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Showing 41-60 of 65 entries

Milwaukee Police Department

Officers of the Milwaukee Police Department's motorcycle squad pose for a photograph around 1921.
As of 2013, the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) is the fifteenth largest in the United States, with nearly 2,000 sworn personnel and over eight hundred civilian employees. Operationally, the MPD is currently organized geographically into three bureaus (South, Central, and North) subdivided into seven patrol districts. Criminal investigations are conducted out of these bureaus, supported…
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Nike Anti-Aircraft Missiles

A newspaper clipping showing Milwauke air defenses during the early stages of the Cold War.
Milwaukee was one of a handful of Midwestern cities equipped with launching stations for Nike anti-aircraft missiles during the 1950s and 1960s. Milwaukee’s defense ring consisted of eight sites, including the lakefront Maitland airstrip. Each site housed up to twelve radar-controlled rockets capable of shooting down planes traveling at supersonic speeds. Beginning in 1958, the…
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Non-Partisan Elections

This early twentieth century campaign poster encourages people to elect Peter Kaminski as a Milwaukee alderman and promises a "Clean Non-Partisan Administration."
The impetus for non-partisan elections at the local level in Wisconsin originated with a fear among Milwaukee Republicans and Democrats that their Socialist competitors might become a sustained political alternative following the election of Emil Seidel in the 1910 mayoral election. Two years later, during the next campaign for mayor, Republicans and Democrats united behind…
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Oak Creek Law

This map of Milwaukee County from 2006 illustrates the many towns and villages that compose the Iron Ring around the city of Milwaukee that developed as a result of the Oak Creek Law.
The Oak Creek Law narrowly passed the Wisconsin State Legislature in 1955. It dramatically reduced population density requirements for “fourth class city” status within any county containing a “first-class city” (exclusively Milwaukee County in 1955), thereby making it much easier for towns bordering the City of Milwaukee (such as Oak Creek) to incorporate. Residents in…
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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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Relief and Welfare

Four women work to make crochet rugs as part of the Milwaukee Handicraft Project. Begun in 1935, the project was designed to provide women with employment during the Great Depression.
Throughout its history Milwaukee has seen shifting and complex interplays among local, state, and federal government policies regarding support provided to needy families through work relief and financial aid welfare payments. Three periods in the last century highlight competing theories about work relief and welfare support that operated in Milwaukee. In the Great Depression years…
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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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Structure of Local Government

This map of Wisconsin from 1846, two years before it became a state, illustrates how large some counties originally were. Note the absence of Ozaukee, Waukesha, and Kenosha counties.
Any conversation regarding local government in Wisconsin must begin—and ultimately conclude—with mention of the State (or, to be more precise, of the territories of Michigan or Wisconsin, succeeded in time by the State of Wisconsin). In essence, either the state constitution or its statutes determine the purposes, powers, and prerogatives of local governments, down to…
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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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