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Some area entrepreneurs and businessmen made their fortunes in the lumber industry.Many made significant contributions to the community, in both politics and supporting philanthropic organizations.Oshkosh had six historic districts as of October 2011.They include the Algoma Boulevard, Irving/Church, North Main Street, Oshkosh State Normal School on the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh campus, Paine Lumber Company, and Washington Avenue historic districts.The population density was 2,662.2 people per square mile (1,028.0/km²).There were 25,420 housing units at an average density of 1,075.6 per square mile (415.3/km²).34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.90. 18.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 18.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.7% were from 25 to 44; 23% were from 45 to 64; and 12.9% were 65 years of age or older.
The establishment and growth of the lumber industry in the area spurred development of Oshkosh.The city had 27 historic buildings and sites individually listed on the NRHP as of October 2011.Eleven are houses, four are churches, and the remainder include schools, colleges, a bank, a fire house, an observatory, the county courthouse, and a cemetery where many of the entrepreneurs are buried. The racial makeup of the city was 90.5% White, 3.1% African American, 0.8% Native American, 3.2% Asian, 0.7% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races.The community attracted a range of professional teachers, attorneys, doctors, businessmen, and others who helped it flourish. On April 28, 1875, Oshkosh had a "Great Fire" that consumed homes and businesses along Main Street north of the Fox River.The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern newspaper (now the Oshkosh Northwestern) was founded around this time, as was the Oshkosh State Normal School (now the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh). The fire engulfed 70 stores, 40 factories, and 500 homes, costing nearly .5 million (or .2 million in 2010 money) in damage.