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Milwaukee: Recent History And Propaganda

April 10, 2007

I don’t work for the Milwaukee’s Chamber of Commerce, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for Laverne and Shirley‘s hometown. Because of this I paid attention when my local newspaper ran an article, in its travel section I believe, expounding on the merits of one of Wisconsin’s greatest cities.

Also, due to the geographic location of my friend and sometime H&E contributor, Christopher Miller, I thought perhaps our readers would like to know something about his adopted hometown (and dissertation topic). Below are some excerpts from the article:

– “Milwaukee still loves beer. But arts, culture, museums and festivals are on tap, too. That’s the image Milwaukee officials are trying to promote in an effort to attract more tourists. ‘In a sense we have it all,’ said Dave Fantle, spokesman for Visit Milwaukee, which markets the area. ‘We have it all in a neat package. It’s a matter of getting our arms around that package and promoting it and letting the world know about all the attributes that are here in Milwaukee.’ “
– “Milwaukee is the state’s largest city. Often called “Brew City,” it was settled largely by Germans, many of whom started breweries — Miller, Blatz, Schlitz and Pabst. The professional baseball team was even named the Brewers. Although Miller is the only one of the big beer companies still based in Milwaukee, the city has a handful of microbreweries, brew pubs and a variety of tours for beer-lovers.”
– “Other types of manufacturing were also a big part of Milwaukee’s history from its 1846 inception. Many companies, including Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls and Briggs & Stratton still remain. But Milwaukee’s focus started to slowly change after the recession of the 1980s, when many factories closed, said Milwaukee historian John Gurda.”
– “In turn there was a renewed interest in culture, with investment in the downtown area, including a mall called The Shops at Grand Avenue, which was a catalyst for other development, Gurda said. Now, people are walking the downtown sidewalks several times a year for gallery nights, there’s a vibrant theater scene and new restaurants pop up constantly. There are also cultural festivals along the lakefront, like Summerfest, which bills itself as the world’s largest music festival. ‘By no means are we doomed to forever be beer and brats,’ Gurda said. ‘Books and ballet are part of it. That message will, in incremental steps, get out as well.’ “
– “Beer. Milwaukee has three operating breweries with tours: Miller Brewing Company, 4251 W. State St.,, 414-931-2337; Lakefront Brewery, 1872 N. Commerce St.,, 414-372-8800; and Sprecher, 701 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale,, 414-964-2739. Downtown brew pubs are the Milwaukee Ale House, 233 N. Water St.,; Water Street Brewery, 1101 N. Water St., and Rock Bottom Brewery, 740 N. Plankinton Ave., The Old German Beer Hall offers beer brewed in Munich and German festival food at 1009 N. Old World Third St.,, 414-226-2728. A boat called the Brew City Queen takes passengers on a “weekend brewery tour,” June-October, $25 (must be 21 or older); or 414-283-9999. Oktoberfest in downtown Milwaukee is Sept. 28-29. Also of interest: The Pabst Mansion, the 1892 home of beer baron Frederick Pabst, 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave.,”
– “Art. Milwaukee’s cultural transformation got a boost in 2001 when Calatrava, a world-famous architect, created his first North American design in a gleaming white addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Since then, residents and city officials have adopted the movable, winged sunscreen atop the museum as its status symbol. It’s shown up as the backdrop in local newscasts, on tourism brochures and commercials. It also was used by several national car companies and tech companies. On view now at the museum is an exhibit called ‘Francis Bacon: Paintings from the 1950s.’ ”

The rest of the article discussed a few summertime “fests,” but those discussions were brief – and not as inclusive as I would’ve liked. My favorite fests include Irish Fest and Bastille Days, but the entire list is located here.

. . . And now I’m removing my Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce cap. – TL


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