Historic Downtown

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Prairie du Chien, the oldest Euro-American settlement established on the Upper Mississippi River, was a rendezvous point for early commerce and trade. The rich history of this second-oldest town in Wisconsin, is the focus of the PdC Main Street and Driftless Development Inc. volunteers, as they work to establish downtown as the social and economic heart of the community and promote the Downtown District.

Nestled between bluffs and the Mississippi River, the Downtown District is a shopping, dining, lodging and entertainment destination for sightseers, recreationalists and regional residents. The 20-block district begins on the river’s edge of St. Feriole Island, running east to the foot of the bluffs and includes businesses one block north and south of Blackhawk Avenue. Architecture in the district reflects the history of the community and dates back to the 1840’s, with many buildings restored to their unique charm and character. Local businesses include an eclectic array of restaurants, bars and specialty retail shops such as a bakery, custom butcher shop, candy and quilt shops, sporting goods stores, drug stores, appliance and furniture stores, a party store, clothing and shoe stores, resale shops and gift shops featuring antiques, local art and artists. Professional and public services including automotive services call the district home as well.

Over 12 years ago, PdC was designated a Wisconsin Main Street community, which has helped spur downtown revitalization. Improvements include new streetscape, period streetlights, benches, planters and landscaped flower beds. There are many locations to host live music, art festivals and seasonal farmers markets.

Downtown is the social and economic heart of our city and it reflects how our community sees itself. The PdC Main Street program will champion the historic preservation of downtown to create a unique and aesthetically rich environment that is a lively and friendly destination for both consumers and businesses.