In November 1834, Capt. Gilbert Knapp staked a claim to 141 acres at the mouth of the Root River, naming it Port Gilbert. This site became the city of Racine. During the pioneer years, Racine was dubbed "the Belle City" of the Great Lakes (from the French word belle, meaning "beautiful"). The growth of this beautiful city and its harbor was captured in vintage postcards at a time when people sent little notes and messages to friends and family the way people use e-mail and cell phones today. These cards are like vignettes showing the changes that have taken place since one century agoa pictorial documentation of Racine preserved for future generations to enjoy.
About the Author
Author and historian Gerald L. Karwowski has written a number of booklets and newspaper articles about the city's past and has entertained hundreds of groups with a slide show called "Racine in History." Karwowski retired after a 30-year career at the J.I. Case Company and has served as a Racine landmarks commissioner and as a trustee of the Racine County Historical Society. A devoted collector for the past 40 years, he has gathered one of the largest local history collections in Racine County.