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Quarries and Mines

This Certified Concrete quarry facility, pictured here in 1934, was once located on the north side of State Street, east of N. 68th Street. The company used crushed stone to make concrete.
The mineral resources of southeast Wisconsin are derived primarily from the Silurian and Devonian bedrock, which dates back to more than 350 million years ago, and various glacial deposits, which were emplaced about 13,000 to 15,000 years ago as glaciers retreated from the Midwest. Silurian Dolostone is the dominant quarried rock, coming from the near… Read More

Regal Ware Worldwide

Regal Ware employees are gathered together for a group photograph inside the Kewaskum factory.
A privately owned producer of aluminum and stainless steel cookware, Regal Ware Worldwide is headquartered in Washington County. The company employs about 300 workers at its corporate and manufacturing facilities in Kewaskum and West Bend. In 2014, over half of Regal Ware’s sales of its American-made products were in foreign markets. Founded by James O.… Read More

Rexnord Corporation

Zurn Industries, a subsidiary of the Rexnord Corporation, is located in Milwaukee's Reed Street Yards and serves as Rexnord's corporate headquarters.
The Rexnord Corporation came about due to a merger in 1970 and over time has become a major supplier of power transmission machinery and water management systems. During the last four decades this company has undergone numerous ownership changes but has maintained its profitability by actively diversifying its product lines and cultivating a strong international… Read More

Robert “Bob” Schilling

Portrait of Robert Schilling, a prominent Milwaukee labor leader and politician in the late nineteenth century.
Robert Schilling (1843-1922) was a significant labor leader and reformist politician in Milwaukee in the late nineteenth century. Born in Osterburg, Saxony, Schilling migrated with his family to St. Louis in 1846. He began work as a cooper at thirteen, and, fluent in both German and English, quickly became a prominent leader of the Coopers’… Read More

Schlitz Brewing Company

Postcard featuring the Schlitz Brewing company plant.
The Schlitz Brewing Company (1849-1982) was one of Milwaukee’s industrial brewing giants. Marketed as “the beer that made Milwaukee famous,” Schlitz was an important innovator in the national brewing industry and the largest brewery in the United States for a significant part of the twentieth century. The Schlitz Brewing Company originated in August Krug’s pioneer… Read More


Picketers try to prevent a car from entering the Allis-Chalmers factory, November 25, 1946.  United Auto Workers Local 248 waged a 13-month strike against the company from April 1946 to May 1947.  This picture was in company testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, February 24, 1947, alleging the union was dominated by Communists.
The U.S. Department of Labor defines a labor strike as “a temporary stoppage of work by a group of workers (not necessarily union members) to express a grievance or enforce a demand.” The prevalence of strike action has waxed and waned over the course of Milwaukee and the nation’s history, as particular industries have grown… Read More

The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company (TMER&L)

An electric streetcar heads north on Holton Street near E. Garfield Avenue in the early half of the twentieth century.
TMER&L Co. was the first electric streetcar company in the city of Milwaukee. It commenced service in 1890 under the name “The Milwaukee Street Railway,” a business incorporated in New Jersey and owned by the North American Company of New Jersey (an umbrella entity with other municipal streetcar holdings). In that year, North American’s owner,… Read More


In 1902, Prince Henry of Prussia visited the United States. The younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II is seen here in his carriage in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee has hosted many visitors for organizational meetings, major conventions, and personal or business travel throughout its history. The city’s tourism industry grew along with the city, as an array of businesses, organizations, and civic leaders worked both independently and together to attract, accommodate, and ultimately profit from these guests. Milwaukee’s earliest visitors were often… Read More

William George Bruce

Portrait of William George Bruce sitting at his desk during his tenure as president of the Milwaukee Harbor Board of Commissioners between 1920 and 1949.
William George Bruce (1856-1949), a publisher and civic activist from a largely German North Side ward, was born to Augustus F. and Apollonia (Becker) Bruce on March 17, 1856. Bruce’s paternal grandfather had moved to Milwaukee from New York in 1842, four years before cityhood. A hip ailment left young William an invalid at the… Read More


1945 photograph of Allis-Chalmers employees assembling WC model tractors in West Allis, highlighting the importance of both heavy manufacturing and agriculture in the Milwaukee area.
“Milwaukee is a workingman’s city,” wrote Frank Flower in his massive 1881 History of Milwaukee. Flower described a community of tradesmen, machinists, and laborers where a typical worker could enjoy, even on wages of a dollar or two a day, “good air, good water, cheap living, and a chance to found a home of his… Read More

Workers’ Movements

A group of workers from the Edwards Motor Company picket with strike signs on Wisconsin Avenue in 1937.
Throughout most of its history, the Milwaukee area has been characterized for its manufacturing and blue collar heritage that molded much of its character. The industrialization that began after the Civil War required the muscles and brains of thousands of working people; to fill the demands of production. Budding entrepreneurs encouraged workers to come to… Read More


A group of men work to lay streetcar tracks along N. 8th Street in 1919.
A “workforce,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, encompasses the “People engaged in or available for work, either in a country or region or in a particular company or industry; workers or employees collectively.” For the purposes of this article, therefore, we consider the kinds of work people in the Milwaukee area have done for… Read More