Madison Marks 150 Year Anniversary of City Charter Taking Effect

March 8, 2006

Cieslewicz, Sesquicentennial Commission Look Ahead to April Festivities.

Madison – Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and members of the Sesquicentennial Commission today marked the 150th anniversary of the City of Madison’s charter taking effect. The charter was approved by the Wisconsin Assembly on March 5, 1856 and took effect two days later, on March 7, 1856.

Today also marks the one-month countdown to the city’s sesquicentennial festivities, set for April 7-9 of this year. The first city government was formed on April 7, 1856, when the Jairus Fairchild, the first mayor, took office along with 12 aldermen.

“The City of Madison has a long and rich history, and this year is going to be a unique opportunity for citizens to learn more about their community,” said Cieslewicz. “As we seek to move forward and make Madison a stronger community for all of our residents, it is important that we understand our history. By understanding our history, we can better plan for our future.”

The city charter set out the basic government structures that turned the Village of Madison into a full-fledged city government. The charter is very much a reflection of the priorities and issues of its time. For instance, in the section listing areas of city regulation the very first issue raised is the regulation of “common showmen, or shows of any kind, or the exhibition of caravans, circuses or theatrical performances, billiard tables and bowling saloons”. Other areas of concern written into the charter included cards, riots, the cleanliness of soap factories, slaughter houses and horse racing.

Cieslewicz and members of the Sesquicentennial Commission also previewed next month’s celebration events for the city. From April 7 – 9, the city will hold a number of events to officially mark Madison’s 150th anniversary:

o On April 7, there will be a noontime ceremony including local leaders, descendents of Madison’s first mayor, the local Boy Scouts who designed Madison’s flag decades ago, and others.
o Madisonians will be encouraged to go out into the community on April 8, and take advantage of a variety of walking tours and other ways to learn more about Madison’s neighborhoods and history.
o The festivities culminate on April 9, with a free birthday celebration all afternoon at Monona Terrace. There will be live music, art, community groups and free sheet cake for everyone.

Contact:
  • George Twigg, (608) 266-4611