Postcards: Wisconsin Street, looking East from Grand Avenue Bridge, Milwaukee

This postcard on top is postmarked 1910 and the one on the bottom is dated 1907. They show the view looking east on what is now Wisconsin Avenue from the east and west side of the bridge over the Milwaukee River. In this era, this route was known as Wisconsin Street east of the river and Grand Avenue west.

On the far right of the top postcard is the Iron Block (or Excelsior Block) Building, and rising behind it the Railway Exchange Building. In the distance, on the right, you can see the tower of the Federal Building. All three of these historic buildings still stand on the south side of Wisconsin Avenue.

On the lower postcard, the red building on the far right is the Mack building. It housed the Golden Eagle Clothing Store in its early years and the Marine Bank before it was razed to make way for Marine Bank tower (which is now Chase Tower). It was built in 1882 and demolished in 1959.

On the left is the Pabst Building. From this vantage point, you can see the lovely stone archway that preservationists unsuccessfully tried to save when the building was razed.

On the left, with the “Free Press” sign, is a building that was first known as the Insurance Building, later the Free Press Building, and finally the Broadway Building. It was built in 1870 and got its first name because it was Northwestern Mutual Life’s first Milwaukee office (after the company moved from Janesville). In 1885, the insurance firm moved one block south, to a building on the northwest corner of Broadway and Michigan.

The Broadway Building was one of the first buildings in Milwaukee to have elevators. It was also one of the first places where the new typewriter was given a trial, but Northwestern Mutual president H. L. Palmer rejected the innovation. Over the years, the character of the building changed quite a bit, as you can see from historic photos. It originally had a Mansard roof and a great deal of detail on the upper floors. In 1901, a fire partially destroyed the Mansard roof, and when the top floor was rebuilt, much of the detail was lost. In 1940, the six-story building was cut down to two floors, which were used for retail. Then, in 1965, the building was finally razed.

Behind the Broadway Building is the Wells Building, a 15-story structure with a white terra cotta brick exterior. It was built in 1901 and still stands today, although the ornate cornice work on the top floor was later removed due to deterioration and replaced with plain brick. The century-old building may not look it, but it’s a telecommunications hub for Milwaukee, and more than 30 carriers lease space here for data and voice gear.



PLUS Code: 23QR+C4 Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Approximate Google Street view today:

Thanksgiving Day in Milwaukee for 75 years Told by Newspaper Files


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day! This was an article from the Milwaukee Free Press newspaper of 1910 which told many stories from 19th century papers, a few of which I reproduce here. The Free Press existed from 1901 until about 1918.

Milwaukee Free Press, Thursday, November 24, 1910

Thanksgiving Day in Milwaukee for 75 years Told by Newspaper Files

By Lucy E. Strong

Thanksgiving Day is an American institution, distinctively. There is none more American, not excepting the Indian or baseball.

And while baseball may have as firm a hold -almost- upon the nation as has Thanksgiving Day, it has not the dignity which a long, long, long, tried and true affection gives to Thanksgiving Day.

Since 1621, when Governor Bradford of the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed the first Thanksgiving feast, turkeys and pumpkin pies, nuts, apples, mince pies and native wines have been consumed in festive quantities and prayers of thanksgiving have been offered once every year lest the people of this broad land forget the bounteous provision for them by the Father of us all.

The piece de resistance of that first communal celebration of Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, when all the village gathered about one banquet board, was, perforce, turkey, and wild turkey at that, for no other meat was so easily obtainable. This primitive bird established himself on that occasion, nearly three hundred years ago as the bird of birds for the Thanksgiving feast, and to his barnyard descendants he has bequethed the proud distinction.

But while the custom of giving thanks for the blessings of the year prevailed in the early colonies it did not rapidly spread to other districts of the United States. So late as the 50’s Milwaukee papers are printed without any reference to a Thanksgiving proclamation or celebration and no notice is made of any church services or other events to differentiate the last Thursday of November from other days. But in the past half century the day has become better established as a national holiday with each succeeding observance and now it would be hard indeed to wean this nation from its custom, which has made the day pre-eminently one of family reunions and of pleasures, and although the religious observance is not so generally emphasized as in the past, still congregations of goodly size gather in the different churches.
In the 1860 Thanksgiving newspapers, mention was made of an ovation given Carl Schurz, upon his return to Milwaukee from a political campaign conducted in Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York.

A copy of November 27th, 1861 issue of a Milwaukee tri-weekly sheet, puts in agate all of its Thanksgiving “stuff”, which consisted of the proclamation of Governor Alexander W. Randall; everything else was seemingly crowded out by the war stories, given under such heads as “Fort Pickens Opens Fire on the Rebels!” “Bragg Take the Bombardment Coolly!” “Warrington Burned on the First Day!” “The Cause of Blenker’s Resignation Made Known!” “General McClellan Censures Him!” The next succeeding issue prints a front page story of a Thanksgiving function, described as “a public assemblage held in the Newhall house,” at which Judge John F. Potter, who was passing through Milwaukee en route for Washington D.C. to enter congress, made a speech.

In the editorial printed the next year on Thanksgiving, November 27, 1862 a portion reads: “We have two distinctly American holidays, Thanksgiving and July 4th.

“The one calls out universal jollification, shouting, hurrahs and the noise of gunpowder; the other gathers together the scattered members of families to unite in devotion.”

Still no mention of the day being set aside for football or theater is found.

In 1865 the first suggestion of Thanksgiving “sports” crept into the newspaper columns. The paper told the story of a race on the festive day between the tug “Muir” and the tub “Tifft” being respectively the property of Captain Porter and Henry Starkey.

An item in this issue from the “Associated Press reporter” says there is no doubt a law will pass congress enabling heirs of soldiers who died in southern prisons to collect commutations for rations during the time the deceased soldiers were confined in the prisons.”