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Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Photograph of the modern Children's Hospital of Wisconsin building. It is part of the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin traces its history from a little house on Brady Street offering free pediatric care in the late nineteenth century to its current manifestation on the County Grounds in Wauwatosa, where it is part of the Regional Medical Center. Unique among the state’s hospitals with its exclusive focus on child care, Children’s…
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1932 photograph of the Toy Building, once located downtown at 736 N. 2nd Street. Built in 1913, the building was home to Charlie Toy’s Shanghai Chinese Restaurant.
Due to restrictive legislation, Chinese immigration to America remained very small in the late nineteenth century and remained so until the 1940s. Originally from Canton, China, the immigrants that arrived in Milwaukee migrated from the West Coast. The Chinese who came to Milwaukee usually were men who left behind their wives and children to find…
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Christian Scientists

An interior photograph of the former First Church of Christ, Scientist located on Prospect Avenue. Built in 1907, the building is now used as a venue for weddings and other events.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder and discoverer of Christian Science, published her landmark book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, in 1875. Four years later, Eddy founded the Mother Church in Boston, and within five years, Christian Scientists began practicing their Christian healing faith in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Christian Science community is one…
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Church of the Gesu

1991 photograph featuring the north facade of Gesu Church. Dedicated in 1894, its two towers are a unique feature to this landmark building.
In 1894, along Milwaukee’s most elegant of boulevards (Grand Avenue, now Wisconsin Avenue), arose an imposing, twin-towered Gothic church whose façade was reminiscent of the cathedral at Chartres. The Church of the Gesu was designed by H.C. Koch who also served as architect for Milwaukee’s city hall, then still under construction. It named after the…
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City Beautiful Movement

The grand staircase at Lake Park was designed by Alfred C. Clas, Milwaukee's strongest supporter of the City Beautiful movement, and completed in 1908.
The City Beautiful Movement was a turn of the twentieth century national movement focused on creating attractive, well-designed urban landscapes. While the City Beautiful crusade is typically associated with places such as Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Denver, Milwaukee also experienced a push for beautification during this period. Influenced by the municipal reform movement and inspired…
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City Hall

City Hall from the south, with a message advertising Festa Italiana on the upper stories.
The Milwaukee City Hall is located on the site of the previous “Market Hall” on the triangular parcel of land between Market Street, Water Street, Wells Street, and Kilbourn Avenue. In 1891 an architectural contest was held to replace the “Market Hall” with a new headquarters for city government. Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb submitted…
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City of Festivals Parade

A line of floats stretches down Wisconsin Avenue for the inaugural City of Festivals Parade in 1983.
Inspired after witnessing the parade and pageantry that commences Munich’s Oktoberfest, Mayor Henry Maier envisioned something similar to kick off Milwaukee’s festival season. Beginning in 1983, the City of Festivals Parade opened Milwaukee’s summer festivals and celebrated the city’s ethnic diversity. Every June, high school bands and floats featuring ethnic dances and musicians wound their…
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City of Pewaukee

The building that was home to this Rexall Drug Store in 1937 still stands in Pewaukee today. It is currently home to a pet supply store.
The City of Pewaukee is located approximately seventeen miles west of Milwaukee in WAUKESHA COUNTY. It surrounds the independently governed VILLAGE OF PEWAUKEE, which in 1876 voted to separate from the Town of Pewaukee (initially established by the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature in 1840). Self-promoted as “The City in the Country,” the sprawling City of Pewaukee…
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City of St. Francis

Neighbors in the Town of Lake resisted the incorporation of St. Francis starting in the 1920s because the new city would take with it tax revenues from the Lakeside Power Plant.
At 2.55 square miles, the City of St. Francis is one of the smallest suburbs by area in MILWAUKEE COUNTY. According to early white settlers, native residents called the area “Nojoshing,” possibly meaning “strip of land extending into the water.” When the territorial government divided Milwaukee County into townships, Nojoshing became part of the Town…
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Civil Defense

Published by the Milwaukee County Office of Civil Defense in 1956, this map shows evacuation routes in the event of a nuclear attack.
Civil defense was adopted as an important policy in postwar Milwaukee by Mayor Frank Zeidler. In 1948, fearing atomic warfare, Zeidler helped create the Civil Defense and Disaster Committee, and in 1952, city officials created the Department of Civil Defense. Milwaukee gained notoriety for comprehensive civil defense efforts which included over 3,000 volunteer “block wardens,”…
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Civil Disorder of 1967

A crowd of people walk past the Badger Paint store on Teutonia Avenue where Clifford McKissick was shot and killed during the civil disorder of 1967.
The Milwaukee civil disorder of 1967, often referred to as a riot, began on the evening of Sunday, July 30. By the following morning, confrontations on the city’s streets had essentially ended. Its brevity was the result of rapid, muscular responses by Milwaukee police, Mayor Henry Maier, and Wisconsin governor Warren Knowles, who sent in…
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Civil Rights

A group of protestors, led by Father James Groppi, participate in a welfare march from Milwaukee to Madison in 1969.
Milwaukee’s Civil Rights Movement was the culmination of longstanding efforts by African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and their white allies to improve social, political, and economic prospects for non-white Milwaukeeans. During the 1860s, a small group of African Americans struggled to win the franchise. With the arrival of thousands of Southern migrants during the Great…
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Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center

The current structure used by the VA Medical Center opened in 1966 and was named for Rep. Clement Zablocki in 1984. It is pictured here in 2015.
The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center is the direct descendant of the Northwestern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (NHDVS), established by Congress in 1865 to care for Union soldiers who had suffered disabling wounds or illnesses due to their service in the Civil War. The home was funded partly by…
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Clement Zablocki

Representative Zablocki speaks with President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House in this photograph from April 1968.
Clement J. Zablocki (1912-1983) represented Milwaukee’s South Side as a Democrat in the Wisconsin state senate from 1943 to 1948 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949 to 1983. Of Polish ancestry, Zablocki was a lifelong devotee of his community and his Catholic faith. He attended St. Vincent DePaul Parish School, Marquette University…
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COA Youth and Family Centers

The Children’s Outing Society was formed in 1906 by Florence Friend, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Black Kander, and other women from the Personal Relief Society, a social service organization active in Milwaukee’s Jewish community. The Society changed its name to the Children’s Outing Association (COA) in 1930. COA’s initial purpose was to improve the physical well-being of…
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Commercial Fishing

Jones Island residents stand in front of large fishing nets stretched out to dry.
Fish have long been an important part of Milwaukee’s diet and culture, perhaps most notably in the “Friday night fish fry.” The city’s commercial fishing industry expanded to meet the needs of local customers but never developed larger markets as did peers in other parts of the Great Lakes. Native American communities subsisted on fish…
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Commercial Landscapes

Taken in the 1880s, this block of Water Street between Wisconsin and Mason Streets features a wide variety of businesses, including a furniture store, saloon, tailor, printer and bindery, and bookstore.
The exchange of goods is fundamental to city life, and the shape of commercial activity in Milwaukee reflects the geographic expansion of the city and the economic, technological, and social patterns framing the city’s development over time. Modern Milwaukee began as a series of competing settlements on the Milwaukee River and grew into a major…
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Common Council

In this photo, the 1898-1899 Common Council members gather in the council chambers. Until 1956, Milwaukee's Common Council members were all white males.
Milwaukee attained its official municipal status in 1846. As with many fundamental urban changes of the era, the catalyst for transformation from village to city was a series of social crises and territorial fights. In little more than a decade, Milwaukee had grown from a mere trading post to a community that would reach 20,000…
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Communist Party

A large group of demonstrators gathered in Haymarket Square on February 13, 1930 to listen to Communist speakers, protest working conditions, and call for the recognition of the Soviet Union.
The Communist Party of America organized in the United States in 1919 was a split-off from the Socialist Party after the Russian Revolution. It was affiliated with the Communist International, often called the Third International, which advocated for world communist revolutions to overthrow capitalism. The Communist Party of Wisconsin organized as a statewide branch of…
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Photograph of the Grand Avenue Congregational Church. After serving the Congregationalist community for 150 years, the church closed in 1997 and is now the headquarters of Milwaukee Irish Cultural Center.
Descended from New England Puritanism, Congregationalism arrived in Wisconsin in 1830 with a mission to the Stockbridge Indians. Congregational ministers soon multiplied, aided by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the American Home Missionary Society (AHMS). Although Wisconsin’s early Congregationalists cooperated with their better-funded Presbyterian counterparts, local Congregational churches quickly asserted their…
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