Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, located at the head of Green Bay, a sub-basin of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Fox River. It has an elevation of above sea level and is located north of Milwaukee. The population was 104,057 at the 2010 census. It is the third-largest city in the state of Wisconsin, after Milwaukee and Madison. It is also the third-largest city on the west shore of Lake Michigan, after Chicago and Milwaukee. Green Bay is home to the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League, making it by far the smallest metropolitan area in the USA to host a major professional sports franchise.
Green Bay is an industrial city with several meatpacking and paper plants, and a port on Green Bay, an arm of Lake Michigan that locals call the Bay of Green Bay, to avoid conflating it with the eponymous city. It is home to the National Railroad Museum; the Neville Public Museum, with exhibitions of art, history, and science; and the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay.
Jean Nicolet was commissioned by New France’s founder, Samuel de Champlain to form a peaceful alliance with Indians whose unrest was interfering with French trade and to possibly find a shorter trade route to China through Canada. Nicolet and others had learned of the existence of the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) people, who referred to themselves as "People of the Sea", and believed they must reside on or near the Pacific Ocean. Champlain had also heard about resources in the area, including fertile soil, forests, and animals. Nicolet set out on his journey for this new land shortly before winter in 1634. In what later became a French fur-trading route, he sailed up the Ottawa River, through Lake Nipissing and down the French River to Lake Huron, then through the straits of Michilimackinac into Lake Michigan and is believed to have landed at Red Banks, near the modern-day city of Green Bay.
A small trading post, originally named La Baye or La Baie des Puants (French for "the stinking Bay"), was established by Nicolet at this location in 1634, making Green Bay one of the oldest permanent settlements in America. When Nicolet arrived in the Green Bay area, the first group he encountered was the Menominee, as Green Bay was in their territory. There was also one that spoke a Sioux language, the Ho-Chunk, also known as the Winnebago. Besides hunting and fishing, the Winnebagos cultivated corn, bean, squash, and tobacco. Wild rice, a dietary staple, grew in abundance in the river and its tributaries, and was gathered along with nuts, berries, and edible roots of the woods." In this tribe there were distinguished and easily identified gender roles. The men typically hunted and fished for food, and the women cooked and prepared the furs of the dead animals for rugs, furniture and other uses around the house. Women were an important aspect of the political process, as no action could be taken without agreement of half of the women. Nicolet stayed with this tribe for about a year, becoming an ally, which helped open up opportunities for trade and commerce. He then returned to Quebec.
A few months after Nicolet returned from his quest, Champlain died. His death put a halt on journeys to the newly discovered land, La Baie Verte (French for The Green Bay).
Nicolas Perrot was the next journeyman sent to La Baie by Pere Claude Allouez. After this, the French avoided the area because of the intensity of Indian and European wars. In 1671 a Jesuit Mission was set up in the area. A fort was added in 1717. The town was incorporated in 1754, and was passed to British control in 1761.
The Green Bay area was still under British control until years after the end of the Revolutionary War, even after America had gained its independence. "Doty, Whitney, Arndt, Baird and Martin were among the American settlers who pushed French culture into the background following the American establishment of Fort Howard in 1816." As British settlers in the area came to outnumber the French, the name "Green Bay" (from the French: Baie Verte) became the more common name for the town. In 1783 the town became part of the United States of America. The United States Army built Fort Howard on the banks of the Fox River in 1816.
Before Wisconsin became a state in 1848, the majority of commerce had to do with fur trading. After statehood, there was a shift away from fur trading toward lumbering. "For a short time in 1860s and 1870s, iron smelting in charcoal kilns rivaled the timber industry while the port handled increasing amounts of fuel, feed, and lumber. Today's major local industry had its start in 1865 when the first paper mill was built."
Wisconsin's first newspaper, The Green Bay Intelligencer, was first published in 1833 by Albert Ellis and John V. Suydam. The borough of Green Bay was created in 1838 and is the main center of the current city. The borough combined the town of Astor (a company town of the American Fur Company), with Navarino, platted by Daniel Whitney. By 1850 the town had a population of 1,923. The town was incorporated as the city of Green Bay in 1854. The Green Bay Area Public School District was founded in 1856.
The 1850s brought much change to the city of Green Bay when other groups started immigrating to the area. That decade brought an influx of Belgian, German, Scandinavian, Irish and Dutch immigrants as word spread of America's cheap land and good soil. The greatest concentration of newcomers came from Belgium. They cleared the land to farm and build their homes.
The railroad arrived in the 1860s. Chicago and Northwestern Railroad companies were formed, which allowed people and products to travel all over the state, increasing business and trade opportunities. The area was able to grow and enrich itself with the use of the river and the plentiful timber resources. This led to the paper industry becoming the major employer in Green Bay, and opened up the port for international trade.
In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Green Bay to honor its tercentenary. By 1950 the city had a population of 52,735. In 1964, the Town of Preble was consolidated with the city of Green Bay.