Wisconsin: Milwaukee

As I am still too far behind on the blog and spent a lot of time covering Madison, I am going to write this very quickly…

September 14, 2013 (Saturday, cont’d) – Wisconsin is sparsely populated for a while east of Madison.  Jenni’s close friend Emily grew up in Milwaukee and it is on the way to Chicago so we decided to spend a few hours there seeing her childhood home and getting a wonderful tour from Emily’s gracious mother.  They live in the Story Hill neighborhood right next to Miller Park, and the area reminded me some of where my mom’s parents lived in Queens.

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There is undeniable evidence of urban decay in Milwaukee as the manufacturing base eroded, but overall it was nicer than I expected with some very impressive architecture.  We passed the Miller building, a big Harley plant, and the old Pabst brewery before parking near the county courthouse.  This building would hold its own in Washington D.C. or St. Petersburg.  In front is MacArthur Square and there is a statue of General Douglas.  I learned that his father was also a General and his grandfather was a judge, and all were Milwaukee residents.

Milwaukee county court
Milwaukee county court

We crossed the Milwaukee River which has a river walk and saw the Northern Trust bank building, the Marshall building and some nice churches.  I think Northwestern Mutual is based here, too.  The Milwaukee Art Museum is on Lake Michigan and has an addition designed by Santiago Calatrava.  We parked at McKinley Marina on the lake where there is a kite store, bike and skate rentals etc.  There is a huge park here and I am told a very big summer festival each year.  Between the lake and the road is a smaller body of water where people rented paddle boats and there are weeping willow trees.  Discovery World and Reiman Aquarium are also here.  I think in the summer time they do fish fry and films here.

We continued north along the lake and passed villa terrace and then a beach area with live music and a volleyball tournament.  There are lovely mansions on Lake Drive and the homes were old and beautiful with ample property as we drove through the village of Shorewood and then Whitefish Bay, with its quaint, several block downtown.

Jenni had been schooled by Emily for years in the ways of Kopp’s frozen custard, so we knew a visit was mandatory.  It has an amazing greasy burger smell but we stuck with custard.  It was packed but we only waited about five minutes in the custard line.  I think each day they have vanilla and chocolate and two special flavors, which are listed for today as well as on a two-day flavor forecast.  One of the special flavors was Reese’s but we opted instead for Bienenstichkuchen.  Ah, the old childhood favorite of Bienenstichkuchen, naturally.

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Milwaukee also has a city bike service.  Emily’s mom taught us about Little Free Library which is a great concept that hopefully is rapidly spreading.  Check it out.

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