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University of Wisconsin-Waukesha

Founded in the 1960s as the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, the two-year college campus is now part of the University of Milwaukee.
In the 1960s, Wisconsin experienced a large spike in student enrollments as the baby boomers graduated from high school and looked for advanced educational opportunities. Waukesha County, in particular, saw a tremendous increase in population as families moved west from Milwaukee along the new Interstate 94 corridor. Wisconsin’s flagship university in Madison could not accommodate…
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Up North

Rudolph and Alice Gruettner, a couple from Milwaukee, wave from their boat on Rice Creek, located in Vilas County, in 1909.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, “Up North” is a relative term, more of a state of mind than an actual place. That’s especially true for people from Milwaukee. The Movoto travel guide states, “if a Milwaukeean says they’re headed ‘up north’ for the weekend, it means they’re taking a few days to simply…
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Urban Ecology Center

A 2012 photograph of the Urban Ecology Center's main building, constructed in 2004 in Riverside Park.
The Urban Ecology Center (UEC) is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental awareness in Milwaukee. In 1991 residents of the area around Riverside Park began organizing park cleanups as a way to teach children about the environment, as well as to fight pollution and crime. They soon organized as the UEC and began hosting classes…
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Urban Renewal

Photograph of an demolished lot and other housing structures on W. Fond Du Lac Avenue that were eventually torn down and replaced by the Hillside Housing Development.
In Milwaukee, urban renewal largely took place between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, primarily in Midtown and adjoining neighborhoods during the mayoralty of Henry W. Maier. In preceding decades, due in large part to the economic stagnation and dislocation caused by the Great Depression and World War II, significant portions of Milwaukee’s infrastructure had…
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US Bank Center

Photograph of the U.S. Bank Center from Lakefront Park taken in 1985.
The US Bank Center was constructed as the home of the First Wisconsin National Bank. In 1969 the company unveiled plans to move from its headquarters at 735 N. Water Street to a new downtown headquarters building at 777 E. Wisconsin Avenue. When finished in 1973, the surpassed Milwaukee’s CITY HALL as the tallest in…
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UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena

The arena was renamed the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena in 2014 and is now the home court of the UWM basketball team.
The Milwaukee Arena was the city’s major sports and entertainment facility when it opened in 1950. The Arena was home to Milwaukee’s first National Basketball Association team, the Hawks, and hosted events including the Tripoli Shrine Circus, Holiday on Ice, and orchestra concerts. One of the nation’s first venues designed to accommodate television broadcasting, the…
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Vel Phillips

Renowned for her civil rights activism and historical status as Milwaukee's first alderwoman and African American on the city's Common Council, a younger Vel Phillips sits behind her desk.
Vel Phillips (1924-2018), Milwaukee’s first alderwoman and the first African American on its Common Council, was born Velvalea Rodgers on the South Side of Milwaukee. While she was a child, her family moved to Bronzeville, where she later established her political career.  She graduated from Howard University in 1946, returned to Wisconsin to attend law…
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1889 photograph of survivors of Co. H, 11th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry taken during the 23rd national encampment of the G.A.R. in Milwaukee.
The most remarkable reminder of the presence of veterans in Milwaukee is the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center (WMC), which was built on the downtown lakefront as a “living memorial” to veterans. Finished in 1957, the War Memorial building is the home of the Milwaukee Art Museum, while the non-profit organization that administers the WMC…
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The old Wisconsin Avenue viaduct in 1988, showing the structures that originally surrounded it.
Milwaukee’s topography of rivers, valleys, and high bluffs created significant transportation challenges. Engineers in Milwaukee constructed bridges to allow vehicles and pedestrians to cross over waterways, while viaducts directed traffic across changes in terrain. During the late nineteenth century, innovations in iron and steel construction allowed viaducts to cover greater distances with multiple spans and…
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Victor L. Berger

Seated portrait of Victor Berger taken in 1905.
Newspaperman, co-founder of the Socialist Party, and first Socialist U.S. Congressman, Victor L. Berger (1860-1929) created the party apparatus that shaped Milwaukee politics for a half century. Berger fought for free speech, opposed war, and advocated for programs ranging from old-age pensions to Milwaukee’s public parks. Berger believed that change would come through evolution and…
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Vietnamese refugees arrived in Milwaukee in several “waves” during and after the Vietnam War. In the years following, the Vietnamese who arrived in Milwaukee assimilated into American society. “First wave” refugees, with medical educations and middle- or upper-class backgrounds, came to America before 1975. These refugees used their connections to former American military officers they…
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Village of Bayside

Located at the intersection of Lake Drive and Fairy Chasm Road, Bayside's iconic Lion Gate was built in 1911 by Frederick Usinger and Jacob Donges. The men used the gate to mark the entrance to their estates that were then part of South Fairy Chasm.
Located along LAKE MICHIGAN, about twelve miles north of downtown MILWAUKEE, the Village of Bayside occupies the northern end of MILWAUKEE COUNTY’s lakeshore and extends into OZAUKEE COUNTY. The Village had a population of 4,389 in 2010 and a median estimated home value of $325,600 in 2014. An AGRICULTURAL and summer home region in the…
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Village of Big Bend

The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Vernon, in use for worship from 1854 until the 1930s and restored in the 1970s, is an example of Greek Revival architecture listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Village of Big Bend is located along the Fox River within the Town of Vernon, southwest of MILWAUKEE. Like much of WAUKESHA COUNTY, Big Bend and Vernon began as farming communities. The Town of Vernon was founded in 1839, while the Village of Big Bend was incorporated out of Vernon’s land in 1928. In…
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Village of Butler

The railroad industry has been an integral part of community identity in Butler since the early twentieth century. The local rail yard, now owned by the Union Pacific Railroad Company, remains significant today.
The Village of Butler lies on WAUKESHA COUNTY’S eastern border, surrounded by Menomonee Falls, Brookfield, and Milwaukee. The small, industrial village owes its existence to the railroad industry. In the twenty-first century, residents continue to celebrate that connection. In 1909, the Milwaukee, Sparta, and North Western Railway built a railroad yard on Milwaukee’s 124th St. border…
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Village of Chenequa

This 1895 photograph looks down over Pine Lake, the centerpiece of the village of Chenequa, and George Brumder's summer home. Brumder was a German-language book and newspaper publisher from Milwaukee known across the United States.
The Village of Chenequa is centered on Pine Lake in the LAKE COUNTRY area of WAUKESHA COUNTY, approximately 30 miles west of the city of Milwaukee. In 2010 Chenequa’s population was estimated to be 590. The POTAWATOMI were the last native peoples known to have inhabited the area, with villages established on the eastern and…
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Village of Dousman

The Chicago and North Western Railway first built a station in Dousman in the 1880s. It is pictured here in 1910 with several individuals standing on the platform.
Dousman is a small village located about 35 miles west of Milwaukee in Waukesha County’s “Lake Country.” It was named after Talbot C. Dousman, a prominent local politician who settled there in in the mid-1830s. Historically a popular location for summer visitors to the Lake Country, Dousman was the most important community center in the…
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Village of Grafton

Paramount Plaza is a park in Grafton that memorializes the Paramount Record Label, which pressed its records in the village.
The Village of Grafton, located twenty miles north of Milwaukee in OZAUKEE COUNTY, is centered on the Milwaukee River. The village is bordered by the City and Town of Cedarburg to the west and the TOWN OF GRAFTON to the east. In 1896, the Village of Grafton was incorporated from the Town of Grafton. When…
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Village of Hartland

The Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad Depot, built in Hartland in 1879, is the last remaining railroad depot in the Village.
According to legend, in 1838 Stephen Warren, the first white settler of the Hartland area, walked from the city of Ann Arbor in Michigan to the WAUKESHA area in search of desirable farm land. Warren established a farmstead where his family joined him. The Warren family was followed by native-born migrants in addition to Swedish,…
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Village of Lac La Belle

Only a few hundred people live in Lac La Belle, which also lacks a business area and is mostly green space.
The Village of Lac La Belle is a small, affluent community located about 38 miles west of Milwaukee along three miles of Lac La Belle, one of WAUKESHA COUNTY’S biggest lakes. With only 289 residents as of 2010, Lac La Belle is the least populated village in the county. It is located almost entirely within…
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Village of Lannon

This 1904 image taken at the Lake Shore Stone Quarry in Lannon illustrates a cross-section of the rock and limestone for which the village is known.
The Village of Lannon is a small community in northeastern WAUKESHA COUNTY incorporated in 1930. As of the 2010 census the village had a population of 1,107. Lannon is located on the Niagara Escarpment, a geographic feature that stretches across the Great Lakes region and contains a significant amount of limestone. The first limestone quarry…
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