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there has been a large increase of manufacture, less than 1,000,000 of bricks were exported, and of this number a great share was on old contracts. Large numbers of stores were erected, many of them spacious and valuable buildings. As nearly as we can ascertain, there are of this class 75 stores, of an aggregate cost of $250,000. In addition to these improvements, there were erected 500 small buildings, including shops, offices, and dwellings, costing, on an average, $1000 each, at an aggregate cost of $500,000,
Besides the improvements we have mentioned, there were many other buildings erected. The amount expended upon construction and repairs, exclusive of streets and ground, exceeds $2,150,000.
In this connection it is pertinent to remark, that Milwaukee is celebrated for the manufacture of a peculiar kind of brick, of a delicate cream or straw color, agreeable to the eye, and unaffected by the action of the elements. The appearance of the houses, chiefly built of this material, is very striking, and to a stranger visiting the place for the first time, presents an admirable and remarkable sight. Few cities in the country (if, indeed, there are any) have the materials for building more at hand, or of finer quality, than this. Not only quarries of beautiful, light-colored stone, within the limits of the city, and adjacent to the railroads, but also lime in abundance for home consumption and exportation.
As to lamber, the pineries of the north supply the city with 100,000,000 feet annually.
WHOLESALE TRADE. The wholesale business of Milwaukee has received a great impetus lately, on account of the penetration of the interior of the State by railroads, and the opening of a direct road to the Mississippi. From present appearances,
there is abundant reason for believing that this part of its trade has but just begun, and that the future will see it increase in still greater ratio.
During the present year, the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad was opened to Galena and Dubuque, and also to Prairie du Chien. By either of these routes merchandise can be delivered from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi river, with less railroad transit than any routes now in existence.
Among the most important railroads is the Milwaukee and La Crosse, which passes through the interior of the State, opening up some of the finest farming lands in the West; also running its branches into the lumber and mining regions of the North, as well as forming connections with the Land Grant roads of Minnesota, which will eventually carry to Milwaukee, to be shipped to the East, a large portion of the produce of that productive State. The completion of these roads will bring to this city a heavy trade, that has been always supposed would centre at Chicago. Already Milwaukee outstrips her in the grain business; the receipts and exports at this place, the present season, exceed those of Chicago, and there is no reason to show why they may not for the future.
The merchants of this city procure transportation at a less tariff of freight than any port on the lake, by the lines of propellers now running between this and the lower lake ports, so that they are able to sell to the more Western houses at rates of advance, on New York, Boston, and Philadelphia prices, little more than cost, insurance, and transportation. At least 150 merchants are engaged in the wholesale business of this city, besides a large number who do a heavy retail trade with the country lying on the railroad lines. The amount of the wholesale trade, for the year 1856, is estimated at $16,942,000.
Among the houses included in this estimate are eighteen whose sales are over $200,000 each ; eight that sell over $300,000 each; three that sell over $400,000; and two that sell over $500,000 each.
No city in the Union offers better, safer, or more remunerative employment for capital, than Milwaukee. The banking-system of Wisconsin is probably the safest in the United States. Under such an organization it is scarcely possible that bill-holders can suffer loss.'
There is no law in Wisconsin against high rates of interest. The legal rate for banks being 10 per cent.,
and 12 per cent. for other purposes. The penalty for higher than these rates being simply a forfeiture of the interest charged, and only recoverable by a tender of the principal
Every bank must transfer, in trust, to the State Treasurer, United States stocks, or any State stocks on which full interests at not less than six per cent. is annually paid, and estimated at their average value for the previous six months in New York City, equal to the amount of bills intended to be put in circulation ; but the Comptroller is not bound to receive them unless he considers them safe.
“ The law further provides that the bonds of any Railroad company in this State, which have forty miles or more in operation, bearing a rate of seven per cent. per annum, interest payable semi-annually, and secured by a deed of trust upon such road, may be received in lieu of public stocks; but, in such case, bills shall be issued for not more than one-half the amount of such bonds.
“And, as an additional security to bill-holders, it is provided that, before circulating any notes, bonds shall be given by the directors and stockholders of the bank, secured to the satisfaction of the Comptroller, to the amount of one-fourth the bills to be issued.
“ Each bill must have on its face the words, Secured by pledge of Public stocks,' (or of Railroad bonds,) and be countersigned by the Bank Comptroller.”—Abstract of the Banking Law of the State.
in gold. Large amounts of capital are flowing here yearly for investment, drawn from other States, in which the legal rates of interest are from six to eight per cent.
The Bauks average 10 per cent. dividends; the Insurance Companies, 10 to 15; and the Railroads, 8 to 10 per cent. Several millions of dolllars could be invested at these rates in the city.
Table, showing the Principal Items in the Reports of the Banks of the
City of Milwaukee, as made to the Comptroller, for January, 1857.
Besides the business done by the eight banks of issue, there is a large amount of transactions through private bankers and brokers. During the past year, there was added to the banking capital of the city $475,000, and it is contemplated to increase the capital of several banks during the current year of 1857. From careful estimates, the amount of money used by the entire mercantile and manufacturing business for 1856, exceeded $30,000,000.
WHEAT TRADE. Milwaukee is one of the largest grain-markets in the world. Probably nine-tenths of the surplus wheat (the staple) of the State, is shipped from her port. So high has Wisconsin wheat stood at the Eastern: and European markets, that its merchants have been able to sell it for eight to ten cents per bushel above the prices for Illinois and more southern States. This fact has turned the atten
tion of farmers to raising it, to the exclusion of other grains; and, while the wheat crop, since 1850, has increased at the ratio of fifty per cent. per annum,
rye, oats, barley, and corn, have remained stationary, or advanced only with the home demand. The
crop of 1856 was the largest ever harvested in the State, and was secured in good condition. It was estimated at 12,000,000 bushels, an excess of 4,000,000 over the crop of 1855. We add a table, showing the rates at which Chicago and Milwaukee spring-wheat sold in New York during the past year. With such an advantage for Milwaukee wheat, this market will always have the preference over Chicago.
Prices of Wheat at New York, 1856.
1 373 (choice).
161 (choice). Sept. 1
1 30 Oct. 1
1 44 Nov. 1
1 38 (choice). 144 Dec. 1
RAILROAD SYSTEM OF MILWAUKEE.
This city is connected by railroads with every section of the Union. The Milwaukee and Mississippi, the Milwaukee and Watertown, East and West, connecting the Lakes and the Mississippi River. The La Crosse and Milwaukee, and the Chicago, St. Paul, and Fond du Lac