Platteville is the largest city in Grant County in southwestern Wisconsin. The population was 11,224 at the 2010 census, growing 12% since the 2000 Census. Much of this growth is likely due to the enrollment increase of the University of Wisconsin–Platteville. It is the principal city of the Platteville Micropolitan Statistical area which has an estimated population of 49,681.
Platteville was a small farming and fur trading community along the Platte River, from which the town got its name. In the 1820s, lead ore or Galena was discovered in the area, a mining boom took the area by storm. The mining district encompassed a significant portion of southwest Wisconsin. More specifically, the counties of Grant, Iowa, Lafayette, and Jo Davies County (Illinois) played a major role in the mining of lead and zinc ore. The Galena, Illinois mining district, an area south of Platteville, had been known to many for years. Beginning in 1825, lead prices saw a dramatic boost and the Platteville economy flourished. The "grey gold" (a common nickname for lead ore) was brought development of businesses and schools. Platteville's landscape was shaped by the mining that helped build the town, and mineral holes abounded everywhere.
By the 1849s lead ore production was decreasing. However, the mining of zinc ore quickly filled the void for prospective work. Platteville was now an established town, complete with schools, an academy, newspaper, several churches, and a telegraph service as of November 1849."
During this time, a teachers' college and a mining college were founded. The Normal School was established on October 9, 1866. The Wisconsin Mining Trade School opened in January 1908. In 1959, these two colleges later merged to become Wisconsin State College and Institute of Technology. It was not until 1971 that the college became University of Wisconsin–Platteville, a school that specializes in engineering. Nowadays, UW Platteville is also considered the best criminal justice college in the mid-west.
From 1984 until 2001 the Chicago Bears football team held training camp on the campus of University of Wisconsin–Platteville. This resulted in a substantial infusion of money into the local economy each summer. That money stopped flowing after the Bears decided to hold training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois.
In 2004, the University of Wisconsin System gave its approval to the University of Wisconsin–Platteville's plan to expand the student enrollment from 5,000 to 7,500.
In 2004, U.S. Highway 151 was upgraded to a limited-access highway whose lanes run further south of Platteville, bypassing the city. Prior to the upgrade, the highway exits were closer to Platteville and Platteville has already made changes to adjust to the new southern US 151 bypass. A new hospital was built just north of US 151 and next to its off ramps. A Walmart Supercenter and a Menards have opened near the northern end of the US 151 bypass.