Racine is an industrial center located 30 miles south of Milwaukee and 50 miles north of downtown Chicago. Local businesses include J.I. Case (a manufacturer of farm equipment) and the S.C. Johnson Co. (of Johnson Wax and Windex fame). The Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Johnson’s headquarters is one of the most famous commercial buildings in the country, and there are four other Wright buildings in town. Despite the steady employment brought by S.C. Johnson and its headquarters and factory operations, the rest of the economy has been in the doldrums. Recently-elected leadership is working hard to bring new business to the area.
Aside from the Johnson headquarters and some attractive renewal on the city’s main street, there is little of architectural or physical interest. The city has recognized its waterfront as a valuable asset, and has done a good job revitalizing it and adding parks and open areas. A few minor cultural amenities exist, with additional options in nearby Milwaukee and Chicago. The cost of living is attractively low given its proximity to Milwaukee (20 miles north) and Chicago (70 miles south), and housing is particularly affordable.
The Root River bisects Racine before entering Lake Michigan, providing settings for riverfront parks. The surrounding terrain is mainly level and built up or cleared for agriculture. The climate is mainly continental with some lake influence. Storm systems from the west cause frequent weather changes. Summers are warm and often humid, influenced both by the inflow of Gulf moisture from the south and the lake itself, although cooling afternoon breezes occur near shore. Winter brings storms, occasionally severe, dropping snow and temperature readings. Snow can remain on the ground for weeks. Winds off the lake moderate temperature but increase windchill factor. Summer precipitation is mainly thundershowers; spring and fall are variable with pleasant dry days alternating with rainy periods.