West Bend History
Before the United States claimed the Wisconsin territory in 1833, the West Bend area was home to the Potawatomi and Menominee Indians. Settlers (attracted by the Milwaukee River and the advantages it afforded industry and farming) began to make their homes in the area, and a village was established in 1845. The village – always a convenient midway stop between Milwaukee and Fond du Lac – had 30 families by 1848, and public spaces and buildings were soon established.
The arrival of the railroad in 1873 spurred a period of rapid growth and expansion, and the City of West Bend was incorporated in 1885. In 1961, the community of Barton was incorporated into West Bend’s corporate boundaries, and today’s population of over 30,000 reflects the solid community and economic base forged by West Bend’s founders.
West Bend is a Bird Friendly City
Birds can be seen all throughout the city. Our many acres of parks and trails are a great place to start. Click on the photo to learn more about our park locations and what you can do to attract a variety of birds to your backyard habitat.
Location and Transportation
West Bend is located in the center of Wisconsin’s Washington County at the junction of U.S. Highway 45 and State Highway 33. The community is less than an hour drive northwest of Milwaukee and three hours from Chicago. Interstates 43 and 94, U.S. Highways 41 and 45, and State Highways 144 and 33 are easily accessed from West Bend. Public transportation includes the City of West Bend Shared Ride Taxi Service, Washington County Shared Ride Service and Washington County Commuter Express bus service, which transports people to and from the City of Milwaukee. General Mitchell International Airport is located in Milwaukee, and the West Bend Municipal Airport is located on the east side of West Bend on State Highway 33.
Attractive single-family homes, condominiums, and multiple-family housing units are found throughout West Bend. Independent living units, assisted living and county operated facilities provide choices for older adults and those in need of housing assistance.
Eisenbahn Trail, Regner Park, Lac Lawrann Conservancy
A unique blend of city and county parks – equipped with miles of trails, natural areas and active recreation venues – are available to West Bend’s residents and visitors.
The city’s park system has over 1,200 acres of parks and green space, including the Milwaukee Riverfront Parkway. Approximately five miles of the 1,000-mile National Ice Age Trail cross through West Bend’s Ridge Run County Park and the city’s Glacial Blue Hills Recreation Area. The city’s 137-acre Lac Lawrann Conservancy conducts ongoing environmental education programs, and has 5 miles of trails. The Eisenbahn State Trail, extending from West Bend into eastern Wisconsin, has 5-1/2 miles of paved trail and provides opportunities for hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing and more.
Riverside and Quaas Creek parks offer various recreation opportunities, and Regner Park offers a beach and swimming area that becomes an ice skating rink in the winter. Sixteen playgrounds exist within the city park system.
Riveredge Nature Center in nearby Newburg consists of 350 acres of natural sanctuary-prairies, forests, ponds and marshes along the Milwaukee River. The Kettle Moraine area is a special draw for bikers, skiers, snowmobilers, campers and hikers.
Discover the many shops and restaurants of West Bend. The historic downtown marketplace is home to specialty shops offering gifts, jewelry, apparel and more. In addition to shops along Main Street, you’ll find a variety of locally owned shops and big-name retailers along Washington Street (Highway 33) and Paradise Drive.
Feeling hungry? Choose from brew pubs, supper clubs, steakhouses, pizzerias and more. Start exploring West Bend’s retailers and eateries.
The West Bend School District has nine school buildings comprised of five K-4th grade elementary schools, one 5th & 6th grade school, one 7th & 8th grade school, East and West High Schools and a Charter School. In 2016, the district began a community-based 4K program. The West Bend School District earned a spot on the College Board’s Annual AP Honor Roll. They are one of 497 school districts nationwide recognized by the College Board. The district incorporates a continuous improvement process within each school to ensure a high level of student achievement. In addition to public schools, thirteen parochial schools are available in the area.
We have numerous child care facilities and churches throughout the community that provide daycare and age appropriate development opportunities for children. The Family Center of Washington County provides programs and activities for young families.
The West Bend campus of Moraine Park Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Washington County provide the resources for individuals to pursue certificates, diplomas, technical, associate and bachelor’s degrees.
UW-Extension provides outreach education through four core programs areas: Farm Business and Agriculture; Community Development; Family Living and Nutrition (SNAP-Ed/WNEP); and 4-H Youth Development.
West Bend’s healthcare resources include Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin (St. Joseph’s Hospital Campus and West Bend Clinic Campus) with multiple locations in Washington County and Aurora Health Center of West Bend. We also have many other health support services and practices.
River Bend Senior Village is an independent living community designed for seniors 55 and over. It is located close to downtown West Bend businesses, banks, post office and farmers market.
Continuum of Care
As a not-for-profit, Cedar Community provides services and environments to enhance the well-being of seniors and their families. They provide a continuum of care including independent and assisted living, skilled nursing care, rehabilitation, hospice, memory loss services and home care. Its six facilities are located in Washington & Sheboygan counties and provide service to over 1000 residents.
New Perspective Senior Living is a 145 unit senior living community offering a continuum of care including independent and assisted living and memory care. They are located close to shopping, the West Bend Clinic, restaurants, churches and has easy access to Hwy. 45. Amenities include a Bistro, pool, pub, fitness center and restaurant style dining.
The Waterford at West Bend is a senior living community that provides assisted living and memory care. The memory care community serves clients with mid to advanced stages of memory deficit including those with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias and those with exit seeking or wandering behaviors. The assisted living community serves clients requiring assistance with activities of daily living and who would benefit from congregate living offering supervision and safety.
Samaritan Campus is a continuum of care facility including assisted living, short term rehabilitation, sub-acute care, skilled nursing, bariatric, long term or end of life care. The Samaritan is a medicare certified facility.
The Fields of Washington County, which is located on the Samaritan Campus, is an assisted living residential facility.
The City of West Bend functions under a Mayor/Council form of government. Under this form of organization, an eight member, non-partisan Common Council is elected, along with the Mayor, to serve as the legislative branch of government for the City. A full-time professional city administrator oversees the management of daily activities for all offices, except for such authority vested by the Wisconsin Statutes.
The West Bend Police Department is responsible for safeguarding the lives and wellbeing of all persons within the City, protecting life and property and assisting in securing for all persons the equal protection of the law. The police department preserves the public peace, detects and prevents crime, enforces the laws and ordinances of the state and city to apprehend and arrest criminals, preserves order at public places and maintains the safe and orderly flow of traffic on public streets and highways.
The West Bend Fire Department has three fire stations located throughout the City. All three fire stations are staffed with career firefighters who are cross-trained as Paramedics. The Paramedics provide advanced level emergency medical services. The fire department provides fire suppression and emergency medical services to the City of West Bend and to the areas under contract with the City, as well as Advanced Life Support Intercept for surrounding communities. The department is responsible for conducting public fire safety and education programs, reviewing building and remodeling plans and handling hazardous material incidents.