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A Closer Look

City of Janesville, Wisconsin

Established in 1853

Story by Teresa Nguyen

August, 2020

In 1836,  Mr. Henry F. Janes arrived and staked a claim on the east bank of the Rock River near the present-day intersection of Main and Milwaukee streets. 

Author's note: This is not meant to be a comprehensive, all inclusive history of Janesville. This can't possibly cover it all! However, I do hope you enjoy and appreciate this well-researched, factual and fascinating timeline of our wonderful Janesville community! ~ Tess
The Northwest Territory Explored
1800 - 1850
1804 - In the Treaty of St. Louis, a group of Sauk and Meskwaki leaders sold their lands east of the Mississippi, from western/central Illinois northward into Wisconsin. But they discovered years later that they were tricked, through language in the treaty, into giving away more area than they believed they had agreed upon. The native leaders also did not have the authorization by their tribal councils to cede the lands, so the treaty became very controversial and led to the initial 1831 conflicts of the Black Hawk war.
1825 - The Treaty of Prairie du Chien established a treaty of peace among the tribes and demarcated boundaries between settlers and the tribes.

1830 - Though the French fur traders had traveled around the area and New England settlers began to trickle in, the Native tribes still lived peacefully in this Rock River valley territory, which included the Menominee, Ojibwe (Chippewa), Potawatomi, and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago). They had been here for centuries, dating back almost 10,000 years.

The United States Indian Removal Act of 1830 forced the Native American peoples to be uprooted, forced out of their homelands to make room for the new settlers. Many tribes east of the Mississippi were forced onto reservations out in the wild plains, far from the woodland life and culture they knew.
The Black Hawk War
1832 - The Black Hawk war was led by Sauk leader, Chief Black Hawk, against the white settlers in the disputed lands from the Quad City area of Illinois up through the Rock River Valley into central Wisconsin and over to the Mississippi. Black Hawk and his followers became known as the "British Band" because they sometimes flew a British flag to defy claims of U.S. sovereignty.

The last major battle occurred at Wisconsin Heights, what is now Sauk City. Outnumbered and sustaining heavy casualties, Black Hawk's warriors managed to delay the combined government forces long enough to allow the majority of the Sauk and Fox civilians in the group to escape across the Wisconsin River. 

The reprieve was temporary. The U.S. militia finally caught up with the fleeing band and massacred the escaping native tribes at the mouth of the Bad Axe River where it meets the Mississippi. Of the 400–500 Sauk and Fox at Bad Axe, most were killed at the scene, others escaped across the river into enemy Sioux territory.
First Settlers
1835 - First settlers made their way up the Rock River to what was known as “The Big Rock” (Monterey Rock). Mr. John Inman, George Follmer, Joshua Holmes, and William Holmes, Jr. built a crude log cabin on the south bank of the Rock River, where it runs east and west, not far from the Center Avenue bridge.
Native lands sold in the Treaty of St. Louis
Mr. Janes, A Post Office and a Newspaper
1836 - Mr. Henry Fletcher Janes arrived to the settlement in January and staked a claim on the east bank of the Rock River near the present-day intersection of Main and Milwaukee streets. 
1837 - There were just five buildings in Janesville: two log houses and three frame houses. The settlement's first hotel was the Janesville Stage House, erected on South Main Street. 

Henry’s wife, Keziah A. (Talbot) Janes, who he married in 1827 in Indiana, arrived. Together, Henry and his wife operated a log cabin boarding house and a ferry, taking travelers across the Rock River to the west side. At that time, the river was about 300 feet wide. They also operated Janesville’s first post office. The US Postmaster General, Amass Kindle, granted the office and appointed Janes as postmaster, naming the office "Janesville".
Henry and Keziah had eight children. Their 5th child, Jasper Newton, was the only one born in Janesville.
1838 - The first store building was constructed near the hotel. First used as a carpenter's shop, Lappin and Ward's general store was the first store in the new settlement.
1839 - Henry Janes and his growing family left ‘crowded’ Janesville and headed west again. Our population was at 300. He traveled as far as the Pacific Ocean, settling in California where he died in 1883.

1843 - A school was built (where The Armory stands now), which served, technically, as the first high school. Its purpose was to continue education beyond the elementary level. Known as Janesville Collegiate Institute, it was renamed Janesville Free Academy after being purchased by the city in 1855.

The first dam was built in 1844 to help provide water power along the Rock River. This gave new opportunity for the construction of woolen, grist, flour, lumber and cotton mills.
Henry and Keziah Janes

1842 - The first bridge was built at Milwaukee Street, where Janes' ferry had crossed. Originally a toll bridge, a group of people decided to protest and finally built a free bridge, which became the Court Street bridge.

1845 - The city’s oldest business, Janesville’s first newspaper, went into print. It was called the Janesville Gazette, later the Janesville Daily Gazette and eventually, The Gazette. It was established as a weekly newspaper with 300 subscribers. 

Howard F. Bliss acquired the company in 1883 and passed it to his son Harry H. Bliss in 1919. Harry's sons Sidney H. and Robert W. succeeded their father in 1937. Skip Bliss acquired the company as publisher and president in 1992. Adams Publishing Group most recently acquired the newspaper in 2019.

1848 - Formed from the Wisconsin Territory, the State of Wisconsin was formerly ratified on May 29th.
Janesville Grows in The Victorian Era
1850 - 1900
1850 - 1900
1851 - Janesville was the site of the first Wisconsin State Fair in 1851, attended by approximately 10,000 people!

Built in the 1851, The Peter Myers Pork Packing Plant became a successful industry into the 1880s.

1853 - Janesville was officially incorporated as a city. The population had grown to 3,000.

Most of the city’s early settlers were transplants from upstate New York. Land surveys encouraged pioneers to settle in this area of fertile farmland and woodlands, where many early Rock County settlers established farms, cultivating wheat and other grains.

During the 1850’s and early 1860’s, many of Janesville’s new families were active in the abolitionist and women's rights movements. 
The home of William M. Tallman, built in 1857
Photo by Teresa Nguyen
More businesses, industry and manufacturing grew along the river in our budding community. One such business, The Doty Manufacturing company, began manufacturing agricultural implements. Later, around 1865, the business expanded to manufacture The Doty washing machine and was very successful through the mid-1870s.
1855 - The City of Janesville School District was created, with all the public schools in the city under the direction of a single School  Board. 
A Visit from Abe
1859 - Abraham Lincoln, a pre-presidential candidate, traveled by train from the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee to Beloit to speak. Mr. William M. Tallman, a lawyer and an active abolitionist of Janesville, was in the audience. Tallman persuaded Mr. Lincoln to come to Janesville to speak and transported Mr. Lincoln to Janesville by carriage. He spent the evening as the guest of the Tallman family, then joined them the next morning for worship at First Congregational UCC.

Though Lincoln was highly influential, there were still a great many local residents who were unsympathetic toward Blacks in America and, in that very same year, an article in The Gazette described a lynch mob that took the law into their own hands, hanging a convicted murderer in a tree at the Courthouse Park. The tree was cut down after the hanging.
Also in1859 the high school was transferred from the downtown academy to the upper floor of the new Jefferson School (where Jefferson Park is now). 
James Harris and others founded a small implement manufacturing shop. By 1862, the company was known as the Rock River Iron Works, producing reapers and threshing machines.
Civil War Monument in front of the original Rock County Courthouse
William H. Tallman, William M.’s son, partnered with Henry W. Collins forming the perfume business, Tallman & Collins. The area’s perfume industry was flourishing. For a time, Tallman & Collins operated as an import and wholesale business. The company sold medicine, drugs, chemicals, perfumery, and liquors. 
The Civil War

1861 to 1865 - Janesville was very active during the Civil War and Rock County had the highest number of men enlisted in the Union Army.  
Local farms also sold grains to the Union army.  
Civil War Monument  today in Janesville as seen looking NW from up the hill on St. Lawrence Ave.
Many of the fallen soldiers are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in an area dedicated to the “Grand Army of the Republic”. In 1901, a 56-foot-tall monument to the fallen was erected on Courthouse Hill and was dedicated in a ceremony in 1902 to the memory of our soldiers and sailors in the “War of the Rebellion”.   
1869 - James Harris and his new partners incorporated the Rock River Iron Works as the Harris Manufacturing Company. The company was located along South Franklin Street and included a warehouse, an office, woodshop, foundry, a blacksmith shop and a three-story machine shop. Between 1869 and 1880, Harris's company employed approximately 125 workers.
1870 - Janesville’s population grew to over 8700.

That year, the Myers Theater was built on the corner of East Milwaukee Avenue and South Parker Drive, entertaining Janesville residents with fantastic live shows.

The Women’s Rights movement continued to grow after the Civil War. One of the key focuses of the group during the 1870s was the Temperance movement, led by Janesville’s Frances Willard and others during this era.
A Local Industry Boom

1876 - Hodge and Buchholz was the largest horse-drawn vehicle manufacturer in Janesville, employing between 15 and 20 workers. In 1886, after Hodge's death, Buchholz continued as president, constructing a larger, three-story factory building at 201-203 East Milwaukee St. 

1877 - Lavinia Goodell, a lawyer from Janesville, was admitted to practice before the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1877, the first woman in the state to gain the right.
1880s - The Janesville Electric Light Company and the Janesville Telephone Exchange were established.
Janesville saw the arrival of German immigrants settling in the area. The founding English population welcomed them with open arms, which led to an increase in the German population of the town.

1881 - J.M. Bostwick opened his own dry goods and department store, which later became Bostwick & Sons.

1885 - The Lawrence Carriage Top Company was established. By the early 1890’s the business was known as the Wisconsin Carriage Top Company.

They began to manufacture a complete line of horse-drawn vehicles and changed the name to the Wisconsin Carriage Company. The factory on Wall Street was destroyed by fire, so the Wisconsin Carriage Company built a new four-story factory at 600 W. Milwaukee St. 
1888 - At the young age of 25, George Safford Parker applied for his first pen patent and founded the Parker Pen Company. Parker held the driving philosophy: “It will always be possible to make a better pen.”

1893 - The Hodge & Buchholz company became the Janesville Carriage Works in 1893, manufacturing carriages, omnibuses, wagonettes and even hearses. They also built custom milk, bakery and other specialty wagons that were sold throughout the United States, in Germany, Scotland and India.

1889 - A short lived German Newspaper was printed for a few years called The Janesville Journal.
Carrie Jacobs Bond, of Janesville musician, had become a prolific songwriter by this time, writing her hit song, "I Love You Truly", while still living in town. After moving to Chicago, she eventually performed for President Theodore Roosevelt and sold one million copies of the song! In 1910, she also wrote a hit tune that became popular with the troops during World War I called, "A Perfect Day".
A New Century, GM and Two World Wars
1900 - 1950
1902 - The original Janesville City Hall was built at the corner of Jackson and Wall Streets, very near to where the current City Hall now stands. There were 9 full-time employees.
The Police Department and City Lock-up were on the first floor. The administrative offices and municipal court were on the second/main floor. The Council Chambers and an assembly hall occupied the third floor. The building included an attic for storage.

The city’s population was at 13,185.
1903 - A public library was built, mainly funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
1900 - 1950
The original City Hall building, built in 1902, where the current Municipal Building stands
1908 - The Parker Pen factory on Main Street in Janesville became very successful. It was reported at the time as the largest pen manufacturing facility in the world. Parker eventually became one of the world's premier pen brands, and one of the first brands with a global presence.
The Janesville Machine Company, formerly Harris Manufacturing, had grown to be the largest manufacturing enterprise in the city. It employed between 250 and 300 workers and produced more than $500,000 worth of products annually.
1913 - The Apollo Theatre opened as a vaudeville house at 306 W. Milwaukee St. It could seat 700-800 on the main floor, the balcony, and box seats.
World War I

1914 - Many of Janesville's young men and women entered WWI, fighting in the battles across Europe. A WWI memorial on the corner of Franklin and West Milwaukee Streets in downtown Janesville lists the names of nearly 1,000 service men and women and indicates those who died in the service of their county.
General Motors Comes to Janesville
1918 - Samson Tractor constructed its new plant in Janesville near the Court Street Bridge. General Motors purchased the Janesville Machine Company and merged it with Samson Tractor.

1919 - When the tractor company curtailed production due to a farm depression, GM wanted to abandon the Janesville plant.
General manager, Joseph A. Craig, convinced the company to stay. They built a new plant at 1000 Industrial Ave. The company grew when they began manufacturing Chevrolet automobiles a few years later.
A Janesville 1923 Cheverolet owned by Gary Mawhinney
Woodman's is founded by John Woodman and his family in Janesville with a corner produce stand. The family sold their farm after land prices skyrocketed during World War I. In 1921, Willard Woodman joined his father in the business. They moved the produce indoors and built a 580 sq. ft. grocery store at 922 Milton Avenue, where Castaways Thrift Shop now stands. Today, there are 18 Woodman’s stores spanning from Northern Wisconsin to the greater Chicago area in Illinois.
On June 10, 1919, Wisconsin became the first state to ratify the 19th amendment granting national suffrage to women.

1920 - The Janesville Chamber of Commerce hired city planner John Nolen of Cambridge, Massachusetts to develop a park and planning scheme for the City. Nolen saw potential in the Rock River valley area for parks and recreation purposes. He helped the city adopt a zoning ordinance. Thanks to Nolen, Janesville planned and developed many parks and it became known as the “City of Parks”.

1922 - Riverside Park became a favorite local destination of natural beauty and recreation.
where the evening deer still roam.jpg
Photo by Abb's Tracks Photography
1923 - Chevrolet began producing automobiles at the GM plant. In the same year, an adjacent Fisher Body plant began construction. The Janesville plant served as the oldest General Motors plant in North America prior to its closing in 2008. It assembled a variety of vehicles from the early tractors to automobiles, Chevy vehicles, light-duty trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Janesville adopted a city manager-council form of government.The city council currently consists of seven members, elected at large for two-year terms.

Emma Manning was elected as the first woman to the Janesville City Council.
1928 - The doors of The Janesville Woman’s Club at 108 S. Jackson opened to the public. It served as a lasting accomplishment for the women of Janesville. The club of women continued to diligently serve our community up to the present time.

The Lions Club purchased the area known as Goose Island and donated it to the City to be used as a public park. Henry Traxler saw the space would be great as a recreational center or park. In 1956, the park was renamed Traxler Park, after the former City Manager for his part in its creation.
Formation of a Stronger UAW

1937 - As the Great Depression dragged on, autoworkers grew more frustrated and were loudly demanding their rights.
The Women's Club at 108 S. Jackson Street
Janesville's GM Fisher Body plant employees staged a sit-down strike following the origin of the event in Flint, Michigan, making national news.
Unlike many anti-union papers, the local Janesville Gazette newspaper was significant in reporting the strike, as it provided unbiased and fair coverage of the ongoing negotiations between city manager Henry Traxler and union officials.
The movement set the stage for future workers’ rights movements and helped build the call for improved benefits, and working conditions.

Janesville’s General Motors plant attracted people to the city, causing a population growth and city expansion during the early 20th century.
World War II
1942 - Many of Janesville’s young men went off to war in Europe and the Pacific. A group of 99 soldiers from the 192nd Tank Battalion, who trained at The Armory, were sent off to the Philippines. All endured the cruelty of the Bataan Death March at the height of WWII.
Only 35 of the 99 made it home. The survivors endured PTSD for many years after the war. A memorial to the “Janesville 99” can be found at the corner of Franklin and West Milwaukee Streets, where a ceremony is held each May to honor them.

1944 - Prior to his service in the military, Bob Hiller started his own bakery when he was just a teenager. It later became Rollin’ Pin Bakery. He later entered the U.S. Army in 1947, serving in Korea, and then returned to run the business. The bakery is still in business today, serving Janesville's favorite pastries and treats around holidays throughout the year. 

1949 - Hi-Way 26 Outdoor Theatre, a drive-in theater, with one 33x46' screen and room for 500 cars. It was launched by the Badger Outdoor Theatre Company. The Hi-Way 26 drive in closed in the early 1980’s. Eventually, in 1986, Woodman’s Grocery Store moved to that same area.
Korea, Vietnam, The Gardens and Peace
1950 - 2000
1950 - 2000
1950s - Again, many of our boys went off to the war in Korea. Letters came home every day in the mail, nearly the only way the folks could know if their soldeir was still alive. A memorial to the Janesville soldiers lost in the Korean War is located at the Traxler Park war memorial.
Janesville’s post-war prosperity saw a bustling downtown with great success for many businesses and dress shops like Golden Eagle, Elliott’s, Hagen’s and Anderson’s. The townsfolk would flock downtown, even just to go window shopping along the streets. For the gentlemen, there was Bostwick’s, the Hub and Rayberg’s.

For jewelry, one could shop at J.J. Smith’s, Sheppard's, McLean's, Dewey and Bandt, Tietz and Dubes Jewelry, which was run by Ken Corey until his death in 2019. Downtown Janesville also brought shoppers to Douglas Hardware, May’s Drug Store, Woolworths, always a favorite stop, and Kealy’s.

The late Ken Corey described it as a bustling downtown, where one could find everything and, "at Christmastime, it was so busy that you would have to walk in the street because the sidewalks were full, just to get out of peoples’ way!”  

The city had been given the “bathhouse” at Goose Island which was previously used by the Rock River Boat Association. The city refurbished the building, and the Rock Aqua Jays took over maintenance of the building after the Rock River Boat Association dissolved.
1953 - A second shift was added to both the Chevrolet and the Fisher Body factories.
1954 - A new Janesville High School was constructed on South Randall Avenue. It would later be renamed Joseph A. Craig High School in 1967.
The Vietnam War

1960s - Once again, our younger generation was sent off to war in a far-off land, only this time surrounded by national unrest and political controversy. They left as boys and came home as men; many not receiving the hero’s welcome of previous wars. Too many were lost in the PTSD brought on by the horrors of war in Vietnam. There were many casualties from Janesville. They are remembered every Memorial Day at the war memorial in Traxler park.
Janesville City Hall , built in 1968
1967 - Janesville's population grew and the city expanded on the west side of the river. The Janesville high school became too crowded, Construction began on George S. Parker High School, which opened for classes in 1968.

1968 - As the city expanded to the north, east and south, the city government was in need of more office space. The original City Hall building was razed and replaced with the current City Hall, dedicated on August 3rd, 1968.
1972 - The Janesville Mall was built on highway 26, at a site that was (then) at the north edge of the growing city limits. It included large departments stores such as Montgomery Wards and JC Penney, and later Kohl’s, with several smaller shops, eateries and a movie theater.
1978 - After over 120 years, Bostwick’s closed its downtown store.

1980s - With the outward expansion of the city, new shopping plazas and the new mall, the larger department stores of downtown either closed or moved out and smaller businesses suffered. Many downtown buildings became vacant.

1986 - Local efforts resulted in GM moving medium-duty truck and full-size sport-utility production from plants in Michigan to Janesville. A new population of GM employees nicknamed “eighty-sixers” came on board.
Japanese Bridge IMG_6942.jpg
Canna Lily No Signature IMG_0233 (002).j
Japanese Garden No Signature IMG_4681 Ed
Rotary Botanical Gardens photos by Marsha Mood Photography
The Rotary Botanical Gardens 
1988 - Retired orthodontist, Dr. Robert Yahr, approached the two Rotary Clubs in Janesville and inquired about their interest in developing a botanical garden for the community to enjoy. Both clubs began work to clean up the to clean up the pond and surrounding area located between Lions Beach and Kiwanis Pond.
The area had been covered with debris, used as storage for the Parks Department and as a local BMX bicycle racetrack. The project snowballed into a beautiful, Janesville destination of several internationally styled gardens, brick walkways, wooden benches, fountains, art pieces, the Rath Environmental Center, a horticultural building and a visitor center.
Dozens of dedicated volunteers and a small staff keep the gardens beautiful year round. Several events throughout the year, including a Holiday Light Show at the Rotary Botanical Gardens brings in over 100,000 visitors annually!
Janesville's Peace Park Built on the Sit
Peace Park in Janesville, WI
1992 - The city’s struggle against persistent racism came to a peak when a KKK rally was held in Janesville. TV personality and talk show host Geraldo Rivera came to the city to cover the event and broke into a fight with a member of the KKK. Rivera's scuffle in Janesville made news on national programs.
May Peace Prevail

After the event, a group of citizens and organizers planned to build a park on the site of the rally, naming it Peace Park. It includes a large playground and a 52-foot tall peace pole with the inscription, “May Peace Prevail on the Earth” in several languages. When constructed, the peace pole was the tallest in the world.
1998 - Members of the Janesville Branch of the American Association of University Women invited representatives of the Janesville School System, UW Extension, YWCA, YMCA, Bridge Builders, United Way and other community groups to come together to discuss the issue of diversity in our community. From this group, the Diversity Action Team organization was formed with a goal of advocating for Janesville to become a more welcoming community for all people, regardless of ethnicity, race, economic status or abilities.
The GM Closing and Janesville's Recovery
2000 - 2020
2000s - The city’s northside expansion continued as a Walmart Supercenter and a Sam's Club opened after a period of controversy. The former Janesville Oasis, known for the large fiberglass Bessie the Cow, began redevelopment with a Super Menards, attracting more shoppers to the north end of Janesville.

2008 - Janesville GM closed its doors, which took a heavy emotional and social toll on the community, throwing the city into the economic downturn that had already started gripping the nation. Many GM workers ended up transferring to different plants in other states. Others struggled through the transition into training programs at local colleges and took on new occupations.
2000 - 2020
2011 - Over the previous couple of decades, Janesville’s minority populations started to grow. In April, Janesville elected Sam Liebert as the first Black City Council member. He became City Council President in April of 2016.

2015 - Janesville developed its first flag, designed by Maggie Gorman. The four stars symbolize the city's four original wards, the green stands for the community’s agricultural history and black symbolizes both our rich soil and the smokestacks reflecting our manufacturing economy. The center tree is our city logo, representing the “City of Parks”.
Looking Forward

Forward Janesville, Inc. led the way to help diversify our economy, working to bring new businesses to the Janesville area. It was announced that Dollar General would build a one million-square-foot distribution center in Janesville that, by 2019, would employ 552 people.
Photo by Abb's Tracks Photography - GM s
The General Motors plant sign comes down after the sale of the property at the end of 2017. Photo by Abb's Tracks Photography
2016 - The City of Janesville, private investors and downtown groups such as Downtown Janesville, Inc. and ARISEnow began a revitalization campaign of Janesville’s downtown. The old parking lot over the Rock River was removed, new restaurants and small businesses began to occupy the vacant buildings of Main and Milwaukee streets and a new Town Square on the Rock River’s west bank began to take shape.
The park includes a pavilion, lawn space and an interactive water feature named, “The Bubbler”, in an online voting survey. The construction of the Blain Gilbertson Family Heritage Pedestrian Bridge, is among the most recent of the projects overseen by ARISEnow, a public-private group promoting downtown revitalization.
The Bubbler water feature at the Town Square
Also in 2016, Local artist, James Richter painted a large and beautiful mural called, The Janesville Circuit, as a nod to GM and an era when cruising the downtown circuit was part of the fabric of our community culture.
2017 - SHINE, a medical isotopes company, opened its headquarters in Janesville.

2018 - Local artist James Richter painted his “Janesville” mural as part of the Doty Mill Alley beautification project, just off of River Street near the new Town Square.

2019 - As part of the continuing efforts to revitalize downtown Janesville, Nigela Ryan brought Artist Jeff Henriquez from Brooklyn, NY to paint a mural of Chief Black Hawk. Henriquez said he hopes the mural will remind people of the area’s Native Americans, and not just in Wisconsin, but across the country.

Click to View Janesville Mural Photos

The COVID-19 Pandemic
2020 - The deadly COVID-19 pandemic reached Rock County in March of this year. Hospitalizations and the local death toll increased.
By March 24th, the State of Wisconsin issued an emergency “Safer at Home order” requiring Wisconsin residents to stay home and all non-essential businesses to close, including all schools.
The economic impact of the pandemic was devastating to many local small businesses and individuals. 

A large group of local citizens began to sew masks in bulk and organized to distribute them quickly to local healthcare facilities, nursing homes and eventually to the City of Janesville staff.
These Facemask Warriors were the new Rosies, ready to help in the effort to slow the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

The local Class of 2020 experienced a sudden halt to their senior year and experienced a school end and graduation unlike any other graduating class. Future plans for many were either changed or put on hold.
Signs of the Pandemic - Photo Collage by Marsha Mood Photography
An Awakening
Near the end of May, as if things couldn’t get much worse, the public murder of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by a police officer in Minneapolis sparked local, national and world protests.
The City of Janesville’s Police Chief, David Moore, put out a statement condemning the act, calling for respect and fairness, with a promise to strengthen the department’s relationship with people of color. Chief Moore had implemented the African American Liaison Advisory Committee (AALAC) in 2017. This group allows for Janesville’s African American citizens to have a voice in police department operations and to work toward solutions to various issues in the community.

During the 2020 Pandemic, every business and organization began to get creative with ways to continue serving the public in a safe manner. Schools began online lessons. Businesses held Zoom meetings and the City of Janesville livestreamed City Council meetings. Restaurants offered special curbside pick-up ordering and eventually extra outdoor seating. 
Video of Music at the Marv, socially distanced, at Courthouse Park, July 22nd
Concert by The Smoky Nights
Creative Solutions
By June, Downtown Janesville, Inc. and the City of Janesville had worked together to continue the popular Music at the Marv concert series in the park with special “pods”, or designated areas, creating distance and requiring masks outside the pods. The concerts resumed in 2020, with minor adjustments in the schedule and highly attended concerts.

In mid-July, Rock County began requiring the Rock County citizens to wear face coverings when visiting Rock County-owned facilities.

On August 1, the State of Wisconsin Governor’s Office issued Emergency Order #1, requiring face coverings in enclosed spaces. 
Determined to Rise Again
The City of Janesville, local businesses and organizations, such as the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, continue to work to find innovative ways to serve the public and keep our economy alive and well through this challenging time. 

Over the last 167 years, Janesville has learned how to bounce back - from out of the Great Depression of the 1930s to, decades later, what seemed like rock bottom, when General Motors closed its doors and we entered the 2009 Recession. And now, this 2020 crisis will not keep Janesville down. The people of this community are strong, resilient and talented. Blend those qualities with a mix of ambition and determination and this beautiful City of Parks along the Rock River will soon be on its feet again!


Janesville drone view by Joe Jimenez.jpg
Janesville, Wisconsin - From drone footage by Joe Jimenez
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