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Showing 41-59 of 59 entries


Photograph showcasing a forested path that runs through Greenfield Park.
Milwaukee, like many cities in the United States, grew rapidly throughout the nineteenth century. Civic attention was generally focused on how to accommodate industry and manufacturing. The competition over urban space resulted in high concentrations of industry, followed by densely populated neighborhoods of workers and their families. Parks were not seen as a valuable use…
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An anti-war crowd gathers at UWM in May 1970 during a month that witnessed the invasion of Cambodia by U.S. military forces and the shooting of student protestors at Kent State University by National Guard troops.
Peace. A word considered by both religious and secular society as an ideal condition for human well-being. Too often, the concept of peace itself is linked to war or stopping war, with less focus on how societies achieve well-being. Peace scholars define peace as an absence: of war and physical or institutional violence. People who…
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Campaign posters cover this brick wall on Wells Street in 1932. Candidates include Benson for Sheriff, Joseph Shinners for Sheriff, Raymond Cannon for Congress, and Zabel for District Attorney.
Over the course of its political history, Milwaukee has experienced four distinct “party systems,” lasting approximately forty years apiece. During each system, two or more opposing parties have competed, with core constituencies based upon personal identity, ideology, and reactions to state, national, and international developments. Each period began and ended with a “realigning election,” differentiating…
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Public Policy

A man speaks at a podium to a crowd gathered for a hearing in regards to the Midtown public housing plant in the Milwaukee Common Council chambers in 1967.
The term public policy describes decisions by government that affect you as a citizen. To use the contemporary jargon of strategic planning and performance measurement, public policy is the output of government, different from inputs and outcomes. So, we might talk about the Waukesha County Executive proposing to the County Board a new public policy…
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Public Policy Forum

A watchful presence in Milwaukee for over 100 years, the Public Policy Forum provides independent analysis on a variety of public policy issues.
Milwaukee’s Public Policy Forum is a non-partisan, government watchdog group that since its 1913 founding has continuously provided independent, non-partisan research and analysis of local municipalities’ activities and public policy issues. From its founding until today, the group has wielded great influence with local governments and in the media. The Forum earned a reputation for…
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Public Works

A Milwaukee public works truck lays down salt on Downer Avenue in 1988.
The Department of Public Works is one of the largest administrative divisions of Milwaukee’s city government, but this was not always so. Even after the city incorporated in 1846, officials only gradually expanded government services to meet the needs of citizens. By 1871, the city had no water works, few paved streets, and a very…
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Republican Party

Republican John Kleczka served as a Wisconsin State Senator from 1909-1911 and a U.S. Representative from 1919-1923 before serving as a circuit court judge in Milwaukee. He was the first Polish-American elected to the the House of Representatives.
The Milwaukee Republican Party (MRP) was founded during the tumultuous 1850s as the nation was careening headlong into the Civil War. In a bewildering sequence, the Great Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Kansas Civil War, and the Dred Scott decision cumulatively obliterated all federal control over the expansion of slavery. Restoring that authority was the…
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Social Development Commission

Since 1963, the SDC has served as a community action agency in Milwaukee and provided resources for individuals to move beyond poverty.
The Social Development Commission (SDC) is the largest of eighteen members of the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association, with responsibility to develop and oversee programs designed to improve the quality of life for low-income Milwaukeeans. Created in 1963 by state statute, the Commission involved the collaboration of civic organizations including the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee…
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The Socialists' ardent support for the labor movement is evidenced here by Mayor Daniel Hoan's speech before hundreds of strikers at the Seaman Auto Body plant.
Many German immigrants came to Milwaukee in the mid-nineteenth century influenced by the doctrines of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, and Ferdinand Lassalle. And in the process, they came to form the core of Milwaukee socialists. Holding their early meetings in German, this informal socialist Vereinigung (or association) initially did not expand to the wider community.…
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Solomon Juneau

Portrait of Milwaukee founder Solomon Juneau at age 60, originally from an oil painting.
Milwaukee co-founder Laurent Solomon Juneau was born on August 9, 1793 at Repentigny, a small farming village near Montreal. Juneau entered the fur trade as a teenager, working (perhaps) for the Hudson’s Bay Company before becoming an independent agent based in Prairie du Chien. In 1818 the young voyageur met Jacques Vieau, a well-established trader…
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Established in the late 1860s, the Wisconsin Seaman's Friend Society aimed to provide sailors with affordable lodgings away from the influences of gambling, drinking, and prostitution. This Temperance House stood on Erie Street.
Temperance, or the crusade against alcohol in Jacksonian and antebellum America, resulted in the first support groups for alcoholics, the first local license laws, and then (in the 1850s and mostly in the Northeast and Midwest) statewide laws banning the manufacture and sale of liquor. The movement coincided with the settlement of Wisconsin and Milwaukee,…
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Territorial Jurisdiction

1821 map of the Great Lakes and Northwestern Territories, when Wisconsin was part of the Michigan Territory. The red lines indicate the route taken by Lewis Cass, governor of the Michigan Territory, in 1820.
The Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolution, recognized the legal jurisdiction of the United States over lands north of the Ohio River. For the next sixty-five years, the area that became Milwaukee fell under the jurisdiction of various federal territories. Although the authority of the federal government over what would become Wisconsin…
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Transportation Policy

Automobiles, a horse and buggy, and trolleys share the road on E. Wisconsin Avenue in the early twentieth century.
Milwaukee sits at the confluence of three rivers: the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic on Lake Michigan’s western shore, some eighty miles north of Chicago. This location has always been central to its appeal. The first sailing vessel to dock on its shores arrived in 1778, seventy years before Wisconsin became a state. For centuries, native…
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Urban Renewal

Photograph of an demolished lot and other housing structures on W. Fond Du Lac Avenue that were eventually torn down and replaced by the Hillside Housing Development.
In Milwaukee, urban renewal largely took place between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, primarily in Midtown and adjoining neighborhoods during the mayoralty of Henry W. Maier. In preceding decades, due in large part to the economic stagnation and dislocation caused by the Great Depression and World War II, significant portions of Milwaukee’s infrastructure had…
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1889 photograph of survivors of Co. H, 11th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry taken during the 23rd national encampment of the G.A.R. in Milwaukee.
The most remarkable reminder of the presence of veterans in Milwaukee is the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center (WMC), which was built on the downtown lakefront as a “living memorial” to veterans. Finished in 1957, the War Memorial building is the home of the Milwaukee Art Museum, while the non-profit organization that administers the WMC…
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Victor L. Berger

Seated portrait of Victor Berger taken in 1905.
Newspaperman, co-founder of the Socialist Party, and first Socialist U.S. Congressman, Victor L. Berger (1860-1929) created the party apparatus that shaped Milwaukee politics for a half century. Berger fought for free speech, opposed war, and advocated for programs ranging from old-age pensions to Milwaukee’s public parks. Berger believed that change would come through evolution and…
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Water Policy

The grand architecture of Milwaukee's 1939 Water Purification Plant reflected the city's investment in clean water.
Water policy in Milwaukee has evolved with both changes in scientific knowledge and federal law; as understanding of the ecological role of water systems and legal acknowledgement of hierarchical structures in the use of those systems has changed, so has the focus of Milwaukee’s water policy. Like other cities in the nineteenth century, whether extant…
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Whig Party

Front page of a leaflet announcing a Whig meeting at the Milwaukee County Courthouse on June 26, 1841.
This political party’s influence in Milwaukee, first apparent in the late 1830s, was circumscribed because of the city’s substantial foreign-born population. German and Irish voters tended to align themselves with the Democratic Party against the Yankee-dominated Whigs, who were seen as nativists and temperance advocates. Over the course of the 1840s and 1850s, Milwaukee Whigs…
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William Beck

William Beck was appointed Milwaukee’s first police chief in 1855 after a series of arsons, thefts, and murders. German-born, Beck migrated to New York, serving as a police officer before becoming a farmer in the Town of Granville outside of Milwaukee. He served as a deputy sheriff for two years before beginning an on-again/off-again span…
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