Postcard: Juneau Park, Milwaukee

This old postcard is postmarked 1909. It shows Juneau Park, and although much has changed about the park and lakefront, you can see a couple of familiar things.

In the foreground is the statue Leif, the Discoverer, which still stands today in Juneau Park. The original was unveiled in Boston on October 29, 1887. This replica was erected in Milwaukee two weeks later.

Beyond that, barely visible, is the Juneau Monument. You can see its white base most clearly against the green trees. The sculpture was unveiled on July 6, 1887, by Solomon Juneau’s granddaughter, Hattie White.

The monument commemorates one of Milwaukee’s founders, Solomon Juneau. He settled an area east of the Milwaukee River in 1818. His home and trading post were located where the 100 East Wisconsin Building now stands. He named his settlement Juneau Town. He later joined with George H. Walker’s Walker’s Point and Byron Kilbourn’s Kilbourntown (present-day Westown) to incorporate the City of Milwaukee. Juneau was the postmaster and the first president of the Village of Milwaukee and was elected the first mayor of the City of Milwaukee in 1846. In 1854, Juneau and his family relocated to Dodge County, Wisconsin, where they founded the village of Theresa, named after Juneau’s French-Canadian mother. Solomon died one year later in Keshena, Wisconsin, on a visit to the Menominee tribe.

Of course, there was no Lincoln Memorial Parkway until decades later. By state law, the city had the right to a 300-foot-wide strip of lake bed along the shoreline. In 1907, the massive landfill project that took more than 20 years to complete was started. The work created McKinley and Bradford Beaches as well as a lagoon and a small park around it. Lincoln Memorial Drive connected them all and ran from E. Mason Street to E. Kenwood Boulevard, a distance of slightly over three miles. It opened in 1929 and was named for Abraham Lincoln, whose statue stands in front of the War Memorial today.

In this image, you see Chicago & Northwestern Railroad tracks and, in the distance, the old Chicago & Northwestern Railway Depot on Wisconsin Avenue. This building was razed in 1966.


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