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This photograph shows the Summerfest grounds as seen from on top the double ferris wheel at the midway, taken in 1972.
Launched in 1968, Summerfest is a multi-day event held in June and July featuring music, food, shopping, and family activities that bring more than 800,000 people to the Henry W. Maier Festival Park on the Milwaukee lakefront. Billed as “The World’s Largest Music Festival” by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999, fans of…
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Portrait of Gustav Unonius, Episcopal minister and leader of the 19th century Swedish settlement once located in present-day Waukesha County.
According to the 2009-2013 American Community Survey, some 27,000 people in the Milwaukee metropolitan area identify themselves as of Swedish ancestry. Despite these numbers, the state’s and Milwaukee’s Swedish population, arriving in their largest numbers in the late nineteenth century, never represented a substantial portion of the population either in the city or outstate, and…
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Portrait of John Martin Henni, circa 1880. Henni was a Swiss immigrant who became a leading figure in Milwaukee's Catholic community.
The Swiss population in Milwaukee has not been a large one over the years, but Swiss immigrants and their descendants have contributed to Milwaukee’s political, religious, and cultural climates in critical ways. In 1930, some 4,000 people in the metro area reported their father’s birthplace as Switzerland. In the early twenty first century, some 8,000…
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Members of Milwaukee's Syrian community pose for a photograph in 1918.
Milwaukee’s Syrian population dates to the late nineteenth century, when villagers from Ain Bordai, near present-day Baalbek in Lebanon, arrived in Chicago for the World’s Fair. At the time, Syria was a province in the Ottoman Empire. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the region came under…
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A crowd of people gather between buses to tailgate prior to a Brewer game in 2011.
For most American sports fans, tailgating brings to mind cool fall days, with smoke wafting through the parking lot in the hours before kickoff. However, for MILWAUKEE BREWERS fans, tailgating is the public manner in which one eats, drinks, plays, and socializes before the first pitch at Miller Park, where the parking lots function as…
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Photograph taken in 1940 of the interior of a tavern located on South 17th Street.
Milwaukee’s taverns were shaped by complex societal changes and largely defined by the lasting influence of the city’s large German population and significant brewing industry. Scattered along networks of dirt and plank roads connecting small settlements in Milwaukee and its surrounding counties, early wayside taverns were more than simply a place to get a drink.…
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As telecommunications networks developed, they depended less and less on humans to complete the system. This 1909 photograph shows bicycle-riding messengers who delivered telegrams to their final destinations.
Telecommunications technologies use electronic signals over cables and the electro-magnetic spectrum to allow people to send and receive information quickly over great distances. Milwaukee has a history of ever-changing technologies, with varying levels of competition and regulation of the services used to connect Milwaukee to the world. Telecommunication began in Milwaukee when the Erie &…
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1949 photograph featuring of Milwaukee high school students filming the WTJM-TV program "The Keen Teens," which aired on Saturday afternoons.
Television debuted in Milwaukee during the medium’s “Golden Age” from the late 1940s through the early 1960s. The city’s local networks were pioneers broadcasting on both the VHF and UHF frequencies. At least fourteen commercial and public television networks competed for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) construction permits and then viewers in Milwaukee during that era.…
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Established in the late 1860s, the Wisconsin Seaman's Friend Society aimed to provide sailors with affordable lodgings away from the influences of gambling, drinking, and prostitution. This Temperance House stood on Erie Street.
Temperance, or the crusade against alcohol in Jacksonian and antebellum America, resulted in the first support groups for alcoholics, the first local license laws, and then (in the 1850s and mostly in the Northeast and Midwest) statewide laws banning the manufacture and sale of liquor. The movement coincided with the settlement of Wisconsin and Milwaukee,…
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Ten Chimneys

Photograph of the Ten Chimneys property looking south through the driveway gate.
Home to world famous theater couple Alfred Lunt and his wife Lynn Fontanne, Ten Chimneys earned National Historic Landmark status in the early 2000s. Lunt, a Milwaukee native, bought the site in 1913 and began building the house a year later. The Lunts brought in famed theater set designer Claggett Wilson to paint elaborate murals…
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Playing tennis in Bay View in 1893.
Tennis traces its roots back to the early 1300s, but it emerged in its modern form as “lawn tennis” in England in 1874. The sport became immensely popular with the upper middle classes, who were challenging the power of the old aristocracy in the late Victorian era. The surging bourgeoisie still aped the ways of…
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Territorial Jurisdiction

1821 map of the Great Lakes and Northwestern Territories, when Wisconsin was part of the Michigan Territory. The red lines indicate the route taken by Lewis Cass, governor of the Michigan Territory, in 1820.
The Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolution, recognized the legal jurisdiction of the United States over lands north of the Ohio River. For the next sixty-five years, the area that became Milwaukee fell under the jurisdiction of various federal territories. Although the authority of the federal government over what would become Wisconsin…
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The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company (TMER&L)

An electric streetcar heads north on Holton Street near E. Garfield Avenue in the early half of the twentieth century.
TMER&L Co. was the first electric streetcar company in the city of Milwaukee. It commenced service in 1890 under the name “The Milwaukee Street Railway,” a business incorporated in New Jersey and owned by the North American Company of New Jersey (an umbrella entity with other municipal streetcar holdings). In that year, North American’s owner,…
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Theater X

Willem Dafoe, in the red sweater third from the left, and other members of Theater X perform in a 1975 production called "Civil Commitment Hearings."
This experimental troupe was recognized for producing unique and unconventional plays. Formed by a group of theater faculty and students from the UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE in 1969, they first made waves with their production of The Measure’s Taken at the 1970 International Brecht Symposium. Their 1978 production of A Fierce Longing earned a prestigious Off-Broadway…
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Theodora Winton Youmans

Portrait of Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association president Theodora Youmans standing in front of a painted backdrop holding an "On Wisconsin" flag in 1915.
Theodora Winton Youmans (1863-1932) was the first Wisconsin-born leader and last president of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association (WWSA), which she reorganized as the Wisconsin League of Women Voters. She led lobbying to win the state’s historic first ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. A prominent journalist, she joined the Waukesha Freeman in the 1880s and…
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Third Ward Fire of 1892

The fire in the Third Ward in 1892 demolished more than 440 buildings and displaced 2,500 people from the neighborhood.
At about 5:40 p.m. on Friday, October 28, 1892, spontaneous combustion in the Union Oil and Paint Company building on the Milwaukee River at Water Street, south of St. Paul Avenue, caused a fire. Strong winds swirling from the west and northwest pushed the fire east to Lake Michigan and south to Erie Street. By…
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Thurston Woods

The intersection of N. 35th Street and Silver Spring Avenue, as it appeared in 1940.
The Thurston Woods neighborhood is located in northwest Milwaukee. It is bordered by Douglas Avenue to the north, Silver Spring Avenue to the south, Hopkins Street to the west and Teutonia Avenue to the east. It includes several distinctive sections, including an eponymous subdivision and the Berryland Public Housing Development. It is named after oyster…
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Houses under construction in 1950, shortly after this parcel on South Howard Street was annexed into Milwaukee.
Tippecanoe is a neighborhood in the City of Milwaukee. The city government describes its boundaries as Morgan Avenue to the north and Norwich and Whitnall Avenues to the south from the City of St. Francis to Howell Avenue, with a segment extending to Sixth Street between Howard Avenue and Norwich Avenue. Unofficially, some people put…
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In 1902, Prince Henry of Prussia visited the United States. The younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II is seen here in his carriage in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee has hosted many visitors for organizational meetings, major conventions, and personal or business travel throughout its history. The city’s tourism industry grew along with the city, as an array of businesses, organizations, and civic leaders worked both independently and together to attract, accommodate, and ultimately profit from these guests. Milwaukee’s earliest visitors were often…
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Town of Addison

This 2014 photograph shows the nineteenth century Ritger Wagonmaking and Blacksmith Shop in its modern context.
Located in west-central WASHINGTON COUNTY, the Town of Addison borders Dodge County to the west, the TOWN OF WAYNE to the north, the TOWN OF HARTFORD to the south, and the TOWNS OF BARTON and WEST BEND to the east. Settled predominantly by Germans following the regional completion of the U.S. Public Land Survey, the…
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