Unitarian Society (completed in 1950), designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The city's park system includes Henry Vilas Park Zoo.
The area was once the home of the Winnebago Indians. The city, named for President Madison, was founded in 1836 as the capital of Wisconsin Territory. It was incorporated as a village in 1846 and as a city in 1856.