Roller Skating

Click the image to learn more. Three children roller skate down a Milwaukee street in this photograph from October 1943.

From 1900 through the 1940s, Milwaukee’s well-to-do often laced up their roller skates for an evening of “fashionable amusement” at the local skating rinks, most notably the Riverview and the Palomar.[1] The former, overlooking the Milwaukee River on North Avenue, offered ladies’ instruction in both plain and fancy skating in the afternoon and hosted the city’s elite for evening galas.[2] Skating lost its luster in the late 1940s and waned until “disco fever” and teenage skate-dancing revitalized the city’s rinks in the 1970s.[3] Roller-blading helped popularize skating as an outdoor activity in the 1990s, but the number of indoor rinks—predominately suburban and lacking the social significance of their predecessors—have declined in the Milwaukee area and nationwide.[4]

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ Jim Hazard, “Wheels of Joy,” Milwaukee Magazine (February 1996): 76-78; Advertisement for Riverview Rink, The Milwaukee Journal, October 9, 1912, accessed, April 28, 2014,
  2. ^ “Skating at Riverview,” The Milwaukee Journal, September 21, 1916, accessed March 19, 2014,,5135225; “Junior Leaguers and Escorts Show Roller Skating Skill,” The Milwaukee Journal, January 21, 1936, accessed March 19, 2014,,5195147.
  3. ^ Ed Lion, “Disco Craze Rolls into Skating Rinks,” The Milwaukee Sentinel, September 19, 1978, accessed February 3, 2014,,3619032.
  4. ^ Bill Milkowski, “Skating Fever Spreading across US,” The Milwaukee Journal, April 20, 1979, accessed February 3, 2014,,5819600; Annysa Johnson, “Time Rolling over Rinks,” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 21, 2008,, accessed February 3, 2014. According to the Milwaukee telephone directory, the area has seen a handful of rinks close, but seven remain as of 2014 compared with nine in 1985, according to the Milwaukee Telephone directory of that year.

For Further Reading

Hazard, Jim. “Wheels of Joy.” Milwaukee Magazine (February 1996): 76-78.


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