Williams Bay, Wisconsin

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Williams Bay is a village in Walworth County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 2,415 at the 2000 census.



Williams Bay is home to the Yerkes Observatory.


Williams Bay is located at 42°34′27″N 88°32′37″W / 42.57417°N 88.54361°W / 42.57417; -88.54361 (42.574208, -88.543690)[3].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 3.5 square miles (9.0 km²), of which 2.7 square miles (6.9 km²) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km²) is water.


Williams Bay is one of three incorporated villages on Geneva Lake. Much of the area was settled in the early 19th century by surveyors plotting roadways from the East and century as a vacation spot for wealthy Chicagoans displaced by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. During the latter part of the 20th century, Williams Bay (and the surrounding lakes area) saw an explosive housing boom. The population has nearly doubled within the past 30 years as more people are finding its slow-paced, relaxed style attractive.

Williams Bay is home to a beautiful lake-side park including a beach (including new beach house built in 2006). The park also has a public boat launching facility. Williams Bay is named for Captain Israel Williams of Connecticut, a War of 1812 sea captain, who with several of his sons, settled in the area in 1835. Another famous Williams (not related) in the area is George Williams (YMCA), the founder of the YMCA whose officials and students of Chicago-based George Williams College frequently met just west of the town of Williams Bay and later established a camp in the village on the shores of Lake Geneva. George Williams College folded in the 1970s and is today part of Aurora University, which today maintains the campus.


No public transportation presently serves Williams Bay, but until the 1960s, it was the terminus of the Chicago and North Western Railway. The line also had stops in Como, Lake Geneva, Genoa City, Richmond, and McHenry, Illinois. A nature park now exists where the railroad once had a station and yards, but the right-of-way is still discernible in some areas.

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