Madison is the capital of Wisconsin and the seat of Dane County. The city is built primarily on an isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona, just north of Lakes Waubesa and Kegonsa, leading to Madison's designation as "The City of Four Lakes." With an economy driven by state government and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the city is populated by artists, politicians, musicians, professionals, students, and everything in between. Madison consistently ranks near the top of Money magazine's best places to live in the U.S., coming in at #1 in 1996.
Before it was even a city, Madison was chosen as the capital of Wisconsin. James Doty, a former federal judge, purchased the land in the Wisconsin Territory in 1836 with the intention of building a capital city. He lobbied the legislature aggressively in Belmont, offering the legislators buffalo robes and promising choice Madison lots at bargain prices to the undecided voters. Although Madison only existed on paper at the time, the legislature voted to move the capital to Madison, mainly because of its convenient location between Milwaukee, Prairie du Chien, Green Bay, and the lead mining regions to the southwest. Of course, being named for the much admired James Madison and having streets named for the other founding fathers didn't hurt. The cornerstone for the state capitol building was laid in 1837, although Madison itself wasn't incorporated as a village until 1846.
The Wisconsin State Capitol dome is visible from just about anywhere in Madison, due to a state law that limits the heights of buildings within a mile of the structure. Capitol Square is an integral part of downtown Madison, and serves as central site for many of Madison's festivals and events. During the summer, the Dane County Farmer's Market is held in the square each Saturday morning and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra performs Concerts on the Square on Wednesday evenings. Mid-July also brings about Art Fair on the Square, where artists from across the country gather to display their works.