Postcard: Wisconsin Street, looking East from Post Office, Milwaukee

This postcard calls the street (running from the foreground to the lake in the background) Wisconsin Street. Prior to 1926, this street had two different names–Grand Avenue west of the Milwaukee River and Wisconsin Street east. In 1926, the city renamed the entire length as Wisconsin Avenue.

The postcard isn’t dated but comes from the early years of the 20th Century. We can tell this because the scene is from the perspective of the tower of the Federal Building, which was built in 1899 between Jackson and Jefferson Street on Wisconsin Avenue. The most prominent intersection, in the lower right corner, is Wisconsin and Van Buren, which today is dominated by three familiar buildings: The Gas Light Building (1930) on the near left corner, the Northwestern Mutual building (1914) on the far left, and the US Bank tower (1973) on the far right. (Also, the rear of this postcard has the sort of familiar divided back we know today–with a section on the left for a handwritten note and another section on the right for the address–and those postcards weren’t permitted in the US until 1907.)

This section of Milwaukee’s downtown saw considerable change as the “city” grew eastward from its origins on the river. The many residential homes and small apartment buildings that you see on the left (north) would be replaced by commercial and midrise apartment buildings in the next several decades.

On the right (or south side of Wisconsin Avenue), you can see a number of historic old buildings that were subsequently demolished. The tall tower in the distance is the Chicago & Northwestern Lake Front Depot (built in 1890 and razed in 1968). The circular turret in front of that is the Globe Hotel (built in 1892 and razed in 1961), which was on the southeast corner of Wisconsin and Cass. And the large red building on the right edge of the postcard was the Hotel Martin (built in 1889 and razed in 1958).

The shore of Lake Michigan was a lot closer to the city at the time of this postcard than it is today. Lake and Veteran Parks were created from landfill over the course of decades, expanding the city’s footprint into Lake Michigan.



PLUS Code: 23QW+C4 Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Approximate Google Earth view today:,-87.90256499,184.8871059a,166.93667098d,35y,70.8383103h,74.43074418t,0r

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