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Brewer’s Hill

The Frederick Ketter Warehouse, built around 1891, has housed a variety of manufacturing operations, including a horseradish and honey factory. Situated near the edge of Brewer's Hill and Halyard Park, the building has been claimed by both communities throughout its history.
The Brewer’s Hill neighborhood has experienced a cycle of prosperity, neglect, and renaissance. Brewer’s Hill is located to the north of DOWNTOWN between North Holton Street and North Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. It stretches as far north as North Avenue, with the Milwaukee River making up its southern border.An industrial neighborhood from its development…
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Postcard Advertising beer and pretzels in Milwaukee, Wis.
Brewing beer has been a central industry in Milwaukee since the mid-nineteenth century and frames the city’s identity—more than any other single industry. According to Thomas Cochran, one of the industry’s major historians, “Milwaukee’s beer became famous throughout the world within the course of the first three decades of its manufacture.” The city and the…
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This 1924 photograph shows the Lincoln Avenue Bridge over the Kinnickinnic River.
Three rivers—the MILWAUKEE RIVER, MENOMONEE RIVER, and the KINNICKINNIC RIVER—run through Milwaukee and converge DOWNTOWN. Because they forge connections across the natural barriers of rivers, bridges have facilitated transportation and commercial activity. But their construction and use also sparked conflict throughout the city’s history. Milwaukee pioneers SOLOMON JUNEAU, BYRON KILBOURN, and GEORGE WALKER competed fiercely…
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Briggs & Stratton Corporation

This 1954 advertisement highlights the many convenient uses of the Briggs & Stratton 4-cycle engines.
Headquartered in Milwaukee for over a century, the Briggs and Stratton Corporation began in 1908 as a partnership between inventor Stephen F. Briggs and investor Harold M. Stratton. The company initially focused on manufacturing automobile parts such as locks, igniters, and starter switches, the last of which accounted for most of the company’s business as…
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Portrait of Bishop Kemper, the first Episcopal missionary bishop in Wisconsin, taken in 1855. He was a prominent figure in establishing the Anglican religion in the midwest.
The territory that became Milwaukee fell under British imperial rule in 1763 when Great Britain defeated France in the French and Indian Wars. It became a territory of the United States after American independence. Neither the British nor Americans settled the area at the time. The small fur-trading community remained predominantly French and Indian until…
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Bucyrus International Inc.

52 men stand inside a massive dipper for a 950B stripping shovel manufactured at the Bucyrus-Erie plant in South Milwaukee.
No other company built as wide a variety of excavating and lifting machines as Bucyrus International, Inc. and its predecessor companies. Machines have been manufactured at its South Milwaukee plant since 1893 and from 2011 by Caterpillar Inc., which purchased Bucyrus that year. Originally founded in 1880 as the Bucyrus Foundry and Manufacturing Company at…
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The Lao Buddhist Temple on National Avenue practices Theravada Buddhism and is operated by members of the Laotian community. The building in which it is located was constructed for a fraternal order in 1927 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The formal introduction of Buddhism to America occurred at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, when a Japanese Zen monk named Soyen Shaku (1860-1919) came as an envoy. Ninety years later and ninety miles north of Chicago, the formal practice of Buddhism began in Milwaukee under the guidance of Japanese Soto Zen monks at the…
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Building Regulations

Building regulations, such as housing codes, categorized and quantified physical characteristics of structures in Milwaukee. This building, from the 1400 block of North 6th Street, was in such poor condition that it was razed soon after this photograph was taken in 1947.
As in other nineteenth century North American cities, Milwaukee’s earliest regulations dealt with the risk of fire. Destructive fires in the 1840s and 1850s led the city to prohibit the construction of wooden buildings in the central business district and to regulate the design and construction of chimneys, hearths, ovens, and boilers. Concerns about health,…
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Byron Kilbourn

A 2005 photograph of Byron Kilbourn's tombstone, located in Milwaukee's Forest Home Cemetery.
Of the three individuals considered Milwaukee’s founders, Byron Kilbourn could arguably rank first among these icons. Certainly in terms of a metropolitan vision, Kilbourn had the most ambitious and comprehensive dreams of not only what could happen in this part of Southeastern Wisconsin but also, importantly, what it would take to realize such dreams. Foremost,…
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Cardinal Stritch University

Cardinal Stritch University experienced significant growth and expansion toward the end of the 20th century. This modern aerial photograph provides a view of campus from the east.
Since 1937 Cardinal Stritch University has been dedicated to offering a liberal arts education and providing for the underserved. Stritch’s story began in the depths of the Great Depression when Milwaukee Archbishop Samuel A. Stritch urged the city’s women’s religious communities to establish teacher training schools for the nuns within their orders. The Sisters of…
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Carl Sandburg

Photograph of Carl Sandburg sitting with his typewriter at his home in Illinois, circa 1917-1918.
Poet, journalist, novelist, and biographer of Abraham Lincoln, Carl Sandburg came to Wisconsin from Chicago in late 1907 to be a political organizer in rural Wisconsin for the state’s Social Democratic Party. Sandburg rose rapidly among Milwaukee’s SOCIALISTS between 1908 and 1912 because of his enthusiasm for the local brand of socialism and his powerful…
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Caroline Quarlls

This portrait of Caroline Quarlls was taken when she lived in Sandwich, Ontario, Canada after escaping slavery.
Caroline Quarlls (later Quarlls Watkins) is widely recognized as the first enslaved person to migrate through Wisconsin using the Underground Railroad, reaching Canada and freedom in 1842. Born in 1826 in St. Louis, Missouri, Quarlls decided at age 16 to escape slavery, leaving her home on July 4th, 1842. She traveled by steamboat from St.…
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Carroll University

This photograph provides a view of Carroll University as it looked from the southeast in 1967, when it was still known as Carroll College.
Founded by territorial charter in 1846 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Carroll College grew out of the then five-year-old Prairieville Academy, a preparatory program to fit young men for entry into the state university or eastern colleges. Carroll’s official charter, signed on January 31, 1846 by Territorial Governor Henry Dodge (two days before he signed the Beloit…
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Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

Photograph of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist as seen from across Cathedral Square Park.
This historic church, often used as an emblem of the city of Milwaukee, is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The cathedral was the work of the first bishop of Milwaukee, Swiss-born John Martin Henni, who served as head of the local Catholic Church from 1843-1881. When Henni arrived in Milwaukee in…
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Catherine B. Cleary

Catherine B. Cleary (1917-2010) was a formidable figure on a local and national scale, and a trailblazer for women in business. Born to a prominent family, she intended to pursue a career in education and law. When, despite her credentials, local law firms only offered her positions that did not take advantage of her legal…
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Catherine M. Conroy

Catherine M. Conroy (1919-1989) was a prominent leader in the labor and feminist movements in Milwaukee. Born in Milwaukee, Conroy worked as a cafeteria worker in a county tuberculosis sanitarium and County General Hospital after high school in 1938. She was hired as a long-distance operator at Wisconsin Bell in 1942, later transferring to the…
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This photograph shows the flour mill built in 1855 in the heart of Cedarburg.
The City of Cedarburg is located in Ozaukee County approximately 20 miles north of the City of Milwaukee. Incorporated as a city in 1885 with a population of approximately 1,000 people, by 2010 the city’s population was 11,412. The Town of Cedarburg remains a separate entity that manages services such as parks and roads. Cedarburg…
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This 1871 plan of Forest Home Cemetery shows it as small, separate city whose curvilinear design provided a counterpoint to the urban grid.
Like all urban areas, early Milwaukee faced many issues when it came to burying the dead. There were concerns with sanitation and the threat of disease, the competition for space with businesses and housing, and the need to properly memorialize those who died. Milwaukee’s early cemeteries had neither the permanence nor the grandeur of its…
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Chain Belt Company

Chain Belt Company employees work at metal lathes. Finished parts and gears are stacked behind the men.
Chain Belt Company originated in the late-nineteenth century as a manufacturer of chain links designed to replace leather belts in driving large agricultural implements. Throughout the twentieth century, it diversified, improving the inner workings of machinery in a wide array of industries. The company’s success was largely attributed to the fact that its innovations were…
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Charles Whitnall

Charles Whitnall was a prominent Milwaukee conservationist and regional planner during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is considered the foundational mind behind the Milwaukee County Parks System.
Charles B. Whitnall, planner and conservationist, is considered the main inspiration for Milwaukee County’s system of public parks and also an influential advocate of regional planning in early twentieth century Milwaukee. Whitnall was born in 1859, four miles north of downtown, in present day Riverwest. Charles’s father, Frank Whitnall, was an English immigrant and gardener…
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