The city completely surrounds the smaller Town of Madison, the City of Monona, and the villages of Maple Bluff and Shorewood Hills.
The City of Madison continued annexations from the Town of Madison almost from the date of the city's incorporation, leaving the latter a collection of discontiguous areas subject to annexation.
In the wake of continued controversy and an effort in the state legislature to simply abolish the town, an agreement was reached in 2003 to provide for the incorporation of the remaining portions of the Town into the City of Madison and the City of Fitchburg by October 30, 2022.
Madison is located in the center of Dane County in south-central Wisconsin, 77 miles (124 km) west of Milwaukee and 122 miles (196 km) northwest of Chicago.
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The cornerstone for the Wisconsin capitol was laid in 1837, and the legislature first met there in 1838.