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Alexis Laframboise, in 1785, coming from Michilimackinac (now in Michigan) settled a trading post; therefore, he is the first European descent resident of the Milwaukee region.
Early explorers called the Milwaukee River and surrounding lands various names: Melleorki, Milwacky, Mahn-a-waukie, Milwarck, and Milwaucki.
In competition with Juneau, Byron Kilbourn established Kilbourntown west of the Milwaukee River and made sure the streets running toward the river did not join with those on the east side.
This accounts for the large number of angled bridges that still exist in Milwaukee today. He claimed land to the south of the Milwaukee River, along with Juneautown, where he built a log house in 1834. The first large wave of settlement to the areas that would later become Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee began in 1835.
Further, Kilbourn distributed maps of the area which only showed Kilbourntown, implying Juneautown did not exist or the river's east side was uninhabited and thus undesirable. Early that year it became known Juneau and Kilbourn intended to lay out competing town-sites and by the years' end both had purchased their lands from the government and made their first sales.
There were perhaps 100 new settlers in this year, mostly from New England and other Eastern States.
Potawatomi language minwaking, Ojibwe language ominowakiing) or "Gathering place [by the water]" (cf.
Potawatomi language manwaking, Ojibwe language omaniwakiing). The first recorded inhabitants of the Milwaukee area are the Menominee, Fox, Mascouten, Sauk, Potawatomi, Ojibwe (all Algic/Algonquian peoples) and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) (a Siouan people) Native American tribes.
One story of Milwaukee's name says, The spelling "Milwaukie" lives on in Milwaukie, Oregon, named after the Wisconsin city in 1847, before the current spelling was universally accepted.
Large numbers of German immigrants helped increase the city's population during the 1840s, with Poles and other immigrants arriving in the following decades. The city is experiencing its largest construction boom since the 1960s.
Major new additions to the city in the past two decades include the Milwaukee Riverwalk, the Wisconsin Center, Miller Park, an expansion to the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Pier Wisconsin, as well as major renovations to the UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena.
Milwaukee is the main cultural and economic center of the Milwaukee metropolitan area.
It is also part of the larger Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha combined statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,026,243 in the 2010 census.
The first Europeans to pass through the area were French Catholic missionaries and fur traders.