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The Madison Isthmus is an isthmus in Madison, Wisconsin between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. It is located between Madison’s Northeast side to the east and the University of Wisconsin campus to the west. The southwestern portion of the isthmus is home to the Wisconsin State Capitol, State Street, and Madison’s main business and financial districts. To find additional statistics on the isthmus neighborhoods visit:

Isthmus 1

There are 6 neighborhoods within the Isthmus of Madison:

Isthmus 2

Marquette Neighborhood, located on the near east side, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Madison. Abundant in nineteenth century architectural styles: Greek Rivival, Italianate, Late Picturesque to Arts & Crafts Bungalows makes this neighborhood one of the few with intact buildings of Madison’s early history. Two historic districts, Third Lake Ridge Historic District and Marquette Bungalow Historic District, are in place to preserve the architectural craftsmanship of the buildings and places. If one is looking for more modern living quarters, there also are plenty of condos or apartments that have been built or rehabbed. Bohemian. Hippie. Green. These are some of the names that have been coined for Willy (Williamson) Street area. Locally owned shops, restaurants, and entertainment establishments line the street. Greater Williamson Area Business Association, Common Wealth Development Corporation, and others have been instrumental in keeping the street vibrant. The Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA), established in May 1968, has been the force behind citizen involvement and participation. MNA brings discussion on issues affecting the neighborhood to residents and promotes neighborhood family fun activities such as the Chili Dinner (March), Waterfront Festival (June), La Fete de Marquette (July), Orton Park Festival (August), and Willy Street Fair (September). The Marquette Neighborhood Association is a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations to MNA are tax deductible.

Sherman Terrace, a small condominium community, is located on the near east side of Madison. Lake Mendota and Yahara River are a short 1/2-block walk away. Tenney Park offers public access to these water bodies: swimming on at Tenney Park in the summer, paddling along Yahara River, and ice skating at Tenney Lagoon in the winter. Tenney Park also hosts other recreational amenities: soccer fields, tennis courts, and walking paths. A new shelter, with a historic look, was built in the Summer of 2009. Thirty-six residential buildings are located on the wooded 9-acre site. The brick, three-story units are modestly priced making this one of the most affordable housing choices on the trendy east side. The historic feel of the buildings (built in 1949) fit into the older, architecturally interesting neighborhood.

The Capitol Neighborhoods, Inc. (CNI) is an association of downtown neighborhood Districts: Bassett, Mifflin West, First Settlement, Mansion Hill, and James Madison Park. CNI promotes a democratic process to give an effective voice to all residents with input from friends of CNI who care about preserving and developing a more livable downtown for Madison. Capitol Neighborhoods consists of an area marked by Lake Monona on the southeast, Proud fit Street to Regent St. to Park Street to Lake Mendota, extending along the lakeshore to James Madison Park. Hence, it extends down Blair Street to Lake Monona and back to Proud fit Street. The area comprises the State Capitol and the oldest residential neighborhoods of Madison.

Monona Bay Neighborhood lies along the shores of Monona Bay, a . A bike path connects the neighborhood to Brittingham Boat House to Brittingham Park and Shelter. Monona Bay Neighborhood offers single-family and multifamily living that is close to the Downtown. Monona Bay Neighborhood Association (MBNA) is a group of residents, business representatives, and other interested citizens that devote their time and energy to improve and enhance a well-defined, geographic area that we and others live. The MBNA neighborhood association meeting, like the town meeting from earlier years, is a place to meet neighbors, exchange ideas, prioritize projects, propose solutions, and implement plans for our neighborhood. We’re concerned with issues that affect the quality of life in the community. This includes issues such as zoning regulations or traffic improvements as well as events that strengthen neighborhoods. Sponsoring neighborhood festivals, block parties, crime prevention activities and upgrading neighborhood parks are important projects that MBNA participates in.

The Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood, located on Madison’s east isthmus, offers the charm and vitality that only a traditional city neighborhood can provide. Residents can work, shop, and play all within a short walk from any home in this historic, central city location. It is a neighborhood that strives to maintain a diverse population, a variety of housing opportunities, and a high quality of living for all of its residents. It doesn’t matter if you are a child, a teenager, a college student, a young single, a family just starting out or with kids at East High, or a senior citizen ¬ Tenney-Lapham is a great place to live. Most of the many fine homes in the largely residential Tenney-Lapham neighborhood date from the turn of the century. Local factors behind the growth in this area included the creation of Tenney Park between 1899 and 1910 and the growth of the Fuller and Johnson Company at the corner of East Washington Avenue and North Dickinson Street. These resulted in a rich legacy of both small and large homes, including those found in the Sherman Avenue Historic District. Accessibility to Lake Mendota and the Yahara River for water activities and the linkage to the bike system provides a wide range of recreational and transportation opportunities. Three city parks, James Madison, Reynolds and Tenney, along with the Yahara River Parkway, provide a variety of resources, such as beaches, sailboard and boat rentals, an ice skating rink, volleyball and tennis courts. The economic heart of the neighborhood is the East Johnson Business District, where people can shop for groceries, do their laundry, get a haircut, buy flowers, antiques, framing, wines and spirits, and more.

Langdon Street acts as the spine of this architecturally rich area adjacent to the university campus. Originally, this neighborhood was dominated by the large Victorian period homes of university faculty members and Madison’s elite. As the university expanded around the turn of the century, however, many of the older buildings gave way to the fine Period Revival style fraternity and sorority houses for which this area is now best known. The Langdon Street National Register Historic District was established to provide tax incentives to property-owners in their efforts to preserve and rehab existing historic housing stock. The national historic district is roughly bounded by Lake Mendota on the north, Wisconsin Avenue on the east, rear yards of properties on the south side of Langdon Street on the south, and North Lake Street on the west. State-Langdon Neighborhood Association first formed in 1979. After several years of inactivity, it reactivated in 2008. The neighborhood association represents the predominately student population living within the area. This is one central city neighborhood that has redevelopment pressures.

The two main bodies of water Bordering the Isthmus:

Lake Mendota borders the Madison Isthmus to the Northwest and is the northernmost and largest of the four lakes in Madison, Wisconsin.[1] The lake borders Madison on the north, east and south, Middleton on the west, Shorewood Hills on the southwest, Maple Bluff on the northeast, and Westport on the northwest.

Windsurfer on the lake

Windsurfer on the lake

The shorelines of Lakes Mendota and Monona define the isthmus upon which Madison was built, with the lakes connected by the Yahara River. The Wisconsin State Capitol building and much of the state government is located in this narrow stretch of land.
The University of Wisconsin–Madison campus is situated along the southern shore of Lake Mendota. In the early 20th century, Chancey Juday and Edward A. Birge founded an influential school oflimnology there as a component of the university.[2] The university’s Hoofer Sailing Club operates atMemorial Union.
Much of the shore of Lake Mendota is lined with expensive luxury homes and condominiums. The banks of the lake also contain protected natural areas and parks, including James Madison Park, as well as university housing, the UW Student Union and a handful of hotels and restaurants. Summers bring boaters out in force, especially on the weekends, though Lake Mendota is rarely crowded. There are several boat launching sites and two major marinasserving the lake. On a typical summer day, the lake is filled with those engaging in water sports, including fishing, water-skiing,wakeboarding, tubing, canoeing, wind-surfing, kayaking, and sailing.[3][4] With an average freeze date of December 20, Lake Mendota is used in the winter by sports enthusiasts for ice-boating, ice-skating, ice fishing, cross country skiing, ice hockey and snowkiting

Lake Monona is on the eastern side of the Madison Isthmus and is a freshwater drainage lake in Dane County, Wisconsin surrounded on three sides by the city of Madison, Wisconsinand on the south side by the city of Monona, Wisconsin. It is the second-largest of a chain of four lakes along the Yahara River (also including Mendota, Kegonsa, and Waubesa) in the area and forms the south shore of the isthmus that forms downtown Madison. The name ‘Monona’ is a Chippewa word believed to mean ‘beautiful’, although the lake was originally named by the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) ‘Tchee-ho-bo-kee-xa-te-la’ or ‘Teepee Lake’.

Lake Monona rests at 43°4′9″N 89°21′34″W. It measures 3,274 acres (13.2 km²), has a mean depth of 27 ft (8 m) and a maximum depth of 64 ft (20 m). Its volume is approximately 28 billion US gallons (110,000,000 m³) and it has 13 miles (21 km) of shoreline, about 40% of which is publicly owned. The elevation of the lake is 845′, regulated by locks at the mouth of the Yahara River at Lake Mendota. Monona is fed by three tributaries; The Yahara River (from Lake Mendota), Starkweather Creek, and Murphy Creek. Lake Monona is typically frozen for 107 days a year, give or take 10 days depending on the season. Access to the lake is by boat ramp.

View of Lake Monona from Monona Terrace

View of Lake Monona from Monona Terrace

Monona is home to many species of fish and is a popular lake for fishing. Sport fish species include bluegill, lake sturgeon,largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskellunge (muskie), northern pike, and walleye.

26-year-old soul singer Otis Redding died when his plane crashed in Lake Monona on December 10, 1967 during a storm en route to a concert in Madison. Several crew members and all but two members of the Bar-Kays (then Otis’s backup band) on the plane also died.