Brookfield is a city located in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, United States in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. It had a population of 41,464 at the 2020 census. Brookfield is the third-largest city in Waukesha County. The city is adjacent to the Town of Brookfield.
Brookfield is west of Milwaukee in Waukesha County in an area originally inhabited by Potawatomi Indians. The first white settler, William Howe, arrived in 1820 with a Presidential Land Grant giving him title to the area. Soon after, Robert Curren bought a claim in 1836 and established a tavern and inn.
In May 1838, Jacques View Jr., with a large party of white settlers, led the local Potawatomi west. Caroline Quiner, the mother of Laura Ingalls Wilder, was born in a cabin in 1839 in what is now the City of Brookfield, near the current intersection of Brookfield Road and Davidson Road. By 1839, the population needed a school house, as the 1840 census showed a population of 148. In these 1840s, George Gebhardt started trading with the surrounding Potawatomi and Menominee neighbors. 1843 is when the first church was built, by the Irish Catholic congregation, named St. Dominic. 1848 was when telegraph lines were laid through Brookfield, towards Waukesha. Communication was made easier due to this. In 1849, cholera reached Brookfield, and one Laura Grover recalls, "The death-like stillness was appalling; nothing was seen but the death carts rolling round the streets gathering the recent dead... I believe there were fifty deaths from cholera that day." The same year, 64 Brookfield residents voted in favor of giving suffrage to black residents, and 0 the other way. In 1850, cholera again went through Brookfield, and according to one Earl Thayer, "The cholera returned... more terrible than the year before. People literally died walking along the streets. Official reports put the toll at over 300."
In 1850, the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad (now the Canadian Pacific Rail) built a railroad through the town, which in 1853 erected a depot, forming the Brookfield Junction. In the year 1850, the Town of Brookfield had 1,944 inhabitants and in land area covered 36 square miles. The town slowly grew over following years, with the economy being mostly agricultural, with Brookfield Junction serving as a commercial center for the surrounding farms. The Civil War had little effect on this town, despite the severe losses of members serving from the state. "More than 12,000 died: 3,802 were killed in action or died of wounds and 8,499 died from disease, exposure, and other causes." In 1867, a second rail depot was constructed, which still stands.
In the 1900s, Brookfield gained a new reputation. Waukesha County was called Cow County, U.S.A., as according to advertisers, they claimed that in the county there were more cows than people. This was, of course, fantastical, although there were cows. This did help cement Wisconsin's dairy reputation. WWI, one of the biggest wars in history, also didn't have too much of an effect on Brookfield and how we know it today. The so-called Spanish flu, however, did kill many people, but not as many as cholera had in the past. On May 31, 1914, a tornado hit, devastating the farmers and the rural area.
This quiet, rural atmosphere attracted one notorious resident, Al Capone, as he established an area to live and a distillery on Brookfield Road. In 1928, the first suburban development, Kinsey's Garvendale, a residential subdivision, was created. Early subdivisions grew slowly due to the Great Depression hitting a year later, affecting its growth and killing demand.
Development in Brookfield began to increase after the Second World War. Suburban development was encouraged by a scarcity of urban area housing, the baby boom, and government sponsored building programs, which further grew the town, and after several annexations of neighboring communities, an incorporation drive started. The City of Brookfield was incorporated from the town of Brookfield, a portion of which still survives along the city's western edge, on August 14, 1954. The first mayor was Franklin Wirth, and he oversaw the new city, which at the time had a population of 7,900 and covered an area of 17.5 square miles. Much of the land was still in agricultural use, so the city's founders encouraged orderly development of office and industrial areas to cause the community to function with strong industrial and commercial base.
Today, Brookfield covers 27.66 square miles, and numbers 37,920 residents.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.59 square miles (71.46 km), of which 27.29 square miles (70.68 km2) is land and 0.367 square miles (0.95 km) is water. The sub-continental divide passes through Brookfield; on the eastern side of this divide, easily marked by the crest at Calhoun Road and Capitol Drive, water flows to Lake Michigan on its way to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence; on the western side of this divide, water flows to the Fox River of Illinois and Wisconsin on its way to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.
There is a heron rookery on a site northwest of Capitol Drive and Brookfield Road.
The Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as humid continental (Dfa).
As of the census of 2010, there were 37,920 people, 14,576 households, and 10,999 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,399.8 inhabitants per square mile (540.5/km2). There were 15,317 housing units at an average density of 565.4 per square mile (218.3/km). The racial makeup of the city was 90.0% White, 1.2% African American, 0.2% Native American, 6.7% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.2% of the population.
There were 14,576 households, of which 31.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.4% were married couples living together, 5.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 24.5% were non-families. 21.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.01.
The median age in the city was 46.7 years. 23.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 18.5% were from 25 to 44; 33% were from 45 to 64; and 19.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.5% male and 51.5% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 38,649 people, 13,891 households, and 11,223 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,421.1 people per square mile (548.6/km2). There were 14,208 housing units at an average density of 522.4 per square mile (201.7/km). The racial makeup of the city was 94.20 percent White, 3.83 percent Asian, 0.83 percent Black or African American, 0.09 percent Native American, 0.02 percent Pacific Islander, 0.23 percent from other races, and 0.81 percent from two or more races. 1.17 percent of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 13,891 households, out of which 36.1 percent had children under age 18 living with them, 73.1 percent were married couples living together, 5.5 percent had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.2 percent were non-families. 16.7 percent of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.0 percent had someone living alone who was 65 years old or older. The average household size was 2.74 people and the average family size was 3.09 people.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 26.8 percent under age 18, 4.6 percent from 18 years old to 24 years old, 23.2 percent from 25 years old to 44 years old, 27.8 percent from 45 years old to 64 years old, and 17.6 percent who were 65 years old or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $76,225, and the median income for a family was $83,691. Males had a median income of $62,351 versus $37,589 for females. The per capita income for the city was $37,292. 2.2 percent of the population and 1.4 percent of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 2.4 percent of those under age 18 and 3.4 percent of those 65 years old and older were living below the poverty line.
Fiserv is headquartered in Brookfield. The firm provides financial services technology (software, for the most part) for banks, thrifts, credit unions, securities broker dealers, leasing and finance companies, and retailers, among others. Its 2016 revenue was approximately $5.5 billion.
Fedex's SmartPost business unit is also headquartered in Brookfield.
Capitol Airport (02C) serves the city and surrounding communities.
Brookfield has a mayor–council government. The mayor is elected to a four-year term. On April 1, 2014, incumbent mayor Steve Ponto again defeated former two-term Mayor Jeff Speaker by a vote of 4,512 to 2,539. On April 3, 2018, incumbent mayor Steve Ponto ran unopposed for mayor.
Brookfield is represented by Scott Fitzgerald (R) in the United States House of Representatives, and by Ron Johnson (R) and Tammy Baldwin (D) in the United States Senate. Brookfield is represented by Dale Kooyenga (R) in the Wisconsin State Senate and Sara Rodriguez (D) and Robyn Beckley Vining (D) in the Wisconsin State Assembly.
The Common Council is composed of 14 aldermen, with two representing each of seven districts. They serve four-year terms, with one member from each district up for election every other year. The aldermen set policy and have extensive financial control, but are not engaged in daily operational management.
The Elmbrook School District serves residents of Brookfield excluding a small section of southwest Brookfield, which is in the Waukesha School District. Private schools include St. Dominic Catholic School, St. John Vianney Catholic Church, St. Luke Catholic School, St. Joseph's Catholic School, Heritage Christian School, Brookfield Christian School, and Brookfield Academy. Private high schools located within the Brookfield city limits include Brookfield Academy and Heritage Christian School, West Suburban Christian Academy.
Brookfield offers shopping, fine dining, outdoor golf and parks. Brookfield's concert hall is the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts located in Mitchell Park. Brookfield's main beach is located at Fox Brook Park where hiking in natural preserves, sailing, biking and golfing are also available.
Brookfield Square is the main shopping mall for the city and also serves as a commercial anchor to the Bluemound Road shopping district serving the western suburbs of Milwaukee and Waukesha County. Brookfield has off-road bike paths throughout the city.
Brookfield Days is held annually in June, at Wirth Park supported by the local community. A farmer's market runs on weekends in summer months at the Brookfield City Hall.
The Elmbrook Historical Society hosts several events annually celebrating the lives of early Brookfield settlers, including Caroline Ingalls, who was born in the Brookfield area. The city is often visited by fans of her daughter, Laura, author of the Little House on the Prairie book series.
Brookfield has one sister city:
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