Though the Madison's 150th birthday celebrations wrapped up last year, the city has just put the finishing touches on one of the lasting reminders of its last century and a half. Pedestrians walking around Capitol Square, State Street, and several other locations around the historic heart of the city may have noticed small signs celebrating one aspect or another of the city's history. These are the Madison Sesquicentennial Markers, visual reminders of some of the region's most significant influences.
There are twelve historical markers in all. Eight are placed at points on or adjacent to the Square or State, while the other four are scattered about the east isthmus. They span ten thousand years, starting with a marker at West Washington and Carroll recalling the vastness of Glacial Lake Yahara and ending well within modern memory with a nod to the protests against the Vietnam War at Lisa Link Peace Park.
The others broadly note major elements in Madison's history, including neighborhood (James Doty's original city plats, the first African-American community in Old Marketplace), industrial (Hausmann's Capital Brewery, manufacturing on the east side), and architectural (Frank Lloyd Wright, the Farwell Octagon) development.
The markers were officially unveilled last Monday, July 2 by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and the Madison Sesquicentennial Commission. Ten days later, the city introduced an interactive map of the markers. Users can find the photos, graphics, and text of the geographical footnotes in an online form, and find the locations of all twelve markers, some of which are now tucked away in quiet residential neighborhoods.
More ponderings about this historical program can be found in Doug Moe's column in today's Cap Times. A PDF version of the map is also available in the related downloads at right.