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Boerner Botanical Gardens

Postcard created between 1932 and 1945 illustrating the administration building and landscaping of the Boerner Botanical Gardens.
The Botanical Gardens, a highlight of Milwaukee County’s nationally-recognized PARK system, are a product of Depression-era labor. CHARLES WHITNALL, a long-time member of the County Park Commission, pushed for the acquisition of park land in the 1920s. He envisioned such space as an escape from urban life. The gardens were built in the park named… Read More

Borchert Field

Postcard featuring crowds gathered outside Borchert Field, postmarked 1911.
Originally called “Athletic Park,” Borchert Field was the longest lasting professional ballpark in Milwaukee. Built in 1888, the field stood at Burleigh and 8th Streets. The park was home to the major league Milwaukee Brewers (1891), Negro League Milwaukee Bears (1923), All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Milwaukee Chicks (1944), and the minor league American Association… Read More

Bowling

Photograph of bowlers in action at the first tournament hosted by American Bowling Congress, held in Milwaukee in 1905.
The game of tenpins, or bowling as it is more commonly known, has been associated with Milwaukee since German immigrants began arriving in the Midwest before the Civil War. Bowling took many forms before it was popularized as the game of tenpins. It has been said that, during the third and fourth centuries, German Christians… Read More

Boxing

Portrait of Milwaukee boxer Anton Chmurski, known as "Kid Moore," taken in 1920.
Boxing’s historical trajectory in Milwaukee paralleled its rise and fall on the national scene. Local fascination with prizefighting faded in the second half of the twentieth century, although amateur boxing has continued into the twenty-first century. The popularity of boxing grew in Milwaukee during the second half of the nineteenth century. At the time, boxing… Read More

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee

In 2016, Milwaukee was one of several American cities that participated in Navy Week. In this photograph, a serviceman plays basketball with young campers at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee began in 1887 in the basement of the Plymouth Congregational Church, then located at the corner of Milwaukee and Wells. Since the late nineteenth century it has served the needs of young people in the Milwaukee area and has played an important role in the national Boys… Read More

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… Read More

Brewing

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… Read More

Bridge War

This sketch illustrates the Chestnut Street bridge that connected the east and west sides of early Milwaukee and stood at the center of the city's bridge war.
The Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845 was the culmination of a decade-long sectional struggle for preeminence among the city’s early settlements. In 1818, Solomon Juneau initiated what would become, years later, Juneautown, in what is now the eastern part of downtown Milwaukee. Sixteen years later, Byron Kilbourn founded Kilbourntown to the west of the Milwaukee… Read More

Bridges

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… Read More

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… Read More

British

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… Read More

Bronzeville

Three people walk past local businesses located near 12th and Walnut Streets in 1958. Some of the businesses include a men's clothing and jewelry store and a tailor.
Known variously as the “Inner Core,” “Sixth Ward,” and (pejoratively) “Little Africa,” among other names, Bronzeville was the historic core of African-American Milwaukee on the city’s Near North Side. Racial segregation roughly defined its boundaries along State Street, North Avenue, North 3rd Street (now Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive), and North 12th Street. Milwaukeeans… Read More

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… Read More

Buddhists

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… Read More

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,… Read More

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,… Read More

Car Ferry

The City of Saginaw car ferry is docked and being loaded with railway cars in this photograph from 1946.
As railroads revolutionized the transportation of goods and passengers around the United States in the nineteenth century, they confronted a problem: bodies of water too big to build tracks across. The solution to this problem was car ferries, special vessels that carried railroad cars, goods, and passengers across waterways. The first self-propelled car ferry, the… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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.… Read More