Mapping Wealth in La Crosse County

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2017, median annual household income in La Crosse County was $54,127, compared to the Wisconsin statewide median of $59,305. La Crosse County may be poorer than the majority of counties in the state, but these statistics are only a small part of a larger picture. In La Crosse County, like many other counties across the United States, rich and poor coexist. An examination of Census and household income data within the county reveals a complex distribution of wealth.

The main spatial disparity of income in the county exists between the city of La Crosse and its surrounding municipalities. Notable exceptions include the block centered on Cass Street, in south La Crosse, as well at the neighborhoods in the shadows of Grandad Bluff. 

This map provides a more precise approximation of where really rich households reside, going beyond what a median can show. Higher median income areas in Holmen and Brice Prairie have fewer high income households, while certain pockets in Onalaska, bluffside La Crosse, and Shelby, have concentrations of high earners. 

Property values are another measure of wealth, and are determined by city and county assessors, usually every five years. Higher assessments equate to higher property tax values. Because these data are more precise, it is easier to see the disparities between neighborhoods.

Understanding the fabric of wealth within a place is key to understanding the nature of class politics within that area. It is also only a first step. These maps show trends, but don’t explain them. They raise questions, but don’t answer them. In short, they are springboards for future inquiry and investigation.

Graphics and text by Gareth Baldrica-Franklin

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