Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the 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 National Football League Green Bay Packers.
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; the Children's Museum; and the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay.
Jean Nicolet was commissioned by Samuel de Champlain, the founder of New France, to form a peaceful alliance with Indians in the western areas whose unrest was interfering with French fur trade. In addition, he was to explore in hopes of finding a shorter trade route to China through Canada. Nicolet and others had learned from other First Nations of the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) people, who identified as "People of the Sea", and believed they must reside on or near the Pacific Ocean. Champlain had also heard about natural 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. He is believed to have landed at Red Banks, near the site of the modern-day city of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Nicolet founded a small trading post here in 1634, originally named La Baye or La Baie des Puants (French for "the stinking Bay"). From this, Green Bay claims to be one of the oldest European permanent settlements in America, but a 1671 Jesuit mission was the first true European outpost. When Nicolet arrived in the Green Bay area, he encountered the Menominee, as this was their territory. He also met the Ho-Chunk, also known as the Winnebago, a people who spoke a Sioux language. Besides hunting and fishing, the Winnebago cultivated corn, bean, squash, and tobacco. Wild rice, which they had incorporated as a dietary staple, grew in abundance along the riverbanks. They regularly harvested and cooked this, along with a wide variety of nuts, berries, and edible roots of the woods.
The tribe had clearly distinguished gender roles. The men typically hunted and fished for food, and the women processed game and other foods in cooking. They also prepared the furs and made clothing from them, in addition to using other parts of animals for tools, cord, etc. Women also had a role in 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. He helped open up opportunities for trade and commerce with them before returning to Quebec.
A few months after Nicolet returned to Quebec, Champlain died. His death put a halt to other journeys to La Baie Verte (French for The Green Bay). Pere Claude Allouez sent Nicolas Perrot to La Baie. After this, the French avoided the area for some decades because of the intensity of First Nations and European conflicts in the east. In 1671, a Jesuit Mission was set up in the area. A fort was not added until 1717 and gradually associated development took place. The town was incorporated in 1754. As Great Britain took control of French areas during the Seven Years' War, known as the French and Indian War in some areas of North America, this town came under British control in 1761. The French ceded their North American lands East of the Mississippi River to the British following defeat in 1763.
The British gradually took over Wisconsin during the French and Indian War, taking control of Green Bay in 1761 and gaining control of all of Wisconsin in 1763. Like the French, the British were interested in little but the fur trade. One notable event in the fur trading industry in Wisconsin occurred in 1791, when two free African Americans set up a fur trading post among the Menominee at present day Marinette. The first permanent settlers, mostly French Canadians, some Anglo-New Englanders and a few African American freedmen, arrived in Wisconsin while it was under British control. Charles Michel de Langlade is generally recognized as the first settler, establishing a trading post at Green Bay in 1745, and moving there permanently in 1764. Settlement began at Prairie du Chien around 1781. The French residents at the trading post in what is now Green Bay, referred to the town as "La Bey", however British fur traders referred to it as "Green Bay", because the water and the shore assumed green tints in early spring. The old French title was gradually dropped, and the British name of "Green Bay" eventually stuck. The region coming under British rule had virtually no adverse effect on the French residents as the British needed the cooperation of the French fur traders and the French fur traders needed the goodwill of the British. During the French occupation of the region licenses for fur trading had been issued scarcely and only to select groups of traders, whereas the British, in an effort to make as much money as possible from the region, issued licenses for fur trading freely, both to British and French residents. The fur trade in what is now Wisconsin reached its height under British rule, and the first self-sustaining farms in the state were established as well. From 1763 to 1780, Green Bay was a prosperous community which produced its own foodstuff, built graceful cottages and held dances and festivities.
The Green Bay area was still under British control until the 1783 treaty formally ended the American Revolutionary War. Following the War of 1812, which in part was over disputes related to the border with Canada, the United States built Fort Howard on the Fox River in 1816 to protect its northern border. Doty, Whitney, Arndt, Baird and Martin were among the many British-American settlers whose numbers pushed French culture into the background. As British settlers in the area came to outnumber the French, they referred to the town as "Green Bay" (from the French: Baie Verte).
The Erie Canal was completed in 1825, linking New England with the Great Lakes. This led to the advance of Green Bay as a trading center. The end of the Black Hawk War in 1832 also gave impetus to settlement of the region. Most of the settlers were farmers from New England who began using the Erie Canal to pour into Wisconsin. As more and more New England settlers arrived, Green Bay developed into a trading center for this population.
Before Wisconsin became a state in 1848, its commerce was based on the fur trade, which became dominated by John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company. 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 started 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 Astoria (a company town of the American Fur Company), with Navarino, platted by Daniel Whitney.
Throughout the 1850s, word spread of America's cheap land and good soil, bringing in an influx of Belgian people, German, Scandinavian, Irish and Dutch immigrants, each adding to the culture. 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.