Gas Company Flame

The iconic Gas Company Flame was added on top of the ESCHWEILER-designed WISCONSIN GAS BUILDING in 1956.[1] Standing 21 feet and weighing 4 tons,[2] the beacon[3] provides navigational light for Lake Michigan vessels and indicates the local weather forecast by its color.[4] The flame contained neon and argon tubing,[5] but by spring 2014 was replaced with LED lights that saved operational costs and allowed a greater variety of displays.[6] The flame was turned off from 1973 through 1985 because of the energy crisis but has otherwise been one of the most prominent landmarks of the Milwaukee skyline.[7]

A short poem helps interpret the flame’s color-coded forecast. There are several variations, but this is one of the most common:

When the flame is red, warm weather is ahead.
When the flame is gold, watch out for cold.
When the flame is blue, there’s no change in view.
When there’s a flickering flame, expect snow or rain.

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ Molly Snyder, “Up Close and Personal with the Wisconsin Gas Light Building ‘Flame,’OnMilwaukee, last modified September 5, 2011, accessed October 7, 2013.
  2. ^ Snyder, “Up Close and Personal.”
  3. ^ Joseph J. Korom, Milwaukee Architecture: A Guide to Notable Buildings (Madison, WI: Prairie Oak Press, 1995), 15.
  4. ^ Doors Open Milwaukee, “Gas Light Building,” Historic Milwaukee, Inc., accessed October 7, 2013.
  5. ^ Korom, Milwaukee Architecture, 15.
  6. ^ Bobby Tanzilo, “Urban Spelunking: (Re)visiting the Wisconsin Gas Flame,” OnMilwaukee, last modified August 6, 2013, Accessed October 7, 2013.
  7. ^ Snyder, “Up Close and Personal.”

For Further Reading

Doors Open Milwaukee. “Gas Light Building.” Historic Milwaukee, Inc. Accessed October 7, 2013.

Korom, Joseph J. Milwaukee Architecture: A Guide to Notable Buildings. Madison, WI: Prairie Oak Press, 1995.

Snyder, Molly. “Up Close and Personal with the Wisconsin Gas Light Building ‘Flame.’OnMilwaukee. Last modified September 5, 2011. Accessed October 7, 2013.

Tanzilo, Bobby. “Urban Spelunking: (Re)visiting the Wisconsin Gas Flame.” OnMilwaukee. Last modified August 6, 2013. Accessed October 7, 2013.


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