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The 42 biggest moments in modern Milwaukee history

April 23, 2012

No offense to Solomon Juneau, Byron Kilbourn and the rest of the gang, but their stories aren’t the only ones worth repeating in this town. A lot has happened since those guys staged the Bridge Wars that settled Milwaukee. In fact, some really big things have taken place in the last 40 years alone. We’ve chronicled the 42 biggest news, sports and cultural moments over the last four decades, dating back to 1970.

The Calatrava: A New City Symbol

By Anthony Petullo, Milwaukee Art Museum trustee

Arriving in Milwaukee in 1968 in my late 20s, I noticed right away that the people of Milwaukee are extremely generous with their time and their resources. It didn’t take long for me to absorb and be inspired by the civic pride that to me defines this great city. And the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum is a marvelous example of the people of Milwaukee coming together to get things done.

In January 1994, the Milwaukee Art Museum announced a $1 million gift from Milwaukee-born philanthropist and art collector Walter H. Annenberg. Our own noted entrepreneur, art collector and Milwaukee Art Museum trustee and donor Richard B. Flagg had flown to California to encourage Annenberg to make the gift that would become the initial seed money for the planning and development of the much-needed museum facilities improvement.

Thus began my journey in this incredible story.

In 1999, during the construction of the Quadracci Pavilion, museum trustee and volunteer committees were established. As a trustee, I was asked to chair the marketing committee, whose goal it was to create excitement about the museum expansion. We promised the community that the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum would be an international architectural destination, bringing tourists and attention and expanding the city’s potential. The new addition would enhance Milwaukee’s lakefront, and be a great source of civic pride.

I enlisted marketing directors from several major Milwaukee corporations, who all enthusiastically agreed to help. We spoke to community and civic groups, along with museum staff, and made visual presentations of the finished construction. Our publicly stated objective was to make the Quadracci Pavilion the new symbol of the city of Milwaukee, replacing Milwaukee’s outdated and clichéd national image. Together, we worked to see this vision through, and it was inspiring to see so many business and community leaders rally around a single goal.

Ten years after the museum’s October 2001 grand opening, I think the goal has been achieved. Visitors have come from every state and dozens of foreign countries to see this remarkable, soaring masterpiece. But the most important visitors, in my mind, are the citizens of our own community, many of whom have never visited the museum before.

Finally, a most remarkable thing has happened: The museum has become a meeting place for Milwaukeeans to bring out-of-town visitors, friends and family to gather in awe and wonder, and a place where our local businesses, civic groups, chambers of commerce and arts organizations want to host events or hold performances. All of Milwaukee is taking ownership of this defining attraction, because as a community, we take pride in it. It is our community’s greatest treasure.

Milwaukee is now viewed as the city with a truly great 21st century work of art — the Milwaukee Art Museum. I’m proud to have been a part of its creation, and continue to be in awe at its beauty and brilliance.

In the Land of Cheese

In a way, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense: how did the Dairy State, known for putting out internationally acclaimed artisan cheeses, end up with this moniker — a cheese-wedge hat made of foam?

We can thank Illinoisans for birthing the term "cheesehead," as a derogatory (or so they say; there are worse things to be called than fromage, yes?) term for fans of Wisconsin professional sports teams.

Ralph Bruno spun the term on its head and made the first-ever Cheesehead hat out of foam pieces removed from his mother’s couch. The very-homemade hat made its first appearance in 1987 at a Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago White Sox game. More slick versions were debuted by Bruno shortly after. Since their debut, the hats have been conceptualized and administered out of a tiny office — run by Bruno’s company, Foamation Inc. — on Packard Avenue in St. Francis, just a few blocks in from Lake Michigan.

And who knew cheese could be so controversial? According to ABC News, Foamation Inc. recently threatened legal action if a billboard was erected featuring The Grim Reaper sporting a Cheesehead, with the words, "Warning: Cheese Can Sack Your Health. Fat. Cholesterol. Sodium." Today, after painting over the Cheesehead with black and gray paint, the sign is now up along Highway 41 in De Pere. Something tells me the legions of Packers fans in the stands at Lambeau Field, proudly wearing the eponymous Cheesehead hats, are willing to take the risk.

— Kristine Hansen

Chaos Over Budget Bill

Just six weeks after taking office in 2011, Gov. Scott Walker introduced a controversial budget repair bill that called for public workers to give up most bargaining rights and contribute more for health care and pension costs. The governor said the move was necessary to address a $137 million deficit in the state budget and a looming $3.6 billion budget shortfall by 2013.

The bill instantly polarized politicians and teachers statewide, with upwards of 40,000 protestors flooding the Capitol over several weeks — by far the largest demonstrations in the history of Madison, and possibly the history of the state. The scope and intensity of the protests drew national media attention.

Despite warnings of "disciplinary action" from MPS superintendent Gregory Thornton, nearly 600 Milwaukee teachers staged a "sick-out" in order to attend the demonstrations on Feb. 16, forcing the district to cancel classes and shut down more than 200 city schools.

In an attempt to delay passage of the bill, 14 Democratic state senators fled the state — a ploy that left the Republicans without the three-fifths-present quorum required to vote on bills.

After more than three weeks of protests, Republicans pushed the budget repair bill through the Assembly, and Walker signed the bill into law on March 11, 2011. Shortly after, Judge Maryann Sumi struck down the law, ruling it was passed in violation of the Open Meetings Law. The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned that ruling on June 14.

The controversial legislation led to recall elections against six Republican state senators, including Alberta Darling of River Hills, and three Democrat state senators. That recall campaign ultimately failed with four of the six Republican incumbents defeating their challengers in August 2011. In January, opponents of Scott Walker filed the 1 million signatures needed to organize a recall election against the governor.

— Rebecca Konya

Bradley Center
1001 N. 4th St.

Year Built: 1988

Claim to Fame: In addition to Milwaukee Bucks, Marquette Golden Eagles games and Milwaukee Admirals games, the Bradley Center has played host to countless other sporting events and notable concerts, such as Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band and Billy Joel.

Significance: When the Bradley Center opened it was new, unique and state of the art. My how things can change in a little over two decades. Now, by NBA standards at least, the Bradley Center is considered a relic, an outdated arena unable to generate the necessary revenue to help keep the Bucks competitive. Bucks owner and U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl has floated the idea of a publicly funded arena, but the idea of supporting another professional franchise in a tough economy with public money is not palatable to many.

While the future of the Bradley Center and the Bucks hangs in the balance, the Golden Eagles are enjoying the best of times. The Bradley Center, the college launching pad of NBA All Star Dwyane Wade, plays host to many of the top teams in Big East Conference basketball games.

Coach Buzz Williams and the Golden Eagles are enjoying a tremendous season and are poised for a run in the NCAA tournament.

— Bob Gosman

Jeffrey Dahmer Case a Gruesome Discovery

By Anne E. Schwartz

When I share the events of the night of July 22, 1991, I am struck by how long ago it seems in the retelling. No cell phones. No Internet. No instantaneous social media. Just me, a note pad and quarters for a pay phone. The whispered tip call to my home phone provided me the reporter’s dream — the tip that leads to a story that becomes international news. Remembering back to that night, the report of human remains of multiple victims discovered in an apartment in the shadow of Marquette University seemed incredulous.

When I pulled up to Dahmer’s building, it clearly was not the crime scene to which I was accustomed on my daily rounds on the police beat. There were few onlookers and no other media there. Out front, a fire engine’s red strobe lights pierced the darkness. I got inside the building and eventually inside the apartment where the looks on the faces of the responding officers told the story. From then on, I would spend months and years telling their stories — and mine. I was told about the gruesome discoveries, about the details that shocked those investigators inured to crime. The details of Dahmer’s crimes would become fodder for quickie books, TV movies and black humor among cops and the community alike.In the wake of the sensational, was the reality of life in the city of Milwaukee after the discovery of a serial killer. Before the Dahmer case, the city suffered angst over its association with "Laverne & Shirley," the fictional brewery workers featured on a TV sitcom. Post-Dahmer, the angst changed. He gave Milwaukee a kind of international acclaim no city welcomes. If you lived here in the summer of 1991, you know that we were all forced to look at ourselves and our attitudes about race and sex. No one enjoyed the view.

As for the biggest story I ever covered as a reporter, I continue to be amazed when groups around the country ask me to come and share my experience inside the case of Jeffrey Dahmer. I speak often to law enforcement about how to deal with the media when the police have to message news of a serial killer to their communities — something akin to being the character in "Catch Me If You Can," where the former bank forger ends up helping the FBI. I learned much covering the story — at the hands of editors who taught me how to be a better reporter, cops who taught me to be an investigator and victims’ family members who taught me more than a thing or two about sensitivity.

The emotions of the relatives of Dahmer’s victims are inestimable compared to the emotions experienced by reporters or to those who simply lived in the same city. But to varying degrees, all the participants in the case of Jeffrey Dahmer were victims in some way, and we all carry the scars.

Anne E. Schwartz is the spokesperson and communications director for the Milwaukee Police Department and is the author of the book, "The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough: The Secret Murders of Milwaukee’s Jeffrey Dahmer."

McGuire coaches Marquette to '77 NCAA Championship

For Marquette University, the 1977 basketball season was not all "seashells and balloons," the kaleidoscopic phrase used by poet/philosopher/head coach Al McGuire to describe utopia.

"It was a tough year for us. A lot of people doubted us," says Bo Ellis, who started at power forward. "We got booed that year because people weren’t used to losing all these games. I only lost 18 in the four years that I played at Marquette. "

The Warriors lost just twice the previous season, which ended with a loss to Indiana in the Elite Eight.

"Even though we lost seven games that year, all very close games, there was no doubt in our minds how good we were," Ellis says. "Coach McGuire never let us forget that."

These were magical times for Marquette, which during Ellis’ tenure reached the national finals twice and the quarterfinals in three out of four seasons.

"We just had great players, a lot of high school All-Americans," Ellis recalls. "Every team that I played for at Marquette always felt like we could win the national championship."

"You also have to give credit to (assistant coaches) Hank Raymonds and Rick Majerus in their preparation."

"Hank and Al had a great working relationship. Al was the master of strategic game management. Hank and Rick were the masters of game preparations. We had a tremendous game plan for everyone we played."

McGuire, who billed himself as "an Einstein of the streets and an Oxford scholar of common sense" knew which buttons to push or not to push with his mixed bag of talent.

"Coach just knew who he could holler at, who he could challenge, that was one of his specialties," Ellis says. "Earl Tatum was a great player but he would go into a shell if he got yelled at."

"Coach knew he could challenge Lloyd Walton because he wanted Lloyd to fight him then turn on the rest of us to get it done," Ellis says.

The Warriors qualified for the NCAA tournament, and after two close calls, a one-point win over Kansas State in the second round and a heart-stopping victory at the buzzer when Butch Lee threw a full court pass to Jerome Whitehead who scored as time expired to lead MU over UNC-Charlotte in the semifinals, Marquette faced Dean Smith’s vaunted North Carolina Tarheels in the championship game.

Led by Lee’s 19 points and 14 apiece from Ellis and current Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Jim Boylan, Marquette won the championship game. For one of the few times anyone can remember, McGuire, coaching his last game (he had announced plans to retire the previous December) was speechless, sitting alone on the bench, his face buried in his hands, crying.

"I loved that moment more than I loved anything," Ellis says.

The team flew back to Milwaukee from Atlanta later that night, arriving around 2 a.m. "People were wall to wall, from the gate all the way to baggage claim," Ellis recalls.

Two days later, there was a ticker-tape victory parade down Wisconsin Avenue from the MU campus to the lakefront.

"It was just great seeing the way the people in Milwaukee responded," Ellis says. "How happy they were at what we were able to accomplish."

— Mark Concannon

Milwaukee Mile Silenced; Wave is Saved; Mustangs Reincarnated

• Though its future is in flux, the Milwaukee Mile captured a significant spot in racing’s and Milwaukee’s sporting history. It all started in 1891 when the Agricultural Society of the state of Wisconsin purchased the land to create a permanent site for the Wisconsin State Fair. Eight years before the debut of the Indianapolis 500, the Mile played host to racing events, giving claim to it being the oldest, continually operating motor speedway in the country. As the decades progressed — from 1947 through 1980 — the Mile was the site of more national championship midget, stock and Indy car races than any other track in the nation. In 1984, NASCAR debuted at the Mile with what is now known as the Busch Series.

Over the years, legends of the sport such as Mario Andretti, Al Unser Sr., Bobby Rahal, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., A.J. Foyt, and Alan Kulwicki started their engines at the Mile.

In the latter part of the 2000s, the Mile fell on tough times. There were no major races at the track in 2010. IndyCar returned in 2011 but the race was not well attended. Still, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard remains committed to doing his best to bring IndyCar back to the Mile.

• The fan and family friendly Milwaukee Wave has carved out a unique niche in the city’s sports scene during the last 28 years. Its viability, though, was in grave doubt in 2009 with an owner looking to sell and no league to play in. Fortunately for Milwaukee area indoor soccer fans, Jim Lindenberg stepped to the plate to buy the team and the Wave found a new home in the National Indoor Soccer League.

Under the rock of the franchise – longtime coach and vice president of soccer operations Keith Tozer — the Wave advanced to the championship game in the 2009-2010 season. The next year, the Wave captured the fifth championship in franchise history.

The Wave has won more than 500 games and drawn more than 3 million fans. The Wave plans to continue winning games and connecting with its fans — on and off the field.

• The Milwaukee Mustangs didn’t win a game in its first season and still drew crowds of more than 10,000 per game. For some, the Mustangs helped fill the gap left by the Green Bay Packers, who stopped playing in Milwaukee that same year, 1994. The Mustangs quickly developed a loyal fan base and the team and Arena Football League grew in popularity. In 1996, the Mustangs led the Arena Football League in attendance.

But in 2001 the ride came to an abrupt end. The franchise lost the confidence of the AFL and the league elected to fold the team.

Milwaukee was without indoor football until 2009 when the new Milwaukee Iron joined Af2, the AFL’s developmental league. In 2011, the team joined the AFL and rebranded itself as the Milwaukee Mustangs. Preparations for the 2012 season are in full swing with the first home game scheduled for March 29.

— Bob Gosman

Tale of Two Sallys

Walking in to Sally’s Steak House in the Knickerbocker Hotel in the 1970s and ’80s, patrons never knew who they would might be rubbing elbows with: gangster, cop or celebrity. But perhaps the most famous of all was Sally’s owner, Sally Papia, who was legendary for her associations and for the exacting manner in which she ran the restaurant.

The Italian, Milwaukee-born Papia once described herself as famous, tough, mysterious and notorious and, indeed, she was all those things. Milwaukeeans ate up Papia’s exploits, from entertaining Milwaukee’s organized crime bosses, to her personal troubles with the law.

In her lifetime, she reportedly had been beaten, threatened, shot at, provided police protection and prosecuted. She was known to have dated a banker, a cop, an attorney and a leading Chicago mobster.

She was convicted of extortion in 1975 after threatening bodily harm to a former chef who allegedly owed her money. In 1989 she was convicted on federal charges of making illegal payments to a union so it would not organize her employees. According to a news story, before heading to federal prison, she said: "I’m far from being the Blessed Virgin Mother, but I never did anything to hurt anybody."

Papia was also involved in a long, public legal battle with her daughter, Candy, over control of the restaurant, which Papia lost. From 1994 to 1998 she ran Sally’s Meat ’N Place in Stone Bank and later opened the Savoy Room in the Shorecrest Hotel in 2003, which she ran until she and her daughter both died in a car accident in 2005.

— Janet Raasch

Pabst Theater
144 E. Wells St.

Year Built: 1895, and restored in 2001

Claim to Fame: In the early 20th century, it was home to one of the most accomplished German stage companies west of Berlin. A chandelier made of Austrian crystal hangs in the auditorium.

Significance: Built by brewing magnate Capt. Frederick Pabst in the tradition of a European opera house, the Pabst Theater earned National Historic Landmark status in 1991. Philanthropist Michael Cudahy, who donated $1 million to the renovation, ended up buying the theater from the city for $1. Today, the Pabst Theater is a centerpiece of Milwaukee’s downtown entertainment district.

"The original plaster work inside is a craft and form that you don’t see in contemporary buildings," Thomson says. ""There is a temptation to think of something (old) as something you can discard, but it was so significant that it was restored to its original splendor." 

— Bob Gosman

Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge

Spanning 1.9 miles, it connects I-794 to downtown

Year Built: Construction began in 1970 but did not open until 1977

Significance: During its arduous, delayed construction, it was the original "Bridge to Nowhere." Seven years elapsed between construction and the opening, in part because of public concern about the planned county freeway system. Once the bridge finally opened, it has played a vital role in the city’s history. "It had a big impact on the South Shore community and Bay View especially," Milwaukee historian John Gurda says. In 2000, the bridge partially collapsed.

Originally called the Harbor Bridge, the name was changed to honor one of Milwaukee’s longest-tenured mayors. Given its Milwaukee ties, it is ironic that it is featured in "The Blues Brothers," a movie synonymous with Chicago. 

— Bob Gosman

Fires Strike City Landmarks

The city’s East Side was rocked on April 24, 1988, when an arson fire claimed Century Hall, 2340 N. Farwell Ave. The club was much more than a venue for stellar live music by local and regional bands, some on their way up, and national acts, often on their way back down. It was a 100-year-old East Side gathering spot, where just about everybody felt at home. The only suspect in the arson died of an apparent suicide months later.

Arson was suspected in a fire that destroyed Pizza Man, another East Side icon, on Jan. 19, 2010. About 150 firefighters battled the four-alarm blaze throughout the early morning hours at the popular spot on the corner of Oakland and North as horrified neighbors looked on. The Cush Lounge, Grecian Delight restaurant and Black and White Café, also located in the building, were lost in the fire. Residents of the upstairs apartments managed to escape unharmed, but several firefighters were injured. In May 2011, a federal grand jury indicted the owner of the Black and White Café on arson charges, to which he pleaded not guilty.

Two adult brothers horsing around with a military grade flare on July 5, 2009, were subsequently convicted of starting a $50 million fire at the Patrick Cudahy meat packing plant. The flare, which landed on the plant’s roof, sparked a massive three-day inferno, the largest single-structure blaze in state history. At the height of the fire, Cudahy officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for nearby residents, as they feared ammonia vapors could escape from the plant and put neighbors in danger. When the smoke cleared, a 270,000-foot section of the plant had been destroyed and 600 workers had temporarily lost their jobs.

Joshua and Kurtis Popp, who apologized for accidentally causing the fire, were sentenced to three months in jail, three years probation and 500 hours of community service. The jail sentences were ordered to be served during the month of July for three years.

— Nan Bialek

Packers Leave County Stadium

Professional football had a heck of a run at the old Milwaukee County Stadium. From 1953 through 1994, the Green Bay Packers played two or three regular season games in Milwaukee each year, compiling a 76-47-3 record. The Ice Bowl, one of the most famous days in NFL history, is the game everyone remembers from 1967. But the Packers would have been out of the playoffs if they had not defeated the Los Angeles Rams the week before — in Milwaukee. It was the only time the Packers played host to a playoff game at County Stadium. In fact, County Stadium was the only NFL venue where both teams occupied the same sideline, with just a piece of tape for separation.

The last game in Milwaukee, on Dec. 18, 1994, was punctuated by Brett Favre’s dramatic touchdown run in the final seconds that kept the team’s playoff hopes alive. As the snow started to fall, there was a palpable sense among the spectators that they had just witnessed history.

That touchdown run proved to be cathartic for Packers fans upset that the team would play all its home games at Lambeau Field. "A lot of concern was washed away into elation and emotion after Brett scored that touchdown," said the late Jim Irwin, the former longtime "Voice of the Packers."

Milwaukee season ticket holders were offered one preseason game and two regular season games at Lambeau Field. For many of these fans, this proved to be their first opportunity to take part in the game-day festivities in the NFL’s smallest city with the most rabid fan base.

While some people long for the old days when the Packers still played in Milwaukee, the Lambeau Field compromise proved much better for area season ticket holders than the alternative. At the end of 2011, if you applied for season tickets, you would have to take your place behind 86,000 people.

— Bob Gosman

1970: Banner Year for the Milwaukee Bucks

By Jon McGlocklin

As told to Mark Concannon

We felt from the very beginning when we went to camp because they made the trade for Oscar, (guard Oscar Robertson) we believed we were the next champions.

It’s like the star was on us. And we all knew it. We just believed this was our year. Getting Oscar put us over the top. We had two of the 10 greatest players ever. I think we just knew. We won 52 games the year before when Kareem had joined us. We went from an expansion team winning 27. When Kareem joined us we went to 52 and we get Oscar and we felt we had the other pieces. We had really good role players in me and Bobby (forward Bobby Dandridge) and Greg Smith.

Oscar was like the maestro and would orchestrate the game. He could do everything, made everybody better and made us a championship team. Would we have won a championship without Oscar? No, I don’t think so.

Every game, we just dominated. The championship year, we won our first game and lost the next game. And then we won 15 straight. Then later at the end of the year, we ran 20 straight. We only won one of our last six games because Larry (head coach Larry Costello) stopped playing the starters, he started resting us. When the Bulls won 70 and I did that game, I remember thinking we could have won 70 or 71 easily.

You have to give Larry a lot of credit. What he really worked hard at all the years I played with him, for a guy who was a great defensive player, he really worked on offense. We would have additional plays, add-ons to plays to get the ball to Kareem. And we were a good defensive team and you had Kareem, our 7-footer in there to block shots. That’s your defensive anchor. Larry really perfected the offensive scheme to mostly get the ball to Kareem but to get everybody at their best offensively.

It was wonderful to be in a profession that you’ve done your entire life and having it be that significant and noteworthy and important. It was great fun. I think it caught this entire state by surprise also. It came so quickly. They have an expansion team and three years later they have a championship. Everybody got caught up in it. Everybody enjoyed it.

And I think that was demonstrated when we won the championship in Baltimore and came back to Milwaukee the next day. We didn’t fly charter flights in those days. I’ve heard estimates of 10,000 people at the airport. There were a lot of people that just unorganized, came out to see us. The police were there. It took four policemen to get me to the car. People responded wonderfully. It was tremendous.

I’m just so proud I was part of it. It’s been a blessing and privilege and for me to be with the Bucks every year and go in there every night and see that championship banner. It’s very special.

Archdiocese Embattled by Sex-Abuse Scandals

When allegations of widespread child sex abuse within the Catholic church came to light in the early 2000s, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee found itself deeply mired in the national scandal. At the center of the Milwaukee archdiocese’s troubles was former archbishop Rembert Weakland, who was accused of failing to report clergy sex abuse.

Following public testimony by victims before a combined session of the Wisconsin state Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committee in 2003, a detailed report revealed that allegations of sexual assault against minors had been made against 58 ordained men who were directly supervised by Weakland.

In a 1993 deposition made public in 2002, Weakland admitted to failing to stop sexually abusive priests, routinely shredding copies of weekly reports about ongoing problem priests and returning guilty priests to active duties without alerting parishioners or police. The revelations rocked the Milwaukee archdiocese, which Weakland had led since 1977.

Last January, facing more than 23 lawsuits brought by victims, the Milwaukee archdiocese filed for bankruptcy. The decision came three weeks after the archdiocese announced a breakdown in settlement talks with 24 men and women who had been molested as children. Before declaring bankruptcy in 2011, the archdiocese had paid out more than $29 million to settle 200 cases from the last 20 years.

Weakland wrote about his handling of clergy sex abuse in his 2010 memoir, "A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop." The book recounts Weakland’s life as a Benedictine monk, his struggles with his own homosexuality and his public fall from grace in Milwaukee.

Weakland stepped down as archbishop in 2002, shortly after Paul Marcoux, a former Marquette University theology student, revealed that he was paid $450,000 to settle a sexual assault claim against the archbishop more than two decades earlier. The money came from the archdiocese.

Last month more than 550 people filed sex-abuse claims against the archdiocese at the deadline to file as part of the archdiocese’s bankruptcy proceedings.

— Rebecca Konya

Third Ward builds on history

During the 1970s, when Milwaukee’s Third Ward was a blend of tumble-down warehouses and "Commission Row," a string of commission houses that wholesaled produce to grocery stores, the area was almost turned into the city’s "red light" district.

The area’s businesses stood together in opposition, however, and sparked an interest in rejuvenating the traditionally Irish and Italian neighborhood. Developers began to find new uses for empty warehouse space, converting the old buildings into lofts, condos and artists’ studios.

Led by a coalition of businesses, architects, preservationists and city leaders, a 10-square-block area was designated "The Historic Third Ward District" by the National Register of Historic places in 1984. That became a catalyst for investors and entrepreneurs to revitalize the Third Ward into a percolating creative, residential and retail powerhouse.

The old Commission Row on Broadway is now home to bustling hot spots like the Wicked Hop and Smoke Shack restaurants, and Anthropologie and Lela boutiques. The Milwaukee Public Market, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, dozens of charming specialty shops, galleries, spas and street festivals make the Historic Third Ward uniquely Milwaukee.

— Nan Bialek

Deep tunnel a questionable success

In the 1970s, Milwaukee sewers overflowed 50 to 60 times a year, threatening the water quality of the city’s public waterways, including Lake Michigan. During heavy rains, excess raw sewage mixed with storm water poured into local waterways or backed up into basements and homes.

Seeking to reduce water pollution in the city’s public water sources, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District mounted a Water Pollution Abatement Program in 1981 to increase the capacity of Milwaukee’s sewage treatment system. The construction of underground storage facilities to hold untreated sewage and storm water until it could be treated and returned to the lake emerged as the most cost-effective solution to reduce wastewater overflows.

With a $3 billion price tag, the Deep Tunnel is the most expensive public works project in Milwaukee history. It took two years to design the original Deep Tunnel and nine years to build the tunnel system, which was carved out of bedrock 300 feet underground. Stretching 19.4 miles, the Deep Tunnel went online in late 1993 with the capacity to hold 405 million gallons of wastewater.

Two additional phases completed in 2005 and 2010 added another 106 million gallons of storage to the existing Deep Tunnel system, increasing the total capacity to 521 million gallons. The Northwest Side Deep Tunnel extends 7.1 miles and the 27th Street Deep Tunnel is 2 miles long.

Despite criticism that the Deep Tunnel has not lived up to its expectation of virtually eliminating sewer overflows, the radical water reclamation solution has reduced sewage and wastewater spills to less than 450 million gallons per year. That’s 19 times less than the sewage that annually spilled into Lake Michigan before construction of the Deep Tunnel.

— Rebecca Konya

Breweries Falter

Founded by German immigrants, Milwaukee’s big three breweries — Miller, Schlitz and Pabst — made the city the "Beer Capital of the World" in their heyday. But today, only Miller is rolling out the barrels as a major Milwaukee brewer.

All three breweries date back to the mid-1800s and, in many ways, defined much of the city’s character. Beer gardens and corner taverns, many owned by the breweries, thrived throughout the city. Local cultural icons, like the Pabst Theater, Pabst Mansion and the Schlitz Circus Parade, were made possible by beer money. During the mid-1960s, the breweries were among the top 10 in the world, employing thousands and putting Milwaukee on the map.

Schlitz called itself "The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous" and at one point during the 1940s it was the leading beer in country, topping rival Anheuser-Busch. In the early 1970s, Schlitz was expanding production and growing its market share. Slight, successive changes in the formula of its flagship brand, however, alienated customers and damaged its reputation. By 1980, Pabst had taken over second place in national beer sales. In June 1981, Schlitz closed its Milwaukee plant and a year later the brand was purchased by Stroh’s Brewery.

In the 1980s, the once-formidable Pabst brand began to decline as well. In 1985, Paul Kalmanovitz of California-based S&P Co. bought the brewery and began to talk about closing the Milwaukee plant and moving production elsewhere. Some say Pabst drinkers switched brands in protest.

By 1996, about 70 percent of the Pabst workforce had been laid off. The Milwaukee plant was closed so abruptly in December 1996 that the remaining 200 workers didn’t have a chance to pack up the place. Pabst beer production was farmed out to Stroh’s.

Today, Pabst is a holding company owned by investor C. Dean Metropoulos, contracting for the brewing of over 24 brands, including its own. Pabst beer is enjoying a resurgence, and the Milwaukee Pabst complex was purchased in 2006 by the late Joseph Zilber’s investment group, Brewery Project LLC. The former brewery is being redeveloped into retail, office and residential space in one of the city’s largest rehabilitation projects.

In 2002, South African Breweries bought Miller Brewing, creating SABMiller Plc. That company, based in London, combined its U.S. operations with Coors Brewing Co. and Miller Brewing in 2007, forming MillerCoors. Although MillerCoors is headquartered in Chicago, the Milwaukee plant brews nearly 10 million barrels of beer every year.

— Nan Bialek

Bambi Grabs Headlines

There was nothing Walt Disney-ish about Milwaukee’s own Bambi, even though she could run like a deer. And run, run she did, tagged with the label of "sweetheart murderess" throughout her short life.

Lawrencia "Bambi" Bembenek, also known as Laurie Bembenek, was convicted of murdering her detective husband’s ex-wife, Christine Schultz, in Milwaukee on May 28, 1981. Among the clues was a wig stuffed into a toilet. The sordid story snared national attention, especially after she escaped from Taycheedah Correctional Institution and was recaptured in Canada with her boyfriend, Dominic Gugliatto.

The entire episode was certainly a headline grabber, especially since Bembenek was a former city cop who had been fired for filing a false report about a friend’s marijuana use. Bembenek also worked briefly at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club, a fact that really stoked up the media’s engines. At the time of her arrest, she was working for Marquette University’s Public Safety Department.

Bembenek’s story inspired books and movies such as "Calendar Girl, Cop, Killer? The Bambi Bembenek Story," a 1992 feature starring Lindsay Frost; and the 1993 "Woman on Trial: The Lawrencia Bembenek Story" with Tatum O’Neal.

Theories abound on who actually killed Schultz. Was it her former husband, Fred Schultz? Another person? Witnesses disagreed and police blunders in the investigation were pointed out at her trial. Regardless, Bembenek was convicted and sentenced, but went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from UW-Parkside and helped found a prisoners’ newspaper during her jail time. After prison, Bembenek wrote a book about her experience, "Woman on Trial."

After her prison escape and recapture, Bembenek reached a court deal in 1992, in which she pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in return for a 20-year sentence. Bembenek received credit for the decade she’d spent in prison and was allowed to serve the remaining 10 years on probation. She continually maintained her innocence and sought to have the sentence overturned, but all her appeals were denied.

In 1996, Bembenek moved to Washington state to be near her parents, who had retired. While living there, she met and married U.S. Forest Service employee Marty Carson, who built an artist studio for her therapy as Bembenek’s health problems began to worsen.

Living in a hospice in Portland, Bembenek died of liver cancer at age 52 on Nov. 20, 2010. Bambi’s running days were finally over.

— Martin Hintz

Brewers Rise Under New Ownership

When Mark Attanasio bought the Brewers in 2005, the team was coming off its 12th consecutive losing season and had the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball. But Attanasio saw a lot of positives.

"I think first and foremost, having this incredible ballpark that the fans subsidized without which we cannot compete economically," says Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger.

"I think Mark would also say he inherited a good corps group of executives. Doug Melvin was here. The ownership group that sold the team obviously picked the right owner and left him with no bad long-term contracts, great ballpark, great farm system and a solid nucleus of executives."

And the new owner trusted those executives.

"Mark has really empowered us as an organization to reach levels of success that we all wanted to get to," Schlesinger says. "He’s empowered us with autonomy with financial resources with support and of almost any area on the business side, Mark has given us every tool we’ve needed to be successful and on the baseball side, giving Doug the flexibility on payroll, has just really demonstrably improved the near term and long term health of this franchise. He’s really been a great model owner."

Attanasio came into baseball with a reputation as a brilliant businessman, running a company that now manages $11 billion in investments.

"I think he didn’t automatically assume that his success and his experience in the investment banking field would necessarily mean he’d be an expert in baseball," Schlesinger says.

"He relied on the people who had experience in the game and took time to be deliberate, thoughtful, strategic and really then made his own imprint on the franchise. Every significant business decision we’ve made has his imprint."

Attanasio has provided consistent annual upgrades to Miller Park, including a $10 million scoreboard last season.

Growing up as an avid Yankees fan, Attanasio lived in the Bronx not far from the home of Yanks first baseman Joe Pepitone. He has competed in fantasy baseball leagues and brings a fan’s perspective to the owner’s box. He is a regular fixture in his seat next to the Brewers dugout.

"He has the same passion for the game that I have," former Brewers owner and current MLB commissioner Bud Selig told the New York Times. "He lives and dies with each pitch."

"It makes for a much more enjoyable workplace if your owner is excited about the team and doesn’t look at it as an investment," Schlesinger says. "But looks at it as being a custodian or the trustee of a jewel enterprise that in some respects is really the state of Wisconsin’s property."

The Brewers, now with an annual payroll around $90 million, have made the playoffs twice in the last four years, drawn 3 million fans three of the last four years and jump-started by Attanasio and his wife Debbie’s $1 million donation in 2010, the Brewers Community Foundation has raised millions to support community causes. Fans at Miller Park and those who’ve never been to the stadium have thanked Attanasio for his efforts improving the team on and off the field.

"My goal has always been to build a long-term winning tradition here," Attanasio told Fox Sports. "I think we’ve gotten off to a great start."

— Mark Concannon

Chapter 220:Two-way Education

By Adrienne Ridgeway

Cruel and unusual punishment for most 5-year-olds is a bus time of 6 a.m., but for me, a 6 a.m. bus time meant an educational opportunity. I began the Chapter 220 program in 1985 as a first grade student at Dunwood Elementary School (now Stormonth), and like most 220 students, my day began with a very long bus ride from the inner city to the suburbs.

It was unclear to me in the early years as to why I traveled each day past several schools to go to Dunwood, but now, as a parent, I understand why my parents made the sacrifice of getting me to my bus extra early and at times faced criticism for me to have the education they felt was necessary to give me the best chance at success in life.

After going through the Fox Point-Bayside school system and then on to Nicolet High School, I graduated extremely prepared for college. I can recall my freshmen year in college saying to my roommate about many required texts, "Oh, I read that in high school." Moreover, in a time of school districts needing to cut spending on extracurricular activities, as an adult, I have gained greater appreciation for the extracurricular activities and athletic programs that were offered in the school district.

My participation in track and field in high school landed me a full scholarship to college. In this economy, graduating from college debt-free afforded me many more opportunities post college.

The experience of Chapter 220 was not without challenges. Feelings of isolation were at times present because regularly in school I was the only minority in many situations, and at times faced stereotypes or misconceptions about why I was a Chapter 220 student. That experience gave me a voice to share information about myself so that I could educate teachers and parents around me. I feel like I helped people to understand that not every child in 220 was poor or from a "dangerous" neighborhood in the city or had uneducated and down-trodden parents. I, like many other Chapter 220 students, had the blessing of being from a strong middle-class neighborhood and educated family, but I had parents who wanted a different educational experience than what they thought my neighborhood school would provide.

The Chapter 220 program didn’t just provide me with an education, but it also educated many of the people around me and helped to improve cultural and racial integration in Milwaukee. So, as a Chapter 220 student, maybe I was not invited to every birthday party or could never walk or ride my bike to school. But all these years later I continue to have a sincere appreciation for the education that I received as part of the Milwaukee Chapter 220 program.

Adrienne Ridgeway is assistant athletics director for academic services at Marquette University. She and her husband have a daughter and live in Brown Deer.

Grand Times Short-lived at Grand Avenue

When the Grand Avenue Mall opened in the summer of 1982, civic leaders held high hopes that it would bring shoppers back to the city and revitalize the entire area. With suburban malls steadily pulling customers away, it seemed logical that packaging downtown retailers into a mall would lure them back.

Tapping into a national trend of the time, the concept was to link Wisconsin Avenue shops and department stores under one soaring roof and capitalize on the historic charm of existing architecture like the Plankinton Arcade.

Although the mall seemed to thrive during the ’80s, with dozens of national and regional retailers filling space, a series of setbacks and new management strategies over the years took its toll. As sales plummeted, retailers like Dress Barn, Bachrach’s, The Limited and many others packed up and left. A Marshall Field’s anchor store closed its doors at Grand Avenue in 1997, followed by a major renovation that converted the space to a Residence Inn by Marriott and offices.

Another renovation in 2004 with a multimillion investment by Northwestern Mutual brought discount chains such as Linens ‘n Things, Old Navy and TJ Maxx to the mall, changing its profile to more of a bargain-basement destination. Another hefty investment by Wispark renovated the Boston Store building and created the Boston Loft Apartments.

Renamed "The Shops at Grand Avenue," the mall continued to struggle as the Great Recession hit, with more and more vacant space in the 68,000-square-foot behemoth.

Last year the mall began a new effort to reinvent its east end with "Creativity Lives Here," an incubator for the creative class, offering low rents for arts groups, local entrepreneurs and start-ups. Although the initiative may be injecting new life into Grand Avenue — Stone Creek Coffee Roasters recently expanded its space, for example — the mall has plenty of challenges ahead. Anchor Boston Store has hinted it may be leaving and a foreclosure suit against Grand Avenue was filed last August.

— Nan Bialek

Lovell Takes Flight

Astronaut James A. Lovell Jr. was born in Cleveland, but grew up in Milwaukee, where he graduated from Solomon Juneau High School and attended the University of Wisconsin before moving on to the Naval Academy. While the entire country was electrified by the United States space program in the 1960s and 1970s, Milwaukee was able to take personal pride when Lovell became a NASA astronaut, flying two Gemini missions orbiting the Earth and two Apollo trips on which he circled the moon. Lovell may be best known for the Apollo 13 mission in 1970. Milwaukeeans and the rest of the world held their breath when a service module oxygen tank in the space craft ruptured 200,000 miles from Earth, leaving the crew short on oxygen and without power. Under Lovell’s command, the crew managed to safely complete the trip home in the Lunar Module. Lovell chronicled the mission in his book "Lost Moon," which later was made into the feature film "Apollo 13." Milwaukee has celebrated Lovell’s achievements and connection to the city by renaming the stretch of North 7th Street in downtown Milwaukee between West State and West Clybourn streets as North James Lovell Street.

— JoAnn Petaschnick

Cryptosporidium Attacks Water Supply, Sickens City

Until March 1993, most Milwaukeeans didn’t think twice about guzzling down a glass of tap water. But that spring, people began to turn up in emergency rooms with violent, flu-like symptoms. Absenteeism in schools and businesses spiked.

Public health officials scrambled to find the source of the problem as more and more residents, especially those with weakened immune systems, began to get sick. The culprit, identified in the West Allis Memorial Hospital laboratory, was the highly infectious cryptosporidium, a waterborne parasite.

Residents served by the Howard Avenue water treatment plant had been complaining that their water was cloudy. Cryptosporidium had slipped through the plant’s filtration system. On April 8, 1993, Mayor John Norquist issued a boil-water order for all consumers served by the Milwaukee Water Works and the Howard Avenue plant was immediately shut down.

An estimated 400,000 residents, or nearly half the metro population, had been infected, and more than 100 people died. It was one of the largest waterborne disease outbreaks in U.S. history.

In response to the Milwaukee cryptosporidium outbreak, tougher federal rules for testing and treating drinking water were put into place. Since 1993, the Milwaukee Water Works has invested $362 million in upgrading its infrastructure to improve water quality. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires ongoing testing for 90 water contaminants, Milwaukee Water Works now tests for more than 500.

— Nan Bialek

Milwaukee’s Hometown Airline Hits the Skies

"The best care in the air." That was the longtime slogan of Midwest Airlines, the Milwaukee-based airline once favored by business travelers for its roomy leather seats and in-flight baked chocolate chip cookies.

Midwest grew out of the travel department of Kimberly-Clark Corp., and began flying as Midwest Express Airlines in 1984, with two DC-9s and 83 employees. A year later, one of the airline’s planes crashed just after taking off from Milwaukee, killing all 31 people on board. While the 1985 crash would have been the end of a lot of upstart airlines, travelers in Wisconsin rallied around the homegrown airline.

Throughout the 1990s, Midwest enjoyed steady growth, becoming a publicly traded company in 1995. In 2002, the airline simplified its name to Midwest Airlines, deciding the word "Express" inaccurately defined the airline as only a regional carrier.

By 2007, Midwest operated more than 340 flights a day with 3,500 employees. That year, it fought off repeated takeover attempts by AirTran. But like many airlines, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks caused serious financial problems, and the fuel price spike over the summer of 2008 hurt the airline’s finances even more.

In 2009, Republic Airway Holdings Inc. bought Midwest for $31 million, along with Denver-based Frontier Airlines, which had filed for bankruptcy protection. Although Republic initially intended to keep both brands, it soon became apparent that plan wasn’t cost-effective.

Although the Midwest name was officially retired in April 2010, Republic continues to serve the warm chocolate-chip cookies that made the Milwaukee airline famous on all Frontier flights.

— Rebecca Konya

Bayshore Town Center
5800 N. Bayshore Drive

Year Built: Remodeled and reborn as the Bayshore Town Center in 2006.

Claim to Fame: Bayshore is nothing if not flexible. It began as an outdoor strip mall, morphed into an enclosed mall and now is a shopping mall/mixed use retail complex.

Significance: Bayshore Town Center is Milwaukee’s best example of the way the shopping experience has evolved in America and reflects a popular trend toward a blend of indoor and outdoor space. "It’s kind of a return to this hybrid of neighborhood commerce," Gurda says.

More than just a mall, it features residential units and has become a one-shop for shopping, dining and entertainment. "From the standpoint of urban design, it’s very successful," Thomson says. "The hardest thing to do is get people to go somewhere, and Bayshore has enough amenities that people go there as a destination. I can’t remember a time when I’ve been there and it was empty. There’s always something going on." 

— Bob Gosman

U.S. Bank Center
777 E. Wisconsin Ave.

Year Built: 1973

Claim to Fame: Milwaukee’s tallest building; its 42 floors stretch 601 feet above the ground.

Significance: The name has changed numerous times over the years, but what has not changed is its signature characteristic — its height. It is Milwaukee’s tallest building — by far — and anchors the downtown skyline. "It was the first of the Chicago-scale skyscrapers and so far the only one," says Gurda, who noted that the observation tour used to be open to the public seven days a week.

When people approach the city from the south, the U.S. Bank Center is the first thing their eyes focus on. From time to time, the bank’s windows are lit up to reflect exciting developments going on in the city. For instance, during Harley-Davidson’s 100th anniversary celebration, the letters "HD" were displayed. The outside of the 41st floor was used as a place to reintroduce the Peregrine falcon, during over the last 25 years more than 60 falcons have been hatched there. 

— Bob Gosman

Miller Park
1 Brewers Way

Year Built: 2001

Claim to Fame: Major League Baseball’s fastest convertible roof; it can open and close in less than 10 minutes.

Significance: It was hard to believe this summer as Brewers fans basked in their deepest postseason run in almost three decades, but the debate regarding the construction of Miller Park was fierce and contentious. In fact, the 1/10th-of-a-cent sales tax on purchases in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha counties was toxic for some politicians. So much so that Racine’s George Petak, the state senator who cast the historic, decisive vote to approve funding, was voted out in a recall election.

Miller Park opened in 2001 to largely positive reviews and packed crowds. Attendance dwindled in the middle part of the decade but baseball’s popularity began to surge during the Brewers’ 2008 trip to the MLB playoffs. Last season the Brewers averaged close to 40,000 fans and drew more than 3 million, a franchise record.

— Bob Gosman

'82 Brewers in the World Series

"Milwaukee, you have a World Series!" With his historic call of the final out of game five of the 1982 American League Championship Series, Bob Uecker simply and unforgettably captured the euphoria of Milwaukee baseball fans.

The ’82 Crew offered a little bit of everything to its loyal supporters. There was the golden-boy-future-hall-of-fame 1-2 combo of Paul Molitor and Robin Yount at the top of the lineup. The hardscrabble, blue collar rough and tumble Pete Vuckovich and Gorman Thomas. The cerebral Ted Simmons behind the plate. The elegant professionalism of Don Sutton, Cecil Cooper and Ben Ogilvie. Homegrown products Jim Gantner and Jerry Augustine. The redoubtable Rollie Fingers and his world-renowned mustache that became synonymous with late-inning lockdowns out of the bullpen.

The 1982 Brewers had character and characters.

"There was a real closeness in the clubhouse," Augustine says.

"We had a lot of fun but we played hard between the lines," Gantner says. "That’s what it takes."

And in Harvey Kuenn, they had a manager who trusted those characters to play a complete game of baseball.

"We had guys who could hit the ball out of the ballpark," says infielder Don Money. "But there are also times when you had to bunt and get a man over, and the ’82 team could do that."

"It was a matter of playing the game the way it was meant to be played," Gantner says. "That’s what we did."

It truly was a summer of love between a baseball team and a legion of fans that spanned the generations; many who had cheered for the 1958 Braves when the World Series last visited Milwaukee and the new breed experiencing a fall classic for the first time.

"The fans were great," Money says. "Back in those days, we used to tailgate in the parking lot with them. On a Sunday morning, they’d be there at 10 a.m., we’d stop and say hello. Then after the game they’re still there and you’d stop and have a beer with them."

The Brewers won the A.L. East by finishing one game ahead of Baltimore. They won the A.L. Championship Series by one game over California, but the seventh and deciding game of the World Series went to St. Louis.

That hardly mattered to the throng that assembled for a 15-block victory parade through downtown followed by a celebration at County Stadium in honor of the Crew’s post-season run. Yount provided the signature moment by driving his motorcycle around the ballpark, dressed in a leather jacket, his left arm extended triumphantly upward, riding off into Milwaukee and baseball history.

— Mark Concannon

City Hall
200 E. Wells St.

Year Built: Originally finished in 1885; restoration complete in 2008

Claim to Fame: City Hall’s Bell Tower, 353 feet above the ground, made it the second tallest structure in the United States at the time it was built. The only larger structure was the iconic Washington Monument.

Significance: City Hall’s extensive renovation began in 2006 and finished in 2008. The building’s design and architecture pays tribute to Milwaukee’s proud German heritage. "Talk about an icon," says John

Gurda, an author and historian who wrote the definitive book on the city’s history: "The Making of Milwaukee." "The fact that the city was willing to put more than $70 million into it speaks volumes about its importance to the city."

When people think of Milwaukee, for many, this is their first image.

"It’s so important to keep a sense of where we have been as a

community," says Gregory Thomson, an assistant architecture professor at UW-Milwaukee. "It’s an amazing building." City Hall was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2005.

— Bob Gosman

Gaga for Gokey

I blame Danny Gokey (a Season 8 finalist) for hooking me — line and sinker — to "American Idol."

His story never sounded like a broken record. It was raw and real, about his 27-year-old wife and high-school sweetheart, saddled with a chronic heart condition, who died a month before his audition (and is the subject of Sophia’s Heart Foundation, which aids disadvantaged children). That story, paired with solid vocals and snazzy eyeglass frames (which won him spokesperson gigs for two companies, one of those Wisconsin Vision), lured me to plop down on the couch two nights a week and give in to the FOX reality-television show that the entire country was talking about.

Yet it wasn’t until a few weeks in that I realized Gokey, 31, and I shared something in common: We both live in Milwaukee. He’s the former worship director at Faith Builders International Ministries on South Howell Avenue. In fact, I’m pretty sure I spotted him walking his dog one evening just before dusk in Humboldt Park in Bay View. While I’ll never know for sure, I like to think that the potential for stardom exists in my backyard — and not just the celebrity-studded culture in Los Angeles, or even the romantic twangs of Nashville.

What Gokey — who produced the "My Best Days" album (RCA Nashville/19 Recordings) in 2010 — also did was introduce pockets of the United States, those tuning in from ranches nestled on vast Western prairies to Manhattan apartments the size of a shoebox, to Milwaukee. Yes, this is a city where stars are born.

In late January, Gokey tied the knot with Leyicet Peralta, a model, in Florida. He spends more time in Nashville, but let’s be real: Milwaukee will always be there for him.

— Kristine Hansen

The Dining Evolution

There are a few key ingredients a city needs to earn the title "world class" — and entertainment and dining options top that list. With its exceptional talent and broad range of local choices, it’s safe to say Milwaukee has arrived on the Midwest’s culinary map. The city was fortunate to attract chefs like Dominic Zumpano, Jarvis Williams, Justin Carlisle, Justin Aprahamian, Adam Siegel, Sandy D’Amato and more to set this movement in motion.

Over the past 15 years or so, Milwaukee has also benefitted tremendously from creative entrepreneurs who have cultivated an industry of knowledgeable chefs, bartenders and servers that add to the dining experience. Milwaukee’s ethnic options are abundant as well, straying from the beer and brats image.

The term "foodie" also emerged, referring to aficionados of high-quality food. All of a sudden, people really cared about where their food came from. Restaurateurs began putting a larger emphasis on skillful preparation and using locally produced or available meat, dairy, produce and more.

But who are really the people behind this movement? Who are the risk-takers? Brothers Joe and Paul Bartolotta opened Ristorante Bartolotta in March 1993, and haven’t stopped since. Lake Park Bistro followed soon after, set in Lake Park overlooking a grand stairway winding down to the lake. The family of restaurants now includes Mr. B’s Steakhouse, Baachus and Harbor House (claiming the other best plot of land in the city, at Harbor Drive, adjacent to the Milwaukee Art Museum). It’s seemingly all come full circle for the brothers, with their latest addition to the family, The Rumpus Room Gastropub, named after their father’s first place.  

The early ’90s was also a good time for Scott Johnson and Leslie Montemurro. Catering to a hip, younger crowd, they opened Riverwest’s Fuel Café and later formed the Diablos restaurant group with Mike Eitel and Eric Wager. They parted ways in 2007, and Wagner and Eitel went on to form the Lowlands Group. They now run a string of restaurants that celebrate the grand café culture of Europe: Café Hollander, Café Centraal, Nomad World Pub and Trocadero.

Johnson and Montemurro continue today under the moniker MOJOFUCO and still operate Fuel, Hi Hat/Garage, Balzac and Palomino. They also have additional partners in BelAir Cantina, Comet Cafe and Honeypie. Each restaurant is in a different corner of the city with its own unique charm. The common thread is casual "from scratch" cooking starting with high-quality and locally sourced ingredients.

The SURG restaurant group has reinvented the Milwaukee Street dining scene from the casual to extremely high end. Partners Mike Polaski and Omar Shaikh own Charro (Central and South American cuisine), Carnevor steak house, Ryan Braun’s Grafitto (Italian), Umami Moto (French-Asian fusion) and others.

"I honestly believe Milwaukee can compete with almost any other city in the country with our dining options" says Shaikh.

"Success in this biz is a moving target," Johnson says. "Luckily, there are a plethora of really great restaurants to choose from and for a city of this size, we’re pretty lucky."

— Jenna Kashou

No Winners in Miller Park All Star Game

"There is no crying in baseball," exclaimed Jimmy Dugan, the character played by Tom Hanks who managed the Rockford Peaches in "A League of Their Own."

There aren’t supposed to be any ties in baseball either. But there was one unforgettable stalemate on the diamond in July of 2002 that had fans of the sport that easily possesses the highest percentage of purists crying foul.

The Major League Baseball All Star game, the circuit’s annual midsummer marquee attraction, was in this instance also a national showcase for Milwaukee’s new athletic crown jewel, Miller Park.

Fittingly, a Miller who was also a Wisconsin native, played in the game. Catcher Damian Miller from La Crosse, who would later become a Brewer, represented the Diamondbacks and would turn out to be a key player in this memorable contest.

"For me, growing up as a Brewers fan to play in an All Star game in Wisconsin with my family and friends in the stands was special," Miller says.

The score after 11 innings was 7-7. Both managers — Bob Brenly and Joe Torre — had used all 30 of their players and their last eligible pitchers had each already thrown two innings. MLB commissioner Bud Selig ruled that the game would end in a tie.

"The decision was made because there were no players left, no pitchers left," Selig told Sports Illustrated. "This is not the ending I had hoped for. I was in a no-win situation."

The contest started promisingly enough for the hometown National League fans. The N.L. jumped to an early 4-0 lead and still led 5-2 after five innings when Miller drove in a run with an RBI double in the bottom of the 5th. Miller, who had two hits, was a strong MVP candidate; a Wisconsin lad taking the award in his own backyard would have provided a storybook ending had the N.L. prevailed.

But the A.L. scored the next 5 runs to go ahead 7-5. The N.L. answered with two in the 7th to pull even and four innings later, no one prevailed.

There were boos throughout the stadium and a few fans in right field threw bottles to protest the decision.

"They made the right decision. It’s only a friendly game," said Milwaukee shortstop Jose Hernandez, who along with Richie Sexson represented the Brewers on the N.L. squad.

"It was a tough decision," Miller says. "We wanted to win the game but we understood that you need to protect players for down the stretch. But if they had made a different decision, some people would have complained about that too.

"I can understand why some fans were upset but they did get to watch two extra innings of some of the greatest players of all time," he adds.

The evening began with a celebration of Milwaukee baseball history as Warren Spahn, Hank Aaron, Paul Molitor and Robin Yount threw out ceremonial first pitches. And the anguished cries of much of the baseball nation notwithstanding, the evening ended with Milwaukee securing its place in baseball history. While the particulars of the victors and vanquished of most All Star games quickly fade from memory, few fans will ever forget "the tie of ’02."

— Mark Concannon

Indian Gaming Pays Big

In the 1980s, hundreds of Indian tribes across the United States turned to gambling as a business enterprise. When individual states began trying to impose regulations on reservation-based gaming, tribes turned to the federal government for help. The result was the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which essentially gave tribes the right to regulate gaming on Indian land, and provided a framework for gaming operations to promote tribal economic development and self-sufficiency, and to ensure that Indian tribes receive gaming revenues.

In 1991, three years after Congress passed IGRA, the Forest County Potawatomi tribe opened Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley — the only off-reservation casino in Wisconsin. Since then, Potawatomi Bingo Casino has become one of Wisconsin’s most popular entertainment destinations, drawing nearly 6 million visitors a year.

The original Potawatomi facility was a 45,800 square foot bingo hall that seated 2,500 players. In 2000, the tribe constructed an entirely new 255,000 square foot facility that included a500-seat theater, four-story parking structure, new bingo hall, restaurants, slot machines and table games.

In October 2001, owners of Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha filed a lawsuit seeking to limit state compacts with Indian tribes to raffles and bingo, citing a 1993 state amendment that prohibits Las Vegas-style gambling. The now-defunct Dairyland Greyhound Park blamed profit losses on the rise of expanded casino gambling conducted by Indian tribes. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against Dairyland Greyhound Park in 2006, stating that the state compacts don’t violate the 1993 amendment.

Just six weeks after that ruling, Potawatomi broke ground on a $240 million expansion project that tripled the Menomonee Valley casino’s size to 780,000 square feet. Completed in 2008, the expanded casino featured more slot machines and gaming tables, a fully renovated bingo hall, new restaurants, a larger parking structure and a vehicle bridge from 16th Street.

In January, Potawatomi announced plans to build a $150 million, four-star hotel. Construction begins this spring, with the hotel expected to open in 2014.

— Rebecca Konya

Milwaukee Takes Hollywood

You ought to be in pictures, Milwaukee. And we have ...

For example, did you know that among his 204 roles, Milwaukeean Robert Emmet O’Connor depicted a cheerful bootlegger in "The Public Enemy" in 1931. That was, of course, long before Michael Mann’s "Public Enemies" was filmed here in 2009, with Johnny Depp as a nastier John Dillinger. Local theatrical heartthrob John Kishline played a prison guard in that movie and became the film’s first casualty. In the 1991 TV-thriller "Dillinger," the Milwaukee Public Library lobby become a bank to be robbed and the Third Ward was transformed into a 1934 Chicago neighborhood, where the feds gunned down that iconic gangster.

The Ward starred again, along with Brady Street and Villa Terrace, in the 2009 "No God, No Master," with noted homegrown thespian Dan Mooney portraying anarchist Luigi Galleani.

And the city has elevated trains? At least it does in the movies. In the 1993 Harrison Ford flick "The Fugitive," cops track a doctor unjustly accused of murdering his wife and hear trains in the background during a phone call. "What cities have an El?" one detective asks. Another responds, "Milwaukee!" Of course, the hero was actually in Chicago, but what do details matter when it comes to Tinseltown? And who can forget the Ford Pinto and those Illinois Nazis soaring off our Bridge to Nowhere in "The Blues Brothers" of 1980.

Milwaukee has had other roles as stand-ins for the Windy City. Hotshot producer Michael Bay flew here in his private Gulfstream to check carnage sites for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." He was so smitten with the sexy Milwaukee Art Museum at the time, he returned to make a Victoria’s Secret commercial. Each time, the parking lot became a Hollywoodian backstage maze of wiring, lights and cameras. The MAM also glowed in an "American Idol" sequence last year, with its preliminary rounds shot at the Bradley Center.

One wonders what Wisconsin Highway Patrol boss Stephen Fitzgerald must have thought to see Chris O’Dowd’s goofy portrayal of one of his officers in the recent "Bridesmaids." In that flick, heroine Annie, played by Kristen Wiig, is supposedly a Milwaukeean who falls for the sweet guy. Just forget his brogue and drinking on duty. Concentrate on the street scenes shot downtown and in Bay View.

Obviously, there is no loyalty to locale in the film world. "The reality is, we use what we have," agrees Dave Fantle, deputy secretary of the Department of Tourism and former head of Film Wisconsin. "We don’t have mountains in this state."

— Martin Hintz

Milwaukee: City of Festivals

In 1968, Milwaukee’s entertainment scene changed forever. Mayor Henry Maier’s dream to revitalize Milwaukee’s downtown and bring the community together came to life. The first-ever Summerfest took place at 35 separate locations around the city, including a six-acre site on the lakefront, Milwaukee County Stadium, Pere Marquette Park and Washington Park. There were concerts, film screenings, an air show and even a Miss Milwaukee pageant. Sure, Milwaukee had concerts, but it had never seen a festival of this kind with such a broad range of entertainment spanning several days.

In 1970, Summerfest shifted to a permanent, centralized location at the lakefront (taking over what was an abandoned 15-acre Nike missile site) and charged $1.50 for admission (kids were 50 cents!) Now known as Henry W. Maier Festival Park, the Summerfest grounds housed only tents, wooden slabs for stages and port-a-potties. Summerfest got its smile that year, too, thanks to local artists Noel Spangler and Richard D. Grant. After all, every great brand needs an icon.

By its 10-year anniversary, the event’s attendance grew to 25,000 and the first ethnic festivals — Festa Italiana and Mexican Fiesta — sprung up at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park. Then, one ethnicity at a time, the "City of Festivals" Milwaukee became. Now there is: German, Polish, Irish, Asian Moon, Indian Summer, Pridefest, Arabic Fest and more, occupying each weekend in the summer.

In 1999, the Guinness Book of World Records officially named Summerfest the "World’s Largest Music Festival." Fast forward to 2012 and Summerfest is celebrating 45 years of live music with an 11-day festival, 11 stages and more than 700 acts on its 75-acre site. Throughout its 42-year run, Summerfest has featured popular and emerging local, national and international acts.

Milwaukee World Festival Inc., the nonprofit organization created to run the festival, is in the middle of a two-phase $35 million renovation project to redesigned several stages, box offices, bathrooms and food/beverage building. Phase two will also add a new covered stage.

These days you can’t say Milwaukee without a reference to beer, Brewers or Summerfest. Henry Maier undoubtedly left a legacy for Milwaukeeans and visitors alike. Now millions of people flock from near and far to experience Summerfest and the many other festivals held throughout the summer that celebrates our city’s diversity and heritage.

— Jenna Kashou

Al’s Run Roars On

Al McGuire quickly became a household name in Milwaukee as the beloved and successful head coach of Marquette University’s men’s basketball team from 1964-1977. In his final year as coach, he led the Warriors (now Golden Eagles) to the NCAA basketball championship.

As a way to give back to the community, McGuire founded Al’s Run in 1985 to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. He enlisted the help of media partner Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to get the word out and participated in the run himself for 15 years. McGuire died in 2001 of leukemia and his race bib number (No. 1) has since been retired.

The five-mile run and 3.5-mile walk still take place every year in mid-September, beginning on the Marquette campus, following the lakefront and ending at the Summerfest grounds. When it began, the idea of a charity race was practically nonexistent. Now, you’d be hard-pressed to find a weekend in summer and fall when there isn’t a charity run/walk at the lakefront or in another part of the city.

Al’s Run continues today under the title Brigg’s & Al’s Run & Walk for Children’s Hospital, to recognize sponsor Briggs & Stratton Corp., who stepped up to sponsor in 2005. The event attracts up to 16,000 people each year. Along with the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure, Brigg’s & Al’s Run is one of the largest events in the Midwest. More impressively, during the past 35 years, the event has raised more the $13 million for Children’s Hospital.

— Jenna Kashou

Pilots Change Course; Bud Brings Brewers to Town

While the rest of Milwaukee frolicked with the arrival of warm weather, County Stadium was a silent witness to Brew City’s signature season for four consecutive summers, sitting empty and motionless (a handful of White Sox "home games" notwithstanding) after the Braves left town in 1965.

Through the tireless efforts of a local car dealer, Allan "Bud" Selig, Milwaukee positioned itself to be awarded a Major League expansion franchise in 1968 only to be passed over as MLB planted its flag in Kansas City, Seattle, San Diego and Montreal.

But when the Seattle Pilots ran into financial trouble in their inaugural season in 1969, Selig and his associates saw another opportunity and made their pitch. The fate of the franchise was still undecided as spring training concluded in March 1970 in Arizona. Would the squad head back to the Pacific Northwest or to Wisconsin? Manager Dave Bristol was reported to have told the pilot of the team plane, "When we get to Salt Lake City, ask me whether to turn right or left."

That plane took a hard right and flew directly into the hearts of an adoring throng of baseball-starved fans, as Selig, who grew up watching the minor league Milwaukee Brewers at old Borchert Field, brought "The Show" back to his hometown.

County Stadium was alive again with the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd, albeit not many victories for the home side in the 1970s. But the club built itself into a contender in the early ’80s, bringing a World Series to Milwaukee in 1982.

These days, Selig is baseball commissioner and the Crew plays at Miller Park, still one of the circuit’s gems asit approaches its 12th season after drawing more than 3 million fans in 2011 when the Brewers won the N.L. Central and made the playoffs for the second time in four years.

The pilot of the team plane has no doubts about where to go when the Brewers break spring camp this year, back to a city where it would be impossible to imagine a summer without tailgating, the sausage race and Bernie Brewer’s triumphant home run slide.

— Mark Concannon

The Winding Route of the Great Circus Parade

Hold yer hosses! The elephants are coming ... and coming ... and coming again! The Great Circus Parade was the most dazzling, fantastic, magical presentation of old-time fun and frivolity ever to grace downtown Milwaukee. The parades were held first in the city from 1963 to 1973, and then moved between Baraboo, Chicago and Milwaukee from 1980 to 2005. In 2009, it made a glorious one-time return to the city, bringing to life again those marvelous pageants of days gone past.

Circus World Museum founder Charles (Chappie) Fox teamed with marketing whiz Ben Barkin and Schlitz Brewery chief Bob Uihlein to pull together the first parades. The museum, a state historical site located in Baraboo and the former winter quarters of the old Ringling Bros. circus, provided wagons, costumes and other memorabilia for this Grand Cavalcade of Wonderment.

A UW-Milwaukee economic impact study in the 1990s showed that visitors from outside the four-county area brought $25 million into the greater Milwaukee area for circus week, according to Bill Fox, longtime parade co-chair. More than 1,000 circus fans and horse lovers worked on setup and tear down. They assisted during the parade and on the train that hauled the historic paraphernalia from the museum on its route to Milwaukee, through the state, into Illinois and back again — to the delight of crowds along the way. All three national networks and PBS televised the parade, and stations across the country picked up on the excitement. The parade was also covered internationally in newspapers and magazines.

Local papers reported that 300,000 to 500,000 viewers lined the curbs for the parade on any given year and additional thousands flocked to the lakefront showgrounds to marvel at the assembled wagons and applaud the many circus acts. Parade wagons appeared in the Macy and Rose Bowl parades after 1985, as well as in films such the recent "Water for Elephants." Entertainment celebrities such as actors Ernest Borgnine and Leslie Nielson also appeared in the parade.

And, yes, organizers never forgot to bring in the clowns.

— Martin Hintz

D-Wade Leads MU to Final Four

In the 2001-2002 season, the Marquette men’s basketball team went 26-7, winning at least 20 games for the first time since 1997. It was no coincidence that Dwyane Wade made his Golden Eagle debut that year.

The following season, with Wade returning along with sophomore guard Travis Diener from Fond du Lac, junior center Scott Merritt from Wauwatosa East, power forward Robert Jackson, a Milwaukee native who transferred from Mississippi State and an incoming freshman sharpshooter, Steve Novak from Brown Deer High School, the Golden Eagles had high expectations.

I don’t know if we said we’re a Final Four team but we knew we could be a pretty good team," Wade says. "We lost some seniors. We had some transfers but we had some talented guys back so we knew we could be pretty good."

Marquette would wind up in the Final Four, their first appearance at college basketball’s most desired destination since 1977.

"We peaked at the right time," Wade says. "We knew what worked for us and we played it to the best of our ability. But that team, man, we worked hard. We weren’t a team you could easily beat. We would make it hard on you because of our coach Tom Crean’s DNA. We were tough minded."

With Wade averaging 21.5 points per game and Jackson, Diener and Merritt also averaging double figures, Marquette ripped through the Conference USA schedule with a 14-2 league record, winning 15 of its last 16 games overall. But in the first round of the conference tournament, the Eagles were stunned by UAB.

"That was my fault," Wade recalls. "I let my team down. I wasn’t a leader in that game. I think I had like 10 turnovers (of MU’s 30). I said I’d be better next time. That shook us a little, but our confidence was there. We had to go back and do a lot of practicing to get us back."

Marquette was seeded third in the NCAA Midwest Regional and won close games over Holy Cross, Missouri (in overtime) and second seed Pitt to reach the regional final against top seed and heavily favored Kentucky.

Wade brought the mighty Wildcats to their knees scoring 29 points with 11 rebounds, 11 assists and four blocked shots in an astonishing 83-69 victory earning a ticket to New Orleans for the Final Four.

"It was one of my best individual performances, but I didn’t know it. I was just playing, trying to do whatever I could to help my team win. Because I knew what was on the cusp for us. I knew we were close and we could win. As a team, we were amazing. I didn’t find out I had a triple double until after the game. I was like, ‘what?’ Because I was just in that mode of doing whatever it takes to win the game."

The Golden Eagles lost to Kansas in the national semifinals but had made their mark in Milwaukee sports history. "It was amazing," Wade says. "For coming into Marquette two years before that and basketball not being on the tip of everybody’s tongue. And two years later to have the whole city behind us. It was special."

— Mark Concannon

Condo boom energizes downtown

In the late 1990s, when the trend in urban living began to pick up, developers tested the waters with downtown apartments. Soon people began moving downtown, followed by restaurants and retail shops — and downtown residential construction quickly shifted to a steady stream of condo projects.

From 1996 to 2006, condo developments sprang up along the Beerline on the north side, to Library Hill on the west end, to the Third and Fifth wards on the south side, ranging in price from $150,000 to $4 million. The downtown skyline quickly filled with luxury condominiums like the University Club Tower, a $60 million, 52-unit project on Prospect Avenue, the 74-unit Kilbourn Tower at the intersection of Prospect and Kilbourn, and The Flatiron, a $10 million geometric-looking development with 38 units that holds the distinction of being the first condo project in the Park East Corridor.

In the early years of the Milwaukee condo boom, demand was so high, projects often sold out before developers could break ground. But over-eagerness to meet that demand ultimately led to an oversupply of condos that for a time languished on the downtown market.

By 2006, nearly 3,000 condominiums had been built in downtown Milwaukee, adding more than $1.4 billion in tax base and generating more than $34 million in annual property taxes, according to data from the Department of City Development.

But the collapse of the national housing market in late 2006, followed by the recession and the financial industry crisis, led to the swift demise of the Milwaukee condo market. Condo sales throughout southeast Wisconsin slowed dramatically, dropping from 3,780 units in 2006 to 1,569 through September 2010, according to the Metro MLS Inc.

The economic downturn has resulted in the elimination of several proposed projects like the Palomar, a boutique hotel and luxury condominium development originally planned for the Park East Corridor. Other residential projects have been retooled, like The Moderne, a 30-story high rise at the southwest corner of Old World Third Street and Juneau Avenue, which shifted its focus from luxury condos to upscale rental units.

— Rebecca Konya

Harley Davidson, Reborn

The legendary Harley-Davidson motorcycle company began in Milwaukee in 1903. Through the Great Depression in the 1930s, stiff competition from Japanese motorcycle manufacturers in the 1970s, and declining market share, Harley emerged stronger, still producing its original product and creating a big impact on Milwaukee’s culture and economy. The company’s pivotal point came in 1981, when 13 Harley-Davidson senior executives signed a letter of intent to purchase Harley-Davidson Motor Co. from American Machine and Foundry Com., a longtime producer of leisure products. By mid-June, the buyback was official, and the phrase "The Eagle Soars Alone" becomes a rallying cry. While Harley has established manufacturing plants outside of Wisconsin, it still employs hundreds of people here. And, beginning with its 90th anniversary in 1993 through the 105th in 2008, and the opening of the Harley-Davidson Museum in the Menomonee Valley, Harley enthusiasts have come in the hundreds of thousands to Milwaukee to celebrate the iconic motorcycle and the company that makes it. m

— JoAnn Petaschnick

The TV Takeover

Inevitably it happens while I’m traveling in another state, sometimes even another country.

As an Illinois transplant, I have no family members in Wisconsin. Yet, new acquaintances will ask if I know "The Fonz?" How about Laverne? Shirley?

No, no and no. I nod my head, shamefully. What kind of Wisconsinite am I, really? I have never seen an episode of "Happy Days" (1974-1984, and the No. 1 show in 1976), nor have I tuned in to "Laverne & Shirley" (1976-1983). However, my passing knowledge is enough to determine that the picture they painted of Milwaukee is that of a working-class city, where people are humble, real and funny. It’s no Hollywood or New York. This is the real deal, where people work in factories or breweries, and shovel the front walk some mornings. Apparently American viewers loved every minute.

One afternoon last summer I hurried along the Riverwalk en route to The Pabst Theater to purchase tickets for an upcoming concert. A bronze mass glittered in front of me, the late-afternoon sun bouncing off of the metal. I pulled my sunglasses down onto my nose to investigate. It was the life-sized Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli statue, giving me his trademark two-thumbs up. Now that’s nostalgia.

— Kristine Hansen


This story ran in the March 2012 issue of: