Introduction to La Crosse, Wisconsin

La Crosse is situated along the Mississippi River in the western portion of Wisconsin in La Crosse County. The city consists of the north and south sections which are divided by a prominent marshland. Picturesque bluffs surround the city's prairie landscape. It's recognized as a college town and is also a prominent commercial center. Due to the three colleges the municipality is recognized as a technology and medical center.


In 1765 Lt. Zebulon Pike lead an expedition along the Mississippi for the United States. He gave the name "Prairie La Crosse" after watching Indians involved in a contest utilizing sticks which were similar to a bishop's crozier or la crosse in the French language. The first non-native settlement was established in 1841 as a fur trading post by Nathan Myrick. La Crosse was incorporated in 1856.

In the second half of the 19th century the municipality became one of the largest cities in the state. The lumber and the brewing industries were thriving. Various manufacturing businesses were established due to the nearby transportation provided by the Mississippi River and the railroad. La Crosse became a prominent education center with the establishment of three colleges between 1890 and 1912.

Entertainment and Culture

La Crosse serves as the cultural base for the Three Rivers area and includes a large number of art organizations. The Pump House Regional Arts Center features a variety of art exhibits as well as jazz, blues and folk music. The La Crosse Community Theater has received national acclaim. Residents and visitors enjoy the music performed by the local symphony and chamber chorale. The downtown has numerous restaurants, shops, upscale hotels and a very active nightlife which features a large number of bars and nightclubs. The La Crosse Center hosts a variety of events.


Skiing enthusiasts enjoy the Mount La Crosse ski area. Riverside Park provides an extensive walkway which offers scenic views. Numerous trails traverse through the bluffs and provide excellent views. Pettibone Park includes a beach and is situated on an island in the Mississippi River. Taking a riverboat ride is popular with visitors.

The nearby Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is a very popular site for bird watching and boating. The notable Goose Island Park and Campground is situated on a wooded island in the Mississippi River and provides excellent opportunities for fishing, canoeing, waterfowl hunting, hiking and camping. Great River & La Crosse River Bike Trails passes through prairie and forest areas. Archeological sites as well as an abundance of wildlife can be seen along the trails.


  • City Brewery provides tours of their facility
  • Hixon House was formerly the home of a lumber tycoon and features interesting architecture and original furnishings
  • Riverfest
  • Oktoberfest
  • Riverside Museum
  • Valley View Mall is a major shopping location
  • Mississippi Valley Archeology Center showcases a variety of artifacts including items from the Ice Age
  • Onalaska Museum features a wide variety of noteworthy exhibits
  • Bangor Commercial Historic District
  • Hussa Brewery Complex


The city is served by the La Crosse Municipal Airport.

Higher Education

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the Western Technical College and the Roman Catholic Viterbo University are located in the city.


Total Population 51,993
Male Share of the Population 48%
Female Share of the Population 52%
Senior Citizens 12.9%
Employed Population 16+ 28,082
Age of the Population 28


% of people married 31.5%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 31.1%
Median Earnings25+ $31,013
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $21,514
Median Earnings With High School Degree $23,801


Median Family Income $57,690
% Above Poverty Level 76.1%
% Below Poverty Level 23.9%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 15 minutes
% Working from Home 2.6%
% Walking and Biking to Work 12.3%
% Using Public Transportation 2.1%


People Living Alone 34.8%
Median Gross Rent $711
Median House Value $130,100


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 14.2%
US/American 0.1%
English 5.7%
Irish 13.7%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

La Crosse Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Large City 121 miles SE of St. Paul, Minnesota
County La Crosse
Metro Area La Crosse
Standard Zip Codes 54601, 54603
P.O. Box Zip Codes 54602
Phone Area Codes 608
Time Zone Central (-6 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 43.801
Longitude -91.239

La Crosse Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Distance 5.7 miles
Jan Temp 6 to 26 F
Apr Temp 37 to 60 F
Jul Temp 63 to 85 F
Oct Temp 40 to 61 F
Annual Precip 32.3 inches
Station GENOA DAM 8
Distance 16.2 miles
Jan Temp 8 to 25 F
Apr Temp 38 to 58 F
Jul Temp 64 to 83 F
Oct Temp 42 to 60 F
Annual Precip 33.3 inches
Distance 16.8 miles
Jan Temp 6 to 24 F
Apr Temp 37 to 58 F
Jul Temp 63 to 83 F
Oct Temp 40 to 60 F
Annual Precip 32.9 inches

Neighborhood and Nearby Area Names

According to the US Postal Service, La Crosse, its neighborhoods, and/or surrounding areas are also referred to as:

Barre Mills (54601)

Campbell (54601)

Lacrosse (54602, 54603)

Shelby (54601)

Note that not all alternate names are acceptable for use in US Post Office addresses.

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Chaseburg 275 $67,250
Coon Valley 689 $60,938
Holmen 9,432 $77,808
Onalaska 18,255 $70,288
Stoddard 824 $69,583

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

La Crosse Public Libraries

La Crosse Public Library
800 MAIN ST.
La Crosse, Wisconsin
(608) 789-7100

library logo

More Information for Librarians

La Crosse Hospitals

(Voluntary non-profit - Private)
(608) 782-7300
Emergency Service: Yes

(Voluntary non-profit - Church)
(608) 785-0940
Emergency Service: Yes

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La Crosse High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

Serves 1,400 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 16.2

Serves 1,009 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 14

A Non-traditional School
A Charter School.
Title I eligible, not participating.
Serves 68 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 22.7

304 6TH ST N
Serves 28 students.

300 4TH ST N
Serves 10 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 2.5

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