WPA Milwaukee Guide


(Originally posted March, 7, 2010)

Back in the early 1940s the WPA Writers’ Project worked on a guidebook to Milwaukee similar to others in many major cities across the land. It was an extensive project which was extremely well researched and was ready for publication in early 1941. Unfortunately due to political reasons, the guide was never published and remains hidden in archives in the Library of Congress and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Although there is a labor and union related slant to the writing of the article, this was the prevailing attitude of Milwaukee at the time.

A WPA Guide to Wisconsin was finished and published at the same time and was most recently reprinted in 2006. I am not sure if it had some of the same problems as the Milwaukee Guide.

The following is a portion of the research I have found relating to this project. The Wisconsin State Historical Society and also the Library of Congress both have manuscripts of the guide. Both libraries have slightly varied files relating to the project and both are worth viewing if you want to learn more.

This is a small excerpt from the guide:


North Section

From the downtown section of the city of Milwaukee northward, State 42 is a most interesting and scenic drive. The ever cool waters of Lake Michigan and the city’s finest homes in beautifully landscaped settings are the chief attractions. The present highway follows the general direction of an old Indian trail -which ran from Milwaukee to the Chippewa village at Saukville, thence to the south of the Sheboygan River and Manitowoc Rapids and from the latter, northwest to Green Bay.

This article included with the file in the Wisconsin Historical Society archives explains the history of the Guide. Susan Drew, mentioned in the article, is highlighted in this article from the Milwaukee Journal of August 2, 1942..

Note on the Milwaukee Guide.

Three copies of the Milwaukee Guide, prepared by the Milwaukee unit of the Federal Writers’ Project, are deposited here. This book was not published.

A committee appointed by the Milwaukee County Board, co-sponsor of the Guide, was incited by a member of that committee, Miss Susan Drew, to consider the book “too socialistic.” During several months in 1940 the committee met with the state and local supervisors of the project to read through the essays. (The appended clipping from the Milwaukee Journal will give some notion of the kind of thing discussed at the meetings.) At the final meeting, in the spring of 1941, the committee, with the exception of Miss Drew, considered the material satisfactory and empowered the state supervisor to negotiate with publishers for a contract that would allow the county board to publish the book with no expense to it. In January, 1942, a contract was received from Durrell and Smith, a New York publishing house, who wished to publish the book at what would have been very little cost to the co-sponsor. By that time the war was on, and before the committee could meet to consider the contract the project was suspended.

An excerpt from the Guide showing some of the socialistic slant in the writing is shown below. An understanding of Milwaukee during this time is important. This was a very industrial city comprised of many industrial workers who fought hard and somewhat violent struggles for rights we take for granted today. Milwaukee still takes pride in being a city of the working class and it seems right to write its history with that in mind. The economic problems that led to the WPA were fresh in the mind of these writers and they were addressed in these essays.

Milwaukee is not without its great fortunes and its great families who exert a certain degree of economic control over its citizens. But, although many of the city’s industrial establishments were founded only a generation or so ago by mechanics and laborers, Milwaukee has shared in the national swing away from local and individual to corporate and absentee ownership. Few factories are left wherein a shirt-sleeved owner-boss can call each employee by name and be addressed in turn as “Ed” or “Charley”. Some industrialists still insist that their sons should “start from the bottom up” to learn the family business, but this custom is coming to be regarded more and more as a gesture. Milwaukee society revolves on its own axis, spinning farther and farther away from the daily life lived by the majority of the citizens residents.

Milwaukee’s rich people make little ostentatious displays of wealth, perhaps because their tastes do not incline that way, perhaps because many of their fellow Milwaukeeans find such display irresistibly comic rather than impressive. The occasional hunt club “drags,” hunts after non-existent foxes, which are given serious attention by society editors, are often hailed with glee by Milwaukee newspaper columnists as an opportunity for humorous articles. The average Milwaukee resident heartily enjoys these, chuckling at a description of grown men and women dressing up in pink coats and caroling “Yoicks!” Recent publication of a local Social Register also was the subject for reportorial facetiousness. Tails and top-hats are not so common at the concert or the theater but that necks are craned at their appearance; there are few places here, with the exception of two or three exclusive clubs and some private homes, where evening dress does not render its wearer mildly conspicuous.

Here are a few news articles explaining the project and the issues that it had:

Milwaukee Journal, December 8, 1935

WPA Gives Us Big Write-up

2,500,000 Words About Milwaukee Is Goal; Jobs for Editors

In an obscure mezzanine floor room of the courthouse, which the visitor reaches only after getting elaborate directions, a score of men and women are agthering material on the flora and fauna, the topography and the archeology of Milwaukee.

This is the nucleus of the Milwaukee district of the federal writers’ project of the works project administration (WPA). The staff, under the direction of Victor S. Craun, who has distinguished himself by his explorations of the country’s caves, will soon be enlarged to 50. The Milwaukee district will have $56,000 to spend.

In six or eight months the Milwaukee “writers” will have turned out about 2,500,000 words about Milwaukee. They will explore every conceivable phase of the community’s history and physical make-up. Editors in the courthouse office will cut the number of words to 100,000 and ship them to the state headquarters at Madison, where more editors will trim Milwaukee’s contribution to about 20,000 words.

Data for a United States Guide

Editors in the national headquarters in Washington will use their blue pencils and there will be about 8,000 words left at $7 a word – not counting costs of editing in Madison and Washington. Then government printers will be ready to publish the American Guide, in five regional volumes and on a non-commercial basis. These volumes will be filed in libraries and educational institutions for reference. Material which does not find its way to the national headquarters will be saved by the state and local offices.

District offices are being set up in 10 Wisconsin cities and by the end of this week the state organization will be completed. The entire state project will employ 100 persons. Benjamin Saunders, Madison, state writers’ director, was in Milwaukee Saturday interviewing candidates for jobs as “editors.”

One of the applicants was a former Progressive candidate for the assembly. He asked the reporter not to mention the fact he was applying for a job.

“It seems that Progressives aren’t supposed to get any WPA jobs,” he lamented.

Jobs for Communists

Some of the Progressives, Democrats and Republicans who have made vain attempts to qualify as “writers” seems hurt because jobs have been given instead to communists. A total of 150 persons were interviewed for jobs. Particular resentment was expressed by members of “capitalistic” political parties over the appointment by WPA authorities of Farrell Schnering, communist leader, to a position as a writer at $100 a month. Schnering once ran for attorney general on the communist ticket and has been editor of the Voice of Labor, communist state paper, and Milwaukee correspondent for the Daily Worker, national communist daily.

Just now Schnering is working on a collection of Indian pipes at the museum. Saunders doesn’t believe that there is a possibility of getting any communistic propaganda into a treatise on Indian pipes.

“We’re not concerned with politics in this program,” said Saunders, who left the University of Wisconsin, where he taught English and economics, to take charge of the writers’ project. “To work on our project a person must be qualified. That is the only consideration.”

Radical Blocks Radical

Another communist on the local project is Robert Collentine, who was fined in the district court last month for his part in the anti-fascist demonstration outside the office of Angelo Cerminara, Italian consular agent. Collentine is an “enumerator” and gets 90 capitalistic dollars a month.

Two other active communists, Harold Hartley and Carroll Blair, sought writers’ jobs but failed to connect. Blair, the former Zona Gale scholar at the late experimental college of the University of Wisconsin, was considered qualified but he lost his chance at a $100 a month job when Schnering reported that Blair was a “trouble maker.” As a result Blair had to take a job at the common labor rate of $60 a month.

Craun told his communistic workers that he didn’t care what they did after working hours, but that he expected them to attend to WPA business while on the job. Since the writers’ hours are soon to be cut from 140 to 96 hours a month, with no change in pay, Schnering and Collentine will still have plenty of time for outside activity.

Called Research Project

Saunders, who is confident the writers’ project will be of social value, emphasized that it is essentially a “research” project. He said Charles D. Stewart, Hartford (Wis.) writer, failed to recognize this distinction in writing letter to Charles E. Brown a week ago stating his reasons for not serving as a consultant on the project.

“Mr. Stewart apparently wasn’t thinking of the many years he had to struggle to achieve success as a writer,” Saunders asserted.

“We don’t expect to train people to write but we will use their writing ability as much as possible. These young people need a chance. They must do something. We can’t line them up against a wall and shoot them just because they haven’t jobs.”

Persons in charge of the project believe it will develop into a permanent institution.

Milwaukee Journal, April 26, 1941

WPA Writers’ Project, Dying, Finds No Friend

The WPA writers’ project will be scuttled by the county board, it was strongly indicated at a meeting of the board’s WPA committee Saturday.

The project produced the unpublished Milwaukee Guide, which has been sharply criticized as containing “Socialist propaganda.”

The committee had before it a letter from Mrs. Sam Corr, a WPA inspector, asking that the board renew its sponsorship of the writers’ project. Mrs. Corr said that the project has funds to continue only 10 days. The county only provides space, heat and light for the project, but the county must sponsor the project before it is given federal Funds. Mrs. Corr said that a federal appropriation of $46,671 was needed to continue the project another year.

“Left a Bad Taste”

Supervisor Eugene Warnimont started the debate on Mrs. Corr’s request by saying: “I don’t know whether we ought to sponsor the project any longer. This Milwaukee Guide left a bad taste in my mouth.”

Other committeemen nodded their heads, apparently in agreement, and no one arose to defend the project.

The committee decided to defer action on the proposal until a report could be obtained from the special county board committee, created a year ago, to study the Milwaukee Guide. The WPA committee said that it would like to know what the special committee has found out, and what recommendation, if any, it has to make.

Publication Is Opposed

The Guide, it was learned, recently wax approved for publication by WPA authorities at Washington, D. C. However, the county board must appropriate $7,500 for the publication if the book is to be issued for public sale. Opposition to the book has arisen among the supervisors, and it is considered doubtful whether an appropriation will be voted.

The writers’ project was set up about five years ago. The project at present gives employment to 30 persons. The new setup, if approved, would give employment to 42 persons.

Do You Remember?


This is another article in the series written by Frederic Heath in the Milwaukee Leader newspaper during 1920-1921.


The map below shows a red dot from where the photo was taken, looking north across the river. To the left of the dot is the original Reed Street Union Depot. Some of the street names have obviously been changed: Reed Street is South 2nd Street, Lake Street is Pittsburgh Avenue

The Milwaukee Leader – June 1, 1920

Do You Remember?

By Frederic Heath

Thanks to an early day fire we have the accompanying view of the old Axtell house and the old Walker’s Point wooden bridge. The fire gutted the buildings west of the old hotel and even caught on the hotel cornice, but damaged it but slightly. It was quite the habit for photographers to get to work in those days when there had been a fire, hence the picture.

The hotel center of Milwaukee has moved about a good deal since the earliest days. When the few who visited the town came over the trails the hotels were confined principally to the east and west sides: that is, there was the original Cottage Inn on East Water St., the Bellevue house, at Broadway and Wisconsin Sts., and the Cabbage Hollow house on the east side, all situated close by the end of the Sauk Trail, and the American House, formerly Tavern, over in Kilbourntown.

When steamers and schooners began to bring settlers and merchandise, and finally when piers were run out in the lake to save transferring the cargoes and passengers to little tow boats, Huron St. was the big street and the east side had the hotel monopoly. This died away when the railroads came in – or were “built out” from Milwaukee – and the depots were located principally on the south side. The histories of the day refer to the Axtell house as the “favorite hotel with the traveling public” and there were numerous other south side establishments.

The Axtell was built in 1860 and was enlarged in 1872. It was built by William Axtell. He had been the manager of the Clinton house, then the big south side hotel, and later went to California for his health. On returning, he joined with Richard B. Ricketson in conducting the Cream City house at Ferry and South Water Sts. Meantime he erected the Axtell Blk., diagonally across the corner, and when the Cream City was unable to accommodate its entire patronage he turned the new block into a hotel. The Cream City afterward became the Ricketson house.

When the union depot was relocated on the west side, the south side hotels withered up like mushrooms, and today there is hardly a vestage left. The row of small hotels across from the old depot on Reed St. have been wiped out of existence and replaced by cold storage and agricultural implement buildings. The life and bustle of Reed St. is gone. The old Lake house on Lake St., is no more and the old Metropolitan on Hanover and Florida Sts., was long ago turned into a railway men’s YMCA.

The Cabbage Hollow house referred to was as unpretentious as it was early. Cabbage Hollow was, as its name implies, not a gully. It was a gentle depression that deepened as it approached the river and reached level ground at about the middle of Jefferson St., between Biddle and Martin. The origin of its name would appear to be obvious.

Prospect Avenue Mansions Lecture

March 27, 2014
Charles Allis Art Museum
1801 North Prospect Ave

A look at the magnificent mansions of Milwaukee’s Prospect Avenue and the stories they tell. Rare historical photographs presented by Pabst Mansion Senior Historian, John Eastberg, with lively discussion that is sure to follow. Hosted by the Charles Allis Art Museum, one of the great Prospect Avenue mansions. Advance tickets only, $15 per person.


Pabst Blue Ribbon Ad 1914

In the early 20th century advertisers tried to make Pabst seem as glamorous as possible by using beautiful women gently hoisting a stein. It’s a long way from current ad campaigns branding it as the beer for tattooed hipsters. What makes it interesting is that this is about the time when Prohibitionists were out in force working on the demise of all alcohol. The brewery industry needed to portray a gentle, upper-class view of beer to offset the base degradation usually painted by the Prohibitionists.

From the Milwaukee Sentinel, January 1, 1914.


Recently Discovered Blogs

There a always a few good blogs on Milwaukee history that pop up every now and then. Some, unfortunately stay active for awhile and then become inactive but there are some which manage to keep going. Oldmilwaukee has managed to stay active since 2007 with only a few periods of darkness.

These are some which I have found recently and thought I’d share them with my readers.

The Milwaukee Polonia Project has been going strong since 2011 and although it deals primarily with Polish geneology, it has many historical articles that shed light on the difficulties of pioneer Poles.

Milwaukee Mafia History has been going for the past few years and tells many interesting stories about the mob in Milwaukee. Daniel Bridger has many interesting experiences to tell and this site is worth reading.

Mid Century Modern is a blog for architectural buffs and I think it is still active. It deals with modern architects and their works in the Milwaukee area.

Milwaukee’s Lost Boulevards is an interesting website that shows a history of something many people haven’t realized that we have lost. Up until recent budget cuts have hit Milwaukee’s city departments hard, boulevards were centers of beauty with large raised bed flower gardens. Most of these have been lost although a few, planted mostly with perennials remain. Looking at the Past and Present section makes readers yearn for the lost beauty.

Hustle Bikers 1947

Motorcycle rallies have been going on for probably as long as there have been motorcycles. This article from 1947 seems to typify a tradition that has since grown ever more popular.

Even back then women were very active and there were quite a few profiled in this story. One woman from Racine shown in the picture was Phyllis Nelson who can be seen with her jacket emblazoned with the Motor Maids of America logo, a group which was founded a dozen or so years earlier.

Milwaukee Journal, July 6, 1947

Hustle Bikers


An unusual “bird” is the motorcyclist. The common species of handlebar jockey travels in packs, dresses alike and is an extrovert. His is a cult that thrives on speed and noise and doesn’t give a hang who knows they’re having a wonderful time.

These gregarious folks of the high speed bikes like nothing better than an outing. Every Sunday and holiday they are on the road, heading for fun in “follow the leader” order. Usually the trip ends in a field or at a hill where impromptu races and climbs are staged. Occasionally there is a bigger event, such as the gypsy tour and rally held recently at Sturgeon Bay, Wis. These pictures were made there. The outing lasted two days and hundreds of cyclists roared in for the fun. The program opened with contests, switched to a dance at night time, a Door county tour the next morning and a windup race meeting.

Now being a hustle biker calls for more than the ability to handle the machine.You have to know the language and the hangouts and enjoy both. Besides, you must acquire a wardrobe. Look to the left and see Phyllis (Butch) Nelson of Racine, who rides her own motorcycle. She displays the riding outfits she brought to the rally. they pack into the two small cases before her which are strapped to the carrier of her cycle. Her rain suit, cosmetics and other accessories are carried in the saddle bag all cyclists have on their machines. One reason for the many changes is indicated by the muddy outfit Butch holds. the dirt was acquired on the ride from Racine to Sturgeon Bay.




Pictured here is John E. Harley, the son of the one of the founders of Harley-Davidson, William Harley.

Oswald Jaeger Bakery

A year and a half ago, there was a short article on the Razed in Milwaukee blog about the Oswald Jaeger Bakery buildings which still exist hidden away on 9th & Somers. Megan Daniels gives a great history of the bakery and buildings on the blog. The following picture from the OldMilwaukee.net collection shows a view of the bakery from the late 1920s. Interestingly, the same buildings are shown in the modern view, albeit not completely whitewashed.



Milwaukee’s Gilded Age

Milwaukee has had a long history of political struggle between various groups of haves and have nots. Opposing groups have always had battles to fight, some bloody and others simply fought in the voting booths. There have been periods of peace but overall those have been few. Historian Greg Afinoguenov, wrote this paper a few years ago dissecting and analyzing the city’s political history in a nutshell. It is an interesting read and gives a fresh perspective on some issues we still wrestle with.

Milwaukee’s Gilded Age and Aftermath


The Deadly Saloon of 1905

Reading this piece of journalism from 1905 at face value gives a grim view of vice in Milwaukee. Looking back at the view the writer paints from today’s more permissive perspective makes his picture seem misrepresented. Some of the things “seen” at the saloon are obvious urban legends and symbols instead of real eye-witness accounts. It’s hard to believe anyone would seriously think children’s marbles would lead to a life of gambling or that coin-operated player pianos playing rag-time music were emblematic of the road to sin. The article continues to use almost every logical fallacy that exists in its argument to sway the reader.

Vice and crime had been a well-known part of downtown and the near south side for many decades prior to this. Areas of the fifth ward were written of as a “tenderloin district” in late 19th century news articles where even police would never go alone.

There are a few interesting things in the article that may need some explanation. The mention of the “arc light” refers to a short period after gas street lights were being replaced by electric lights. One experimental light source that was being tried around the country was the “arc light”. Milwaukee installed a few of these downtown and they were hung above the middle of an intersection by wires. The light was very bright, almost as strong as daylight. The down side was that the carbon filaments would have to be changed often. Once incandescent lights became more available and bright enough, they swiftly replaced arc lights.

The streets mentioned at the beginning of the article may be unfamiliar to some. Johnson Street is now East Highland Avenue and Oneida Street is now East Wells Street. Today’s popular Water Street bar area is a direct descendent of the old red light district.

The quote,”Milwaukeeans reluctantly accept the word of their worthy executive when he assures them that the district must be preserved to decrease crime,” refers to Mayor David Rose, whom some may have heard was soft on the enforcement of the red light district. Interestingly, his ideas had some merit. The push for national Prohibition many years later and strong enforcement of those laws through the 1920s ended up creating a huge organized crime network which caused many problems in Milwaukee and around the country.

The article below is from the Milwaukee Free Press of February 19, 1905.


It lies almost in the shadow of the city hall, within whose stately home walls sit men sworn to enforce the laws of the municipality, and others whose duty it is to dispense justice in accordance with the laws.

It is repugnant to many, this “Red Light” district, so called, with this whispered but unwritten stories of vice and of numberless men and women ruined through its influence. But the objection is of a passive sort. Milwaukeeans reluctantly accept the word of their worthy executive when he assures them that the district must be preserved to decrease crime.

For whatever reason it is allowed to exist, or encouraged to remain, the fact is indisputable that it is there. Its limits are not absolutely fixed, but in a general way it extends along the east river shore from Oneida street to Knapp street, on intersecting streets to East Water street, and in some instances Market street, and on East Water street from the city hall to Johnson street.

The outsides of its temples are there for the inspection of all. Children on their way to school look wonderingly at them. Mothers hurry past, amazed at the city’s shame. School boys, old enough to realize the conditions to some extent, smile knowingly at each other in secret. Half frightened at the thought, they plan to know more of the secrets within the walls when they are older.

As the first false step of the future gambler is often the simple game of marbles “for keeps,” so the comparatively innocent saloons on the outskirts of this district offer the first attraction to the curious youth of the city.

A cold winter night. The wind sweeps down the almost empty street. The arc lights send their bluish radiance to the pavement below, and it glints along the ice bordered car tracks. The creak and crackle of the trodden snow on the sidewalk beneath the feet of the lonely patrolman on his beat, tells as well as a thermometer of the bitter, biting cold.

At frequent intervals along the street, shafts of yellow light shoot out from half-curtained windows. From the bar rooms beyond the protecting glass, come sounds of music and maudlin laughter. Occasionally is heard the noise of voices raised in anger and then a loud commanding ejaculation that causes the arguments to cease.

It is in these places that men not unknown to the social and business world stand elbow to elbow with gamblers and others who have spent weary weeks in jail and prison; here, also beardless boys assume an air of wisdom to discuss the latest news of track and ring – with red eyed, bloated beings sunk deep in the dragging mire of dissipation.

Across the room from the polished bar and artistically adorned mirror with its border of sparkling glasses, back of the tables at which men talk in low voices or nod it drowsily over a half filled glass, is a piano with slot machine attachment. A nickel dropped within the opening will cause it to disgorge a stream of lively “rag time.”

White coated bartenders hurry from one group to another with the dripping trays. They smile appreciatively as a man announces that he has won the dice game and his companion must buy the drinks. Occasionally, in answer to the buzzing call from the annunciator near the huge refrigerator, one hurries behind through the swinging doors at the rear of the room.

Beyond them lies the leather seated stalls and wine rooms. They may be reached from the streets by the “Ladies’ Entrance.” Both sexes may gather here without causing comment. It is the primary evil that supplies victims for that inner section of the “Red Light” district where morality is forgotten and degradation and degeneracy in its worst sense, holds sway.

Within the confines of these wine rooms may be studied the story of the downfall of women and the degradation of men in every stage. The innocent and tempted girl, the reckless boy, the abandoned woman – all are there.

Merry voices are heard outside the street door. There is a momentary hush, and then it swings open to admit a party of four people. They are two modest appearing girls clinging to the arms of their escorts. The men are well dressed. Their companions might have been students or clerks.

Looking about, startled, they hesitate again. Then, with downcast eyes, they hasten into the protection of a curtained booth. In response to the waiter’s query, they laugh in an embarrassed manner, communicate with their eyes, and order beer.

“You had better try a cocktail,” says one of the men with a smile. “They will do you good after the cold weather outside. Bring us four Manhattans,” he concludes, turning to the man with the tray.

Even as they talk, there comes a sound of a maudlin feminine chuckle from the next stall. Within its confines a boy, anxious to prove himself a “good fellow” had taken a chance acquaintance and bought her drinks. Unfortunately for him, she was more accustomed to them than the purchaser. He now lay back in his chair, his head lolling against the wall behind him, and the labored but regular breathing showed him unconscious from the sleep of intoxication. As he sat there, his companion leaned across the table and reached in his pocket. Pulling out a handful of bills, constituting his month’s salary, she removed three or four and place them inside her waist. The remainder were returned.

The work done, she looks again at the unconscious figure and laughs. Then she spreads the curtains and steps out, leaving him to sleep until employees come to order him out. To the street she goes in search of another victim.

In a large room, more secluded than the little stalls, there sit a party of women. Their gaudy furs and wide-plumed hats are tossed aside and there are disclosed the painted faces, blackened eyebrows and bleached hair that so often marks the members of their trade.

“Send in some good fellows,” one remarks to the waiter, as she slips over a generous tip in addition to the price of the four drinks before them. “Pick out somebody that looks as if they have the money to burn and wanted to get an assistant fireman.”

The white coated man grins.

“Alright sis,” he remarks. “There’s three lovely ones out here. They are home from some boarding school and I guess they just got their next installment to carry them through the spring term from the way they act. If they are satisfactory, I will come in later and take a drink on you.”

Suiting the action to his words, he soon returns with the group from the bar room. They enter the wine room. The door is closed, and another incident of the evening has begun to be enacted.

The sound of carriage wheels is heard on the pavement. They come to a stop. Two figures emerge and hurry to the dark doorway. One is a typical sport. His small shifty eyes are set in a face not unhandsome; his evening clothes are immaculate; his conversation is that of one accustomed to talking. His companion is a woman who is known as a prominent figure in a middle-class social set. Her husband is not the man at her side.

Muffled in furs, her face is barely discernible. As the couple enters the building and proceeds to the half-concealed table, an intimate friend might have passed her and not recognized her. She is one of those females of the Jekyl and Hyde class, who may be seen in every city. Fortunately for society, they are not frequent in this.

Through the early hours of the morning they sat talking in low whispers. Occasionally the arrival of another drink disturbs the talk, but it is resumed again. This subject is not to be learned by outsiders. Then, as quietly as they came, they hurry out of the door, resume their places in the carriage and are driven rapidly away.

Many and varied are the saloons in this “Red Light” district.

Here may be seen the Bohemian “bier stube,” with its female bartender and quaint musicians dispensing harmony from instruments still more quaint. Yonder is a negro hang-out, where the casual visitor is greeted something after this fashion: “Beer? Yes sir. Ever shoot craps? Or play poker? There’s a good, square game in the back room there. Better take a chance. Nothing risked, nothing won. Shoot a dime, shoot a quarter, take a stack of chips – any way to double your money. Be game. Take a chance. No? Well come again, sir.”

Interspersed with these resorts whose character forbids even a cursory descriptions are the immoral saloons of still lower class class with their upper rooms in which men are lured by gaudy, painted creatures who barter their very souls for the gold that is later spent in riotous celebration. Here are women who perhaps, are engaged in respectable occupations for a portion of the day, and who spend their nights in occupations that lead them to forget their church, friends, family – all.

This blot on Milwaukee’s map is not large in its area. But in every paving stone, on every sidewalk flagging, on every doorstep is written the history of bodies weakened and destroyed, of minds undermined and ruined, or souls degenerated and lost.

Necessary? Aye, it may be. But to those who advocate the theory, let the question be put of the manner in which they would accept the news of the presence there of sister, brother, son, or wife.

Unavoidable? Perhaps. But why should the cost be paid in the souls and bodies and lives of others’ families instead of the families of those who argue that mankind’s weaknesses should be accepted “reasonably,” instead of being overcome and prevented?

The night wanes. The hands of the great clock in the lofty tower have swung around the dial and the five booming strokes of the melodious bell mark the approach of sunrise.

Down the snow-covered walks men stagger, singly or in groups. Cab drivers query passers-by in the hope of a final “fare.” Two women walk with uncertain gait toward their homes. Their escorts have deserted them. Physical weariness, aching heads, mental disgust – these alone are left to remind them of the night of “pleasure.”

In the bar rooms, the cash is counted carefully and the rolls of bills and glittering heaps of silver show the tribute of Milwaukee to the great god of Bacchus – in his temples in the “Red Light” district.

Police Horse Squad Retired – September 18, 1936

Although police horses have been put back into service since 1996, there was a long period of time when they were removed from service. That happened in 1936 as this Milwaukee Journal article tells. The horse patrols actually managed to survive another 12 years after a referendum allowed them to stay. See the Milwaukee Police Mounted Patrol website for more pictures, including a better one of the picture shown in the newspaper below.

Milwaukee Journal, September 18, 1936

Attachments built up between Milwaukee’s mounted police officers and their mounts — Tom, Buster, Jerry, Lucky, Buddy and Jerry — were broken Friday by the sudden order discontinuing mounted police.

The hordes went back to their stables at 1226 N. Fourth st. and the officers, Warren Fidlin, William Huebner, George Williams, Domonic Ozzello, Elmer Fischer, Joseph Botton and Clement Stapleford, went back to traffic duty on foot.

The change was so sudden that the officers couldn’t say a word. They wouldn’t have said anything anyway, under the rules of discipline. But the order brought pangs in parting with their dumb friends.

Public Loses Friends

To hundreds of persons who pass through the busy downtown district the absence of the police horses will mean the loss of friends. Folks used to stop to pat the horses and feed them a lump of sugar or a carrot.

What other kind of work the horses could do is a problem, for they are more at home among clanking street cars, rumbling trucks, busy automobile traffic and hurrying crowds than in a field of green grass.

The intelligence and devotion of the horses have been a source of never ending wonder to downtown crowds. When an officer dismounted to make an arrest or do some other bit of routine police work the horse would stand quietly at the curb. In the years they have been on the streets only one black mark has been written against the six.

One horse bit a boy, according to a complaint now before the courts.

Bud, 14, oldest horse of the six, once gave an example of devotion to duty. Williams, the rider, was riding west on Wisconsin av. at noon and the horse was headed for his noonday oats. At the Plankinton building there was a cry about a pickpocket and Williams hurried into the building. He came back to the curb half an hour later, expecting that the horse had followed tht routine lunch time trip, but there stood Bud, patiently waiting.

Buster, Huebner’s mount, is a strictly “one-man” horse. He was slow to make friends and stood indifferent as persons stopped to pat him. When an old friend would approach from Commission Row with a tasty carrot or bite of apple his ears quickly stood up in recognition. Buster had a sweet tooth, too. There was a candy factory on bis beat and when he got hungry he would saunter in that direction as a hint to Huebner.

One a Prankster

Tom, an 11-year-old, was the mischievous fellow of the lot. Once he reached over and took a parcel in his mouth from a woman shopper. He lifted his head out of reach and seemed to enjoy teasing the woman. When Fidlin scolded him he gave the package back with hasty meekness.

Jerry was the beggar. If a person approached he would scent a lump of sugar or piece of candy and gently nudge the prospective giver. He frequently lifted his front foot as if to shake hands.