This article is part of the The Great American Reach Around series.
Our final stop on this US tour portion of the Great American Reach Around resides within the state due north of Chicago. Wisconsin is a largely rural state with scenic forested regions and a varied landscape. There is some heavy industry and a hell of a lot of dairy farms. The German influence prevelant in the Midwest is almost palpable in Wisconsin. People of German ancestry make up nearly half of Wisconsin's 5.5 million inhabitants. German-style buildings are not uncommon and don't be surprised if you see a sign that uses an umlaut.
Wisconsin's largest population center is the city of Milwaukee, which is located a scant 90 miles from downtown Chicago. It is essentially the second egg in the metro area omelet. Milwaukee's economy has not adapted as swiftly as Chicago's to changing times, but whereas Chicago endured a brutal realignment from its heavy industrial backbone, industry clings to life in Milwaukee. There is also a lot of beer coming out of the city, much of it actually pretty good.
Milwaukee is also home to two of the (currently) worst professional sports franchises in the United States: the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team and the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. If you're playing for a bastkeball team with a green deer as its logo then you're probably not going to win the championship.
Today we will end the American portion of our GARA feature with a brief look at Wisconsin's capital and second-largest city.
Madison is the ultimate "little big city" of the Midwest. There are a lot of these sub 500,000 population cities in the Midwest that try to walk the line between small town and big city, but most of them end up feeling like a gussied up suburb. Madison manages to feel like a giant small town with the advantages and comforts of a big city. It's a fairly cosmopolitan place where people still smile at you and say hello. I have also never seen more trees within the city limits of an urban area than I have in Madison. Central Park in New York City has fewer trees per square mile.
It is an extremely white city, even for Wisconsin, possibly indicating that Wisconsin wizards transformed the blacks into trees through some sort of ancient Germanic magic. Luckily, its proximity to both Milwaukee and Wisconsin lead its large population of college students to day trip to the dens of ethnic diversity nearby. It's an open-minded place. The beautiful architecture and scenic location on the shores of Lake Monona go a long way to help explain why Madison consistently ranks high in the top 100 cities to live in the United States.
Madison is the birthplace of the Progressive movement, which in turn gave birth to the Progressive Party. It was a liberal breakaway of the early 20th century Republican Party started by Robert M. La Follette. Think of him as a socialist version of Ross Perot. Needless to say, Madison is a hotbed of liberalism.
If you're looking for a nice and beautiful place to visit and you don't want to be overwhelmed by a big city like Chicago, you could do worse than Madison.
I hope you've enjoyed this first leg of our big tour of the United States. It has been an epic journey, but it's an epic country. Now it's time to take a look at what our French compatriots have to say about their nation.
Take a deep breath, relax, and get ready to get French as fuck.
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