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Boerner Botanical Gardens

Image of a painted postcard displaying the green landscape of the Boerner Botanical Gardens and an administration building set in the background between lush trees. Colorful plants and green lawns appear everywhere surrounding a tall tree that stands prominently in the center of this picture.
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

Image of a portion of Boerner Botanical Gardens showcasing its green landscape. Different plants and lawns grow on the ground. A group of purple landscaping flowers is set under the shade of a big lush tree in the background. A white gazebo is visible in the distance behind them. A white stone bench stands in the foreground.
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

Long shot of the interior of a bowling alley full of spectators watching the bowlers in action. The long bowling lane looks dominant in this black and white photograph, filling the frame from the left side until almost the entire right side of the image. Some players stand still, watching the balls they have just thrown rolling down the bowling lanes. A replica of the Statue of Liberty is visible in the background of the spectator stands.
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

Grayscale full shot of Anton Chmurski demonstrating a boxing motion with eyes staring directly into the lens. For this studio portrait, he wears a sleeveless shirt, short pants on top of tight-fitting pants, socks, and shoes.
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

Image of a serviceman in his dress white uniform playing basketball with three children in an indoor basketball court. A child in the blue shirt holds the ball while facing the man. More children appear in the background along with other adults.
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

Facade of the Frederick Ketter Warehouse with a narrow structure. The two-and-a-half-story building features stepped parapet gables and exterior brick walls that are turning black. The first-floor front consists of three bays: Double doors on its center bay, and a smaller single door on the left. A wooden stair is attached in front of the small door.
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

A painted horizontal postcard illustrates a full glass of orange-colored beer with a large head of foam and a golden brown pretzel in exaggerated size. On the top right portion of the blue-colored background is inscribed "This Is What Made Milwaukee Famous." On the bottom right is "Come To It."
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

Sketch of the old Chestnut Street bridge connecting the east and west sides of the Milwaukee River. Two platforms in the middle of the bridge are open to let an incoming boat pass. A person with two cattle and an empty wagon is waiting on the side of one of the platforms.
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

A grayscale wide shot of the Lincoln Avenue Bridge over the Kinnickinnic River connecting the two banks.
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

A grayscale advertising page showing a long line of people demonstrating the use of a Briggs & Stratton 4-cycle engine. The ad also shows two men working in a sewer and underground passage and two working on farms using the engines. At the top left in dominant font size is inscribed "It's the Modern World We Live In! by Briggs & Stratton." On the bottom right is a tip for the engine's maintenance.
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

Medium shot of Bishop David Jackson Kemper in grayscale tone sitting on an armchair. He wears a light-colored shirt and a vest inside a collared suit. He poses with two arms resting on the chair while making eye contact with the camera lens.
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

Panoramic view of a city street framed by rows of buildings and parked cars. On the left, three people are walking on the sidewalk. In the center of this grayscale photo is a road with cars passing by.
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.

Grayscale high-angle shot of 52 men standing inside a massive dipper for a Bucyrus-Erie 950-B stripping shovel. Appearing in the background are abundant kinds of equipment filling the plant's interior.
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

Facade of the Lao Buddhist Temple sits facing a street. The rectangular building features red-colored wooden brackets adorning its eaves. The central section is a three-story structure, while the wings consist of two stories. The center door is covered by a red canopy. Two white lion statues embellish the front steps. A green lawn surrounds the temple. Above is a clear blue sky.
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

Exterior view of a dilapidated duplex house facing slightly to the right. This image shows two sides of the two-story structure. One on the left has a wooden exterior wall and windows. One on the right features two doors on the ground floor and three regularly spaced windows on the second. The wall is mainly in a poor condition. One of the windows is broken; others are mostly covered.
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

An aerial photo shows the City of Saginaw car ferry that is docked and being loaded with a long line of railway cars. Dozens of cars parking next to the railroad seem to indicate a busy day.
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

Aerial shot of Cardinal Stritch University. The photograph shows the university's buildings complex and its surrounding areas filled with green trees.
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