The Vilas Neighborhood is one of Madison’s most coveted neighborhoods. Sandwiched between the historic Monroe Street & South Park Street, you'll find a plethora of local shops, restaurants, bars & coffee houses within walking distance. A nice mix of modest, eclectic, stately & historic homes dot the tree-lined streets. Numerous outdoor attractions including Lake Wingra, Henry Vilas Zoo & the Arboretum are at your fingertips. Just blocks from several hospitals & healthcare facilities & a mile from the Memorial Union & UW campus, Vilas is a popular place for all ages to call home.
The Vilas area is truly a one-stop shop kind of spot that can easily meet the interest of any visitor; a unique quality for such a compact space. Although Vilas is a well known and loved area in Madison, a recent stroll through the Henry Vilas Zoo and Vilas Park got me wondering how many people are aware of the rich history and fun facts that dwell there…
DID YOU KNOW that when Henry Vilas Zoo first opened in 1911, only the following animals were in attendance: nine deer, three ground hogs, three wood chucks, two guinea pigs, two rabbits, two white rats, one raccoon, one eagle, one squirrel and one toothless red fox?
DID YOU KNOW that an 230 year old tree sits on the edge of Vilas Park? In 1987 the National Arborist Association & the International Society of Arboriculture recognized the tree as having lived there at the time of the signing of our constitution. WOW!
DID YOU KNOW that Lake Wingra was originally surrounded by an expanse of wetlands that served as a favorite hunting & fishing spot for the Winnebago Indians?
DID YOU KNOW that the origins of the shoe slide in Vilas Park, a long time Madison icon, were a complete mystery up until just a couple years ago? The Wisconsin State Journal was contacted by those who had firsthand knowledge of the slide’s construction after including the slide in a series called “Madison in 100 Objects.” Who knew!
Do you have any fun facts or historical tidbits to share about the Vilas area? If so, drop us a line, we'd love to hear about them!