Wicked Milwaukee Book

Wicked Milwaukee will be hitting the bookstores and online retailers starting tomorrow, October 8th. This has been about a year in the making and will feature ten chapters about the wicked history of the city. The chapters will explore the history of the red light district, the Whiskey Ring, speakeasies, communists, opium dens, policy gambling, and more. This will give an entertaining history of some of the people you may have never heard of.

I will start the publication day with an interview on WTMJ 4’s The Morning Blend so tune in to get a glimpse. There also will be several events and book signings including on October 31st at Brew City at the entrance to the Grand Avenue Mall and November 5th at Historic Milwaukee. I’ll see you then!

Milwaukee Public Library Video Screening – 1984 Open Housing Interview

18258_CentennialHall_OpenHousing.inddThe Milwaukee Public Library will have a screening of when James Groppi, Vel Phillips and William Tisdale (Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council) were interviewed on a 1984 Public Conference Open Housing Marches and Ordinance retrospective.
Public Conference was MPL’s weekly public affairs show on TV6 from 1956 to 1985.  Retired librarian and Public Conference moderator Richard Swearingen will briefly share his memories of interviewing Groppi and Phillips.
Register online or call Ready Reference at ATlantic6-3011 (286-3011).  If the attached flyer doesn’t open, here’s the program info.
James Groppi & Vel Phillips Open Housing Interview
Saturday, July 7th, 2:00 p.m.
Centennial Hall Loos Room
733 N. 8th St.
Free street parking on Saturday, but time limits apply (most spots are 2 hrs.).

Architectural Terra Cotta of Milwaukee County

cover-image_2_origAdd this book release to your calendar at the end of May. Artist and architectural historian, Ben Tyjeski has put together this exhaustive catalog of the history of architectural terra-cotta in Milwaukee. The book is an amazing work showcasing examples of the art of ceramics used in local buildings over the last one hundred plus years.

Book Release: *Architectural Terra Cotta of Milwaukee County* by Ben Tyjeski
Thursday, May 31, 5-7pm
Var Gallery
643 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204

Architectural Terra Cotta of Milwaukee County is a well documented and researched survey of some 480 buildings that featured architectural terra cotta in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.  The nearly 200 detailed descriptions of buildings discuss ornamental motifs, trends in design, and the development of surfaces and glaze.  In addition, this book covers the manufacturers and architects who were involved.  It also deals with the significance terra cotta had in the trade of building materials, concerns with preservation, and perspectives on its use in contemporary designs. Accompanying the text are over 350 colored photographs to marvel.

Book will be available to purchase for $59.95.
Limited quantity available.

Milwaukee Public Library Historic Menus Digital Collection

Everyone has a favorite restaurant they remember from the past. If you could look back at the old menu it would take you back to those favorite memories of eating there and other happy thoughts that take you back to a special time. This was what the Milwaukee Public Library has done with its latest digital collection. This unique collection includes Milwaukee-area menus from the early 1900s up to the present.

The Historic Menus digital collection includes a variety of menus from the Milwaukee area from the early twentieth century to the present. The physical menus are part of the Local History Pamphlet Collection in the Humanities Department. There are menus from special events, beer gardens, and many different types of restaurants. Many of the menus included here were collected by Milwaukee Public Library staff members, who likely used them to get takeout lunches when they were working. Other menus were donated or collected specifically for the pamphlet collection.

See the Historic Menus Digital Collection here!

Also, if you stop by the Central Library between now and March 18th, look at the displays on the 2nd floor outside the Humanities Room to see some of the menus from the collection.


70th Anniversary of the 1947 Blizzard

Stop by the Central Library between now and February 11th to see the exhibit on the famous 1947 blizzard. The display is on the 2nd floor near the Frank Zeidler Humanities Room and includes photographs, newspaper articles, and other mementos from the Library’s collections.

It’s a Wonderful Life was playing at the 3,000 seat Alhambra Theater in Downtown on January 28th, 1947. Paperboys delivered The Milwaukee Journal after school. The front page carried the U.S. Weather Bureau (renamed National Weather Service in 1970) forecast of “an inch or so of snow” for Wednesday, January 29th.

City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) Bureau of Street Sanitation employees started work at 7:00 p.m. as a light snowfall began and prepared for late evening and overnight street sanding. The light snowfall ended about 2:45 a.m., which led sanitation supervisors to conclude that this was the forecasted inch of snow. They decided not to mount plows on garbage trucks and sent them on their morning ash (coal) and rubbish collection.

It started to snow about 8:30 a.m. as people went to work and children walked to school. By 10:00 a.m., it was obviously a blizzard with thunder snow and wind gusting up to 60 m.p.h. After street sanding and ash and garbage pickup for 17 hours, DPW workers were sent home at Noon to rest and told to return for 10:00 p.m. snow plowing. Most wouldn’t be able to return to work that evening.


Milwaukee Public Library Echo Newsletter Index

The staff at the Central Library Frank P. Zeidler Humanities Room have compiled a searchable index for issues of Historic Milwaukee, Inc.’s Echo newsletter. This database lists articles from the newsletter’s inception in 2004 until the most current issues. Physical copies can also be seen in the Humanities Room.

Search the database here!

Lecture – When Milwaukee Had Rapid Transit

Photo Courtesy of WE Energies

Commuters drive on it every day.

The Marquette Interchange rises above its uncompleted subway entrance. Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?, will present a history of Rapid Transit interurbans in the Milwaukee area until service ended 65 years ago.

Please register online at mpl.org or call (414) 286-3011. Street parking is free on Saturday, but time limits apply.

Saturday, June 25
2:00 – 3:00 PM

Milwaukee Central Library
Centennial Hall, Loos Room
733 N. 8th St.

Terra Cotta Walking & Biking Tours


Ceramic artist and terra cotta historian, Ben Tyjeski will be offering tours this summer to promote and raise money for a book that he is writing about Milwaukee’s Terra Cotta golden age. He knows the subject well and is an accomplished artist with the medium as can be seen by looking at his portfolio. His knowledge of the architectural uses and history in Milwaukee is second to none. Ben has thoroughly researched the subject and will explain the details of the artistry in many of the city’s most unique buildings. Three special tours will be given that delve into some of the best examples that can be seen.

JUNE 26, 11am-12pm
Distance: less than 1 mile.

​July 24, 11am-12pm
Distance: 1.75 miles.

August 14, 11am-12pm
Distance: 1 mile.

Please sign up in advance as space is limited. The tours are free but donations will be accepted and will go towards the publication of the book.

Photos courtesy of Ben Tyjeski

2016 Zeidler Memorial Lecture at Central Public Library


2016 Zeidler Memorial Lecture
Conservative Counterrevolution – Challenging Liberalism in 1950s Milwaukee

Sunday, April 10th at 3pm in the Centennial Hall of the Central Public Library, 733 N. 8th St.

In the 1950s, Milwaukee’s labor movement and Socialist mayor seemed to embody a dominant liberal consensus that sought to expand the New Deal. Based on her new book Conservative Counterrevolution: Challenging Liberalism in 1950s Milwaukee, Dr. Tula Connell will explore how business interests and political conservatives arose to undo that consensus, and how the resulting clash both shaped a city and helped redefine postwar American politics. A book signing sponsored by Boswell Book Company follows the event.

The free program includes an interactive panel discussion featuring:
Mike Nichols, president of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute
State Rep. Fred Kessler, colleague and admirer of former Mayor Frank Zeidler
Joanne Williams, moderator, host of MPTV’s Black Nouveau program.

Central Library History of Movie Theaters

On display at the Milwaukee Central Library outside the 2nd Floor Humanities Room are artifacts and items from Milwaukee’s movie theaters. The display includes photos, postcards, Orpheum Circuit (vaudeville) playbills, Saxe theater chain newsletters and sheet music from the Milwaukee Public Library’s collections & staff loans. This display intersects with the 100th year anniversary of the Downer Theater.

Stop by and see this magnificent collection. As always the Public Library does a great job of displaying these little seen items.