Eau Claire: Historical Developments

Brief Overview
By 1855 about100 Europeans lived in Eau Claire. With the rise of lumbering, the city grew rapidly to 17,415 by 1890; but only 102 people were added in the next decade! The lumber era was over and so was the growth of the city. During the 1910-20s manufacturing gradually increased. By 1918 about 45 companies-- including the Gillette Safety Tire Company -- were established. Eau Claire's economy, like other small towns, did not suffer as much as the national economy during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The suburbanization of the United States after World War II was experienced in the city as else where in the country. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the local economy was being transformed once again, from heavy manufacturing to service industries, particularly to a regional medical center and some computer-related industries. An excellent assortment of historical photos from the Chippewa Valley are available.

Detailed History
You can study the historical developments of Eau Claire in different ways:
1) Examine three-related graphs on population change and housing construction:
* growth of Eau Claire's population
* changes in Eau Claire's population and age of housing
* changes in Eau Claire's and U.S. housing changes
2) Select the decade on the diagram below for detailed historical information on Eau Claire.
3) Select a topic: elites, manufacturing, stores, schools, transportation, street patterns, etc.
4) Tour the Randall Park neighborhood, one of three designated historic districts in Eau Claire.
5) Local web sites that deal with historical materials are available at the Eau Claire Public Library.

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Created by Ingolf Vogeler on 9 June 1997; last revised 17 December 2002.