University of Wisconsin–Madison

Madison Neighborhoods

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Map Key: Capitol: YELLOW | Bassett: BLUE | Wil-Mar: GREEN | Vilas: PINK |State-Langdon: PURPLE | Campus: RED

Capitol-East Neighborhood yellow dot

aerial downtown capitolNestled between Lakes Mendota and Monona, the Capitol Neighborhood encompasses the State Capitol and some of the oldest residential neighborhoods of Madison.  Close to the vibrant Capitol center, residents are only a few block's walking distance from the Madison Overture Center of the Arts, Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace, hip bars and coffee shops around Capitol square, and the famous Madison Farmer's Market (the largest producer-only farmer's market in the country).  Active Madisonians enjoy the green expanses of James Madison Park for frisbee, football, rowing and sailing on sunny afternoons.  The busy corridors of East Washington, Johnson and Gorham intersect the Capitol Neighborhood.  These streets are lined with older rental homes and flats inhabited predominantly by undergraduate students.  Law students seeking a quieter living experience in the Capitol Neighborhood will find it in the nearby Historic Districts of Mansion Hill and Wilson Street.  Running and cycling enthusiasts love the proximity to the Capital City Bike Trail.  The colorful near-east Willy Street Neighborhood, with its homey co-ops and one-of-a-kind cafes, lies just beyond the East Capitol Neighborhood.

Commute & Rental Details: Capitol Neighborhood is ideal for law students seeking a bit of separation while retaining a reasonably short commute to campus - the Law School is a quick 5-10 minute bus or bike ride from anywhere in the Capitol Neighborhood, or pleasant brisk 15-25 minute walk.  Buses regularly run from any side of the Capitol square, and on the busy corridors of Washington Avenue, Gorham, Johnson and Park Streets.  Rental rates vary widely ($550-1000), but a savvy researcher can find very reasonable rates for quiet, well-kept apartments.  Learn more:

Bassett/West Capitol Neighborhood lt blue dot

Just west of the Capitol square, between Lake Monona and the bustling campus, lies the Bassett Street Neighborhood.  Bassett radiates both modern university-town energy while retaining a deep history as one of Madison's oldest conclaves.  Those looking for a more lively, predominantly undergraduate-dense living experience will find it in the "closer-in" north Bassett Neighborhood offshoots bordering State Street and University Avenue.  Proximity to campus, the Memorial Union Terrace, and social scene is a primary draw for this side of the neighborhood.  To be sure, Dayton and Mifflin (home of the infamous Mifflin Street Block Party) Streets are packed with two and three-story rental homes.  However, law students looking to avoid raucous keg parties should carefully research rental apartments in this area.  Bassett becomes a bit more mellow as it travels a southeast path beyond West Washington Street, toward Lake Monona and Main and Wilson Streets.  This section of the neighborhood is a mix of historic homes, small rental buildings, modern condos, and small businesses.  A quick bike ride from anywhere on Bassett gets you to the Capital City Bike Trail, leisurely winding its way along the shore of Lake Monona.  Hip coffee shops near the Capitol on West Washington are just a few blocks away, perfect locales for studying over a hot cup of organic joe.  Groceries are within walking distance, as well. 

Commute & Rental Details: The Law School is between a 10-25 minute walk from Bassett, and buses run regularly down Broom, Bedford, University, and West Washington.  Five or so minutes by bike in the bike lane on University Avenue leads straight through East Campus Mall, to the Law School's back door.  Rental rates vary widely between $450-1500/mth in Bassett, depending on the quality and age of the housing - what you see (and hear) is what you'll likely get.               

Wil-Mar Neighborhood green dot

Known for its laid-back, bohemian identity, the Wil-Mar Neighborhood borders the calm waters of Lake Monona just northeast of the Capitol and encompasses the Marquette Bungalow Historic District and Willy Street areas.  With vibrant architecture, expansive parks, and broad tree-covered streets perfect for bike-riding and dog-walking, Wil-Mar is home to many families and young adults looking for a place to call home.  Willy Street is just a few block's walk from anywhere, where you'll find diverse locally-owned shops, restaurants, yoga studios, coffee houses, and the city's largest natural foods co-op.  Atwood Neighborhood and Olbrich Botanical Gardens are a short jaunt further northeast, a few minutes on the Bike Trail or on Williamson, Spaight or Jenifer Streets.  It is true that Wil-Mar residents have little need to leave their "green" haven, which has plenty to satisfy body, mind and soul.  Of all the neighborhoods in Madison, the Wil-Mar Neighborhood has one of the most active social festival calendars, with its Waterfront Festival (June), La Fete de Marquette (July), Orton Park Festival (August), and Willy Street Fair (September). 

Commute & Rental Details: Green-minded law students wishing to put a few extra physical and psychological miles between school and a park- or lake-side home are drawn to Wil-Mar.  While a fairly easy 15-minute bike or bus ride to campus, walking from Wil-Mar is admittedly a bit long by most students' standards - 40 minutes or more, even at a brisk pace.  In contrast to the Capitol and Bassett Neighborhoods, Wil-Mar has more residential homes than rental or condo properties.  Rental rates for flats is more expensive than the Bassett or Capitol Neighborhoods - almost nothing lower than $700 for a studio or small one bedroom - due to low supply and high demand.  Additionally, those looking for a sleek modern apartment with the latest stainless steel amenities should probably avoid Wil-Mar; most of the units are in older homes or bungalows with scuffed hardwood floors and abundant "character."  Learn more:

Vilas Neighborhood pink dot

aboretum woodsSandwiched on a shady, tree-lined knoll between the Arboretum, Monroe Street, and UW Campus, the Vilas Neighborhood is a mellow haven to a mix of academics, professionals, and students.  Vilas' rolling hills are the doorway to the natural wonders of Aldo Leopold's Arboretum, a peaceful wilderness in the city, buttressing Lake Wingra, with its miles of trails winding through silent woods and reclaimed prairie.  A stroll under Vilas' leaf-hooded streets is at once a meditative and sensory experience - Vilas boasts amazing historic architecture, styles ranging from Victorian and Queen Anne, to Craftsman, Georgian Revival, and Tudor.  Moreover, recreational opportunities are abundant and the energy they create is all around.  A few blocks' walk leads to expansive Wingra Park and Beach for a game of soccer or a paddle, Henry Vilas Zoo, Camp Randall on game day,  and many unique Monroe Street shops and events.  Escape from the city lights to the u-pick apple orchards and the rolling farmland that surrounds Madison (a well-known cyclists' paradise) is a quick jaunt down Seminole Highway, just beyond Vilas. 

Commute & Rental Details: In Vilas, law students will find a serene home within an approximate 10-25 minute walk or bike ride to the Law School.  Similar in many ways to the Wil-Mar Neighborhood demographic, relaxed and comfortable rental flats and smallish-apartment buildings are interspersed with family-owned homes.  Also similar to Wil-Mar, rents are not cheap in Vilas - rates are approximately $600 and up - but the trade-offs are worth it. Learn more:

Campus  and State-Langdon Neighborhoods red dotpurple dot

aerial uw fisheyeSituated at the heart of campus, the Campus and State-Langdon Neighborhoods are for those who are seeking the boisterous and quintessential experience of a massive Big Ten university town.  Be ready for complete immersion the constant energy of UW - from drum circles on State Street Mall, to hoards of fraternity and sorority pledges streaming down Landgon, merry-makers at all hours of the day and night partaking in the State Street social scene, seas of rowdy red-and-white tailgaters on Game Day, and the sounds of coxswain calling orders to nationally-ranked rowers practicing on Lake Mendota. 

Commute & Rental Details: Living here allows for quick and easy access by foot or bike to the Lakeshore Path and recreational facilities, Memorial Union Terrace, Bascom Hill, and all university buildings.  The vast majority of the houses and apartment buildings are home to undergraduate students - but a few brave law students choose to live amongst them.  Several modern high-rises have sprung up along Landgon, University, Park, and Dayton - in the midst of the dorms and a sprinkling of older rental homes - for those looking for more modern accommodations.  Students looking for studios or one-bedrooms will find a few gems on State Street or off Langdon, along the shores of Lake Mendota.  Prices range from the $500's and up.

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