History of Green Bay WI

Early History of Green Bay

The city of Green Bay is located at the delta of the Fox River, which empties into Lake Michigan.  The city is in Brown County. Descendants of the Menominee, Ho-Chunk, and other indigenous peoples lived in the region for at least 11,000 years, attracted to the area’s enriched soil and the plethora of fish, wild rice, and waterfowl.  

In 1633, a French explorer named Jean Nicolet approached Ho-Chunk near the Red Banks area, which became one of the earliest documented contacts between European and indigenous people in the state.   Then about 21 years later, a pair of fur traders (Radisson and Grosellieres) arrived in the area that is now Green Bay, only to be followed several years later by two noteworthy missionaries (Marquette and Allouez).  At this point, the French explorers named the region La Baye and it became the main point of entry into the country’s interior.   

The first permanent people to live in the Green Bay area was the Langlade family, arriving in 1746.  However, for the French, possession of the area was short-lived: the British ousted the French in 1762 taking control of the city fully until 1782.   Like the French, the British were ousted by the Americans who took control of the city as a result of winning the American Revolution.  

In 1816, the Americans built Fort Howard to protect the entrance into Wisconsin.  This fort sprang the community into rapid growth.  Belgian and Norwegian immigrants arrived in Green Bay in the 1850s.  These immigrants brought accomplished farmers and skilled laborers to the area, many of which have remained for generations.  

Then, in the 1880s, when the railroad growth replaced the steamboat as the primary form of transportation, the city became an industrial center for lumber milling, iron smelting, paper products, and cheese making.  Also, Green Bay became the first city in the state to have its own newspaper and USPS service.   The city has continued to grow into the 1900s but has not kept pace with the larger southern Wisconsin cities of Madison and Milwaukee.  

Of all its industries, Wisconsin is best known for cheese making.   So its origins can be traced to early European immigrants coming to Green Bay and dispersing throughout the state from there.  Wisconsin became known as the dairy state and is world renowned for its cheese production.  As a matter of fact, of the 12 master cheesemakers in the United States, all but one hail from Wisconsin.  

The Green Bay Packers - Uniquely Green Bay History

Today, Green Bay is best recognized for its National Football League franchise Green Bay Packers.  The organization was founded in 1920 and has recorded twelve NFL  league championships and four Super Bowl victories.  And, in keeping with the state’s dairy and cheese traditions, its fans are known around the world as Cheeseheads.   The fans have a triangle-shaped yellow cheese hat that they proudly where are all games.   These fans are also quite rabid – the season ticket waiting list for Green Bay Packers tickets is estimated to be over 40 years long.   And one more remarkable fact about Green Bay and the Packers franchise is that Green Bay, WI is by far the smallest US city to have an NFL team.