American Idol auditions to be held in Milwaukee

June 21, 2010

By Matthew Sliker

Milwaukee will host an audition for FOX reality show American Idol.

News of the brew city’s first time hosting came from the official twitter page of the show’s host, Ryan Seacrest.

Seacrest also said that Nashville, New Orleans, East Rutherford, Austin and San Francisco will host auditions. The show is auditioning contestants for its 10th season.

The auditions will be held July 21 at the Bradley Center.

Milwaukee-native Danny Gokey was the third place finalist in the eight season of the show. He released his debut album on March 2.

Related Links:

Video Clips from Clement Avenue’s Musical Princess & the Pea

June 17, 2010

Local leaders respond to DOT’s plan to deal with crumbling Hoan Bridge

June 17, 2010

Source: Press Release from Milwaukee County Board of Supervisor’s Public Information Manager

Milwaukee County Supervisor Patricia Jursik and South Shore Mayors are responding to the latest stall tactic from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding the Hoan Bridge.

The DOT has announced that it is seeking a contractor to “install netting underneath a portion of the Hoan Bridge near the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility in Milwaukee County” as well as improve and repair existing netting near the Summerfest grounds. Published reports indicate the DOT is installing the netting to catch falling chunks of concrete.

Supervisor Jursik expressed disappointment in the DOT’s failure to complete engineering studies to re-deck the Hoan, despite a promise from DOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi to do so. “This is not the RFP we want to see from the DOT,” said Supervisor Jursik. “We are asking for an engineering study to include the Hoan Bridge in the next budget cycle. Any RFP should actually fix the Hoan, rather than delay it any further. The Hoan is well past its useful lifespan.”

South Milwaukee Mayor Thomas Zepecki, Cudahy Mayor Tony Day, and St. Francis Mayor Al Richards voiced similar concern. The Hoan Bridge is a critical conduit for commercial and residential traffic, connecting the Port of Milwaukee, General Mitchell International Airport, and the South Shore to the Marquette Interchange and the entire Interstate system.

The Coalition to Save the Hoan, a broad group of Wisconsin residents including community, business, and elected leaders, has held public hearings and advocated for the preservation of the Hoan Bridge. In November 2009, the Coalition submitted over 8,000 signatures to Governor Jim Doyle asking the State to re-deck the Hoan and abandon alternatives.

The DOT’s announcement can be found at

Summerfest announces kid’s activities, promotions

June 16, 2010

Kids of all ages can enjoy family focused entertainment and activities in The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Northwestern Mutual’s Children’s Theater and PlayZone!

The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Northwestern Mutual Children’s Theater and PlayZone features not only jungle gyms and slides, but a children’s theater and interactive activities for the whole family!  This area is open daily, all 11 days of the festival, from 12:00 – 8:00 pm.  Also, be sure to stop by the Target Kid’s Activity Tents any day between Noon and 5:00 pm to engage in these FREE family activities presented by Target:

  • Discovery World June 24 – July 4 Stop by the children’s area where children can make their own polymers to understand how they work!  Or stop by and get excited about the world of chemistry  and check out the Discovery World: Fun With Chemistry show daily at the Children’s Theater.
  • Check out U B the Band and discover what it’s like to be a rock star!  It’s your chance to shine!  This interactive musical show features a full rock-band style set-up with two drum sets, guitar, bass and microphones.  Members of the audience select from a song list.  No experience necessary!  This exhibit runs June 24 – July 2.
  • Artists Working in Education (AWE) will work creatively with children to stimulate curiosity and encourage imagination.  Stop by to create your own masterpiece on June 24, 25 and 26!
  • Engage in activities with the Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI) on June 28.  MCFI is a community-based agency serving children, adults and families with special needs since 1938.  What does your child’s name look like in American Sign Language?  Stop by and create a “make and take” bookmark of your child’s name.

Monday, June 28 is Sentry Foods and Dean’s Milk & Ice Cream Children’s Fest Day with TODAY’S TMJ4.  Spend a fun-filled day with the family enjoying FREE Children’s Fest activities.  All patrons arriving between Noon and 3:00 pm will be admitted FREE, and select food vendors will offer discounts on food & beverage items.  Also, be sure to complete the Map of Fun scavenger hunt to enter for a chance to win Family Ticket Package giveaways.

  • Enjoy a welcome to Summerfest with the Annual Mascot Welcome at the Mid-Gate! The Wacky Wheel will welcome everyone along with the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club’s Famous Racing SausagesTM, Milwaukee Bucks Bango, Dragonfly Stiltwalker and many more! Also, stop by the demonstrations of Charger Robotics and FIRST Robotics teams!
  • The Children’s Health Education Center Family Helmet Program will teach that bike helmets are a necessity, not an accessory.  Children’s Health Education Center and Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin Coalition will be selling bike helmets for $10 from Noon – 3:00 pm on June 28 while supplies last.  Free fitting required with all purchases. Cash only.
  • Pick up a copy of the Map of Fun at Summerfest or bring your copy from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in June 28 subscriptions and newsstands.
    • Obtain a stamp on your map at each of the locations throughout the festival grounds.
    • Present completed maps at the South Redemption Area across from Chipotle and enter for a chance to win one of the Family Ticket Package giveaways.
    • Grebe’s Bakeries will have a special treat for the kids who complete the Map of Fun, while supplies last.
    • Children will receive a prize for participating.
  • Receive special kids’ activities, promotions and coupons from our festival partners in our Family Fun Bags! A limited number of bags will be distributed at each gate, while supplies last.

Families can create art projects like splatter drawings, animal sculptures, mood paintings, bottle cap magnets and much more at the Kohl’s Color Wheels Van!  Kohl’s Color Wheels is a mobile extension of the Kohl’s Art Generation, a youth art education initiative made possible through a $1 million gift from Kohl’s Department Stores to the Milwaukee Art Museum. The Kohl’s Color Wheels Van will be open daily from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

The Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge & Ram Truck SportsZone with Newsradio 620 WTMJ is the ultimate for sports fans! This area offers interactive daily programming including sports demonstrations from the Milwaukee Admirals, the Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Wave and other pro athletes, local university teams, robotics demonstrations and much more!  Plus, watch live broadcasts of “Sports Central” and “Wisconsin Sports Weekend” shows.

The Elizabeth “Bo” Black Family Fountain with B93.3 FM provides an interactive fountain for kids of all ages to splash and play the day away, while adults keep cool too!  Your family’s day at Summerfest would not be complete without a stop at the family fountain.  Listen to B93.3 FM for special Summerfest promotions.

Source: Summerfest

State will receive nearly $51 million to turn around lowest achieving schools

June 16, 2010

Source: Press Release, U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced Wednesday that Wisconsin will receive  $50,708,839 to turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. These funds are part of the $3.5 billion that will be made available to states this spring from money set aside in the 2009 budget and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“When a school continues to perform in the bottom five percent of the state and isn’t showing signs of growth or has graduation rates below 60 percent, something dramatic needs to be done,” Duncan said in a press release. “Turning around our worst performing schools is difficult for everyone but it is critical that we show the courage to do the right thing by kids.”

The $50,708,839 made available to Wisconsin is being distributed by formula to the state and will then be competed out by the state to school districts. In order for a school district to apply for these funds, it must have a state-identified “persistently lowest achieving” or a Tier III school — a school that has failed to meet annual yearly progress for two years and is not identified as a persistently lowest achieving school.

However, Tier III schools can only receive funds once all of the state’s persistently lowest achieving schools have received funds. Wisconsin’s application, which includes its list of persistently lowest achieving schools, as defined by the state, can be found here:

School districts will apply to the state for the funds this spring. When school districts apply, they must indicate that they will implement one of the following four models in their persistently lowest achieving schools:

  • TURNAROUND MODEL: Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.
  • RESTART MODEL: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.
  • SCHOOL CLOSURE: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.
  • TRANSFORMATION MODEL: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.

Once schools receive SIG funds, they will be able to begin to spend them immediately to turn around schools this fall. States may apply to the Education Department for a waiver to allow them to spend funds over a three-year period. An additional $545,633,000 has been provided for SIG in 2010 and will be awarded to states to fund additional schools in the 2011-12 school year. The department has also made a request for an additional $900 million for the program in the 2011 budget.

Federal grand jury indicts 27 members of motorcycle gang with Walker’s Point ties

June 15, 2010

The national president and 26 other members and associates of the American Outlaw Association motorcycle gang have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia. The 12-count indictment — which was returned on June 10, 2010, but unsealed June 15 — charges that the men participated in a criminal enterprise that engaged in a wide range of crimes, including attempted murder, kidnapping, assault, robbery, extortion, witness intimidation, narcotics distribution, illegal gambling and weapons violations.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Rich Marianos, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Washington Field Division, made the announcement after the indictment was unsealed and the defendants were placed in custody.

This comes after WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee reported that on Tuesday morning, ATF agents were seen raiding a Walker’s Point home that neighbors said is a motorcycle gang club house.  »Read more

Summerfest announces this year’s special attractions

June 15, 2010

Event organizers have released their annual list of special attractions and deals at this year’s Summerfest Music Festival, which runs June 24 through July 4 at Henry Maier Festival Park along Milwaukee’s lakefront.

  • Set your eyes on the sky for the Summerfest Big Bang Fireworks Presented by Menards and WISN-TV, broadcast live on WISN 12 Thursday, June 24 at 9:30 pm.  Don’t miss the the high definition broadcast of the fireworks at 10:30 pm! Produced by Bartolotta Fireworks.
  • Visit the Columbia St. Mary’s Cool Down Lounge with NewsTalk 1130 WISN near the south end of the grounds – it’s always the “coolest” spot on the grounds! Get away from the crowd in this air-conditioned lounge.
  • The U.S. Cellular® Connection Stage with Leinenkugel’s and FM 102/1 will once again feature the Emerging Artists Series, highlighting new, emerging talent each evening from 3:00 to 8:00 pm.  Check for information on nightly competitions, Text-2-ScreenTM technology, music downloads and much more.  Vote for your favorite band each day at Summerfest.
  • Visit the Frontier Airlines Landing at Summerfest to find out how Frontier Airlines and Midwest Airlines have joined together to provide the best care in the air.  Help us name our new spokesanimal, a badger honoring Midwest’s Wisconsin roots.  More information on the Official Airline of Summerfest is available at
  • Tee up three balls for $6 at the Hole-In-One Contest sponsored by Wisconsin Lottery!  One lucky winner will take home the Grand Prize, a Funjet Vacations getaway for two to the all-inclusive Iberostar Paraiso Beach in Riviera Maya.  The trip for two will be for four (4) nights and includes airfare and transportation between the Cancun airport and the resort.  Valid travel dates will be from July 5, 2010 through September 1, 2011.  Additional prizes, support and media provided by Frontier Airlines, Sportsradio 1250 WSSP, CBS 58 and Edward E. Gillen Co.  For contest details and rules visit
  • Take a ride on the Sonic SkyGlider, a true family favorite!  Located high above the main walkway, this gentle ride provides its passengers with a scenic view of the Summerfest grounds, Lake Michigan and the entertainment below.  One-way and round-trip fares are available.

Wednesday, June 30 is The World’s Largest Happy Hour from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.  Meet friends after work to listen to great music and receive $1.00 off all alcoholic beverages and any 20oz. soda or water product.

Sports and music are coming together for the 3rd “World’s Largest Draft Party at the World’s Largest Music Festival!” on Thursday, June 24 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.  The Bucks will celebrate the NBA Draft and bring the excitement and entertainment of a Milwaukee Bucks game to the SportsZone.  Milwaukee Bucks entertainers and personalities will be on site to provide analysis and feedback on the latest Bucks news and interact with crowd.  Entertainment by the Bucks’ Energee! Dance Team, Bucks Wild! Drumline, Bango and the Rim Rockers and some other surprise visitors will get everyone excited for a great season to come.

On July 4, Milwaukee World Festival Inc. will feature a “Summerfest Salute,” to honor members of the U.S. military and their families, by programming the grounds with a celebration of patriotic music and military band performances.  All patrons and military members, along with their families are invited to join in the musical salute celebration for free and enjoy performances by traditional and contemporary military bands between Noon and 3:00 pm.  In addition, several marching units and drum teams will perform, and a series of military displays will be present on the property, in the water and even in the air!  Make your Fourth of July weekend extra special by capping it off at Summerfest!

Source: Summerfest

Photos: Crowds gather in Bay View to watch air show

June 13, 2010

Photos by Matthew Sliker

Hundreds of people chose to skip downtown Milwaukee traffic this weekend and instead watched the Milwaukee Air & Water Show from the Bay View area.

Many of the stunts were hard to see from across the harbor, but the Blue Angels seemed to spend a lot of time over Bay View — much to the enjoyment of spectators who gathered along the lakefront.

The events were canceled on Saturday due to poor weather conditions, but the show continued on Sunday.

Click here for a slideshow from Sunday, including two photos of the Blue Angel that had to make an emergency landing at Mitchell International Airport following a bird strike.

Soccer as poetry in motion
Experiencing the World Cup in Bay View

June 11, 2010

A Guest Essay by Alessia Palanti

Born and raised in Florence, Italy, it would be almost abnormal for me not to follow football, or for fellow Italians, calcio—what is commonly called soccer in the United States. Italians know what’s going on with their city’s team, or the winner of Coppa Italia, or their local players.

I moved to Milwaukee in late summer of 2008, and while walking down Kinnickinnic Avenue—still in the sweaty process of moving into my new home—I saw the Highbury Pub and did a double-take. I could not quite believe that a football bar—a soccer bar to some—was literally around the corner. I began to spend quite a bit of time at the pub, tracking Serie A and other European leagues, which usually meant daytime hours, as they were being televised live from Europe.

In Florence, you witness the love for the home team Fiorentina in the smallest and most radical of ways—fleur-de-lis stickers on numerous cars (that flower is the city’s icon), purple flags hanging from balconies (purple is the color of the team’s jerseys), and manifold placards of the team’s ever adored coach Cesare Prandelli lining the main roads of the city’s lampposts. It’s not just that you see purple, it’s that you see nothing else. It is the most monogamous relationship in the country, an absolute monopoly.

In the world’s Catholic capital, church is important, but the Sunday afternoon match surpasses the sacred. Calcio was always a natural presence in my life, a family member at the dinner table. Fiorentina gradually carved its way into my heart and football as a whole has become ritual for me.

In Milwaukee, Highbury became my cultural point of reference. The pub takes its name from the stadium that served as home for Arsenal in England from 1913 to 2006.

First as a patron and now as a bartender, I get to experience a ragtag collection of internationals cheering on their respective teams from all corners of the globe. Spend a few hours, if not a few minutes, at the bar and you will feel like you walked into the United Nations’ lunchroom. You will hear different languages being spoken—Spanish, Polish, Italian, Serbian, German, French, and more. You will hear people exchanging stories from their own cultural backgrounds, and you will most likely be watching two to five matches at once on multiple screens, viewing games from all different national leagues.

Some Highbury patrons come to watch the avid supporters of various clubs—often arriving at six or seven in the morning—cheer on Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, or Arsenal with creative chants. There is a song for every player, every move on the pitch, for players both loved and despised, and even songs about cheating.

Football is beautiful in its simplicity—all you need to play it is a ball, and the rules are few and simple. Counterintuitive to American capitalism, a 90-minute match is 90 minutes and will never stop for commercials. Viewers have to focus on the fluidity of the game. If American sports are the symbolic equivalent of lining up shots at the bar, European football is a delicate fine wine savored for each sip.

Because goals are not easily scored, each goal becomes something incredibly precious. European football requires a precise attention span—genuine scoring opportunities may occur only once or twice a game. American sports, in contrast, negate defense for offensive fireworks—shot clocks determine the pace and poetry, movement and method.

But scoring is only one theme being developed in the football poem. You watch the approach, the style of play, the players—who’s injured, who’s not, who’s red-carded and why (just what did that midfielder say about the referee’s mother?). Process, as opposed to product, is a fundamental distinction—the game is beautiful because it presents an assemblage of moves and tactics that form an incredible mosaic. At the end of a game, 0-0 matters (literally, a team gets one point for a draw), but the final judgment on the match is whether it exhibited the verse and verve that has held the world outside of America captive for 125 years.

As a Highbury employee for the last eight months, I have had not only the privilege to watch “the beautiful game” during work hours, but also the opportunity to observe what football does to people—how it transforms them, unites them, and what it means to them on a personal, intimate level.

With the World Cup tournament that began June 11—and the numbingly important match between England and the United States June 12—Highbury patrons witness a myriad of nations display their personalities through their style of play. We see countries come to a temporary peace—a midday truce—to follow the elegant flight of a long cross into the box.

The World Cup is a month-long odyssey. The eventual victors will cherish each day for the next four years until the 2014 host country, Brazil, opens its arms to 32 nations.

If you are just a wee bit curious, I suggest you pop your head into the pub before July 11, as you will get a sense of the passion and the camaraderie of the world’s most cherished sport—and see with clarity just how football can bridge our differences and heal our wounds.

Do you know it’s now legal to raise bees in the city? What do you think?

June 2, 2010

Interviews & Photos by Michael Timm

Dave Hakes

“I didn’t know that and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be able to. They’re not a nuisance. I think you should raise chickens, too.”

-Dave Hakes, Dover Street

Jaclyn Jankowski

“I did not know…I guess it’s okay. I don’t know, I like bees, as long as I don’t get stung by them, ’cause then I’d die.”

-Jaclyn Jankowski, Fifth Place


“No, I didn’t. But I’m also unaware of any bee problem. I love bees, but they’re all kind of dying anyway, and that sucks. So, there’s probably no place for them in the city, I guess. If I was stuck in the city, I would want to have some bees. Some people are afraid of bees. I read once that pennyroyal, an herb in the mint family, keeps bees away a lot, which might also keep your flowers from re-pollinating.”

-John, (Kinnickinnic Avenue)

Emily Conigliaro

“Hmm, I didn’t know that. I guess it’s okay, if people want to make their own honey, do their own thing, I can understand why you’d want to do that. But I wouldn’t want bees in my backyard.”

-Emily Conigliaro, Linus Street

Jim Luepke

“Wow! No, I don’t. I don’t see any problem with it. Wow, totally uninformed on the subject, sorry!”

-Jim Luepke, Oklahoma Avenue

In March, the Milwaukee Common Council approved an ordinance that allows bees to be raised in the city. Urban beekeepers must obtain an $80 annual permit.

Q10: PT Plus

June 2, 2010

Carol Dusold 2

Carol Dusold operates the Bay View PT Plus in the offices above Café Centraal. ~photo Michael Timm

PT Plus
437 E. Lincoln Ave.
Carol Dusold
(414) 292-3275

1. What kind of injuries are best suited for physical therapy (PT) treatment? What’s the “plus” in your business?

Muscle and soft tissue injuries, joint problems, limitations following surgery, headaches, many neurological problems including post-stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. The “plus” in PT Plus represents the premium care we provide our clients. The “above and beyond,” if you will. We pride ourselves on the personal touch we offer, which includes one-on-one contact with the patient throughout the time they are in the clinic. We cater our treatment to the individual person and what their specific injury and problems require. We do not have a “cookie cutter” approach to their treatment.

2. Can you help someone with scoliosis? How?

Yes. Scoliosis can be treated through therapeutic exercises to increase the strength of muscles that are weak and increase the flexibility of the muscles that are shortened and tight. We can also help to decrease the pain associated with the changes in posture and tightness in the soft tissue.

3. How is what you do different than chiropractic work or neuromuscular massage?

PTs will generally use a variety of treatment techniques to assess and treat the whole person and their functional limitations. We will also prescribe exercises to help maintain the functional improvements gained in the clinic and allow the patient to have an active part in their recovery and healing. Often we will incorporate techniques similar to what a chiropractor would use to mobilize joints and the spine and other approaches that a massage therapist would use to address tightness in the soft tissue. Overall, I believe physical therapy encompasses many techniques and offers a multifaceted approach to healing.

4. How can people who don’t have insurance afford physical therapy?

At PT Plus we will create a payment plan that takes the patient’s financial situation into consideration while providing the quality care they require.

5. What are some of your favorite success stories (how you really helped someone)?

There are several stories that come to mind. I worked with a woman with Parkinson’s disease who was having trouble with her balance and wanted to be able to go on a seniors trip that included hiking and walking in Yellowstone National Park. Following several weeks of treatment, not only was she able to participate without fear of falling or losing her balance, but she was also able to engage in more activities than she thought possible. Then there is the story of a woman who required a hip replacement and had several complications along the way which nearly cost her her life. Through her therapy, self healing, and pure determination she is now teaching Nia (a movement class which combines martial arts and dance) a few times a week and is truly dancing through life.

6. What do you think is most misunderstood by the public about PT?

First of all, people always associate PT with causing pain. Truthfully, PTs really have no desire to cause their patients pain. Secondly, I believe people think that going to PT means being in a gym with lots of other people simply doing exercises, when in reality there is much more hands-on treatment, especially at PT Plus.

7. How long has PT been offered in the United States?

PT has been around since the early 1900s.

8. What is the most rewarding part of your work?

Having people leave my office feeling so much better than when they first walked through my door.

9. What is the most challenging?

Dealing with the health insurance companies.

10. Are you optimistic that more people will be able to receive PT once the federal health reform measures take effect?

That is definitely my hope.

Humboldt Park has charmed and delighted for 120 years

June 2, 2010

By Anna Passante

Humboldt boathouse-pavilion1910

Boathouse/pavilion in 1910

All historic photos are courtesy the Milwaukee Public Library Historic Photo collection. All modern photos were taken by the author.

The Milwaukee Journal described Humboldt Park in 1896 as an extremely pretty park, a “charming urban-suburban resort.” After all these years, this description still fits, and this extremely pretty park will celebrate its 120th anniversary this summer.

Humboldt Park, originally known as South Park, was established in 1890 along with four other parks, present-day Lake, Riverside, Mitchell, and Kosciuszko. Funding these parks was an uphill battle. The 1880s witnessed heated debates, with opponents expressing outrage at the likely increase in taxation. But the supporters of the parks won the debate. On June 16, 1890, the Milwaukee Common Council passed an ordinance enabling the city to purchase land for five city parks.

Humboldt 1893 boathouse

Boathouse in 1893

The city sold $1 million in municipal bonds to fund the purchase of land for the five parks, with a portion of the bonds purchasing 46 acres for South Park/Humboldt Park. Fifteen acres from Henry Mann formed the east side of the park and31 acres from Jane Wilcox formed the west side. Trees covered about 30 of the acres, with open meadowland covering the northwest corner.

The park opened to the public in spring 1891, with the natural setting being retained. Completely fenced, with corner boundaries marked by stone monuments, the street boundaries of the park were Idaho to the north, Howell to the west, Oklahoma to the south, and Logan to the east.

Humboldt pavilion 1932

Pavilion in 1932

Landscaping & Construction

In 1891 an open-air pavilion, measuring 25-by-50 feet, was built. A lagoon/artificial lake was excavated in 1893. The overflow from the lagoon created a small creek, over which rustic bridges were built. Also in 1893, a boathouse was constructed on the south shore of the lagoon, which held the rental boats that were popular in the summer and served as a shelter for ice skaters in the winter. The boathouse featured a polygonal end bay with a conical roof.

The lily pond, featuring exotic lilies, was constructed in 1894 at a time when water gardening was very popular. An 1897 Milwaukee Journal article reported, “The surface of the water is covered with great green pads and the beautiful flowers lay like stars of blue and white and pink all over the surface.”

Humboldt pavilion 1891

Pavilion in 1891

In 1900 the park was renamed Humboldt Park in honor of Baron Friedrich Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), a then-famous German scientist and naturalist.

A new multi-story boathouse/pavilion was built in 1910 to replace the 1893 boathouse. The first level contained a large heated room used by ice skaters in winter.

Bay View resident Ruth Simos grew up near the park in the 1930s and remembers the 1910 pavilion. In the February 1991 issue of the Bay View Historian, Simos recalled the smell of the wooden floors in winter that were laid over the concrete floors “so as not to dull the skate blades.” There was a checkroom for shoes ($.05 charge) and benches for putting on skates, Simos wrote. The upper level had an assembly room and an area for refreshments and the basement had lavatories. The refreshment stand sold hot chocolate for $.05 and hot dogs for $.10, Simos wrote.

When the lagoon was expanded in 1910, a small island was created for picnickers. A concrete footbridge connected the boathouse/pavilion to the island. In summer, boats and canoes were tied to the dock. The boat rental, Simos said in recent interview, was $.10 and canoe rental was $.15 per hour.

Humboldt band shell 1932

Band shell in 1977

Changes & Improvements

Around 1910 a group of concerned citizens established the Humboldt Park Sane Fourth Commission (renamed Humboldt Park Fourth of July Commission in 1926) to promote sensible Fourth of July celebrations at the park. The commission was established because of the many tragic accidents due to the careless use of fireworks, which maimed or burned many revelers.

The commission planned a busy day of safe activities, along with a gigantic display of fireworks to end the day. Arthur Hickman (1905-95) remembered the celebrations. In his book Growing Up in Bay View, Hickman recalled that on July 4, Trowbridge students marched from the school and met up with other neighborhood school students at Russell and Kinnickinnic avenues to form a parade to the park. Upon entering the park each student received a coupon good for one ice cream cone at the refreshment stand.

By 1922 the park needed to expand, so an additional 27.5 acres were purchased bordering Howell Avenue on the west, Idaho on the south, Pine on the east, and Montana on the north.


Present-day band shell

A new pavilion was built in 1932, designed by the architectural firm of Clas & Clas, and was built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. Located just west of the lagoon, it replaced the old 1910 boathouse/pavilion. The 1932 one-story, Lannon stone-clad pavilion resembled a New England farmhouse. The pavilion is still rented to the public for events.

Another 1932 WPA project was a permanent band shell for outdoor concerts. Built in the shape of a seashell, the band shell was located south of Montana and east of Howell. It sat 100 musicians and 200 singers and provided public seating for over 20,000 on a gradual ascending lawn. A fire destroyed the band shell Oct. 6, 1975. Arson was suspected. A new band shell, in the style of a Swiss chalet, was built on the base of the old one and was dedicated July 10, 1977.

Two other buildings are presently located in Humboldt Park. A one-story maintenance building, designed in a style similar to the 1932 pavilion, was completed in 1962. It contains a large assembly hall and restrooms and is used as a park maintenance building. It has an adjoining wading pool and playground. The other structure is the World War One Memorial kiosk, measuring 20 feet tall, 12 feet in diameter, and constructed of Wisconsin red granite. Paid for by donations through the efforts of the Bay View Homecoming and Reconstruction Commission, it was dedicated May 22, 1921. Inside is a bronze plaque with the names of 22 Bay View servicemen who died in the war between 1918 and 1919.

Humboldt Park is now a Milwaukee County park. In 1937 the city and the county consolidated their parks.

All historic photos are courtesy the Milwaukee Public Library Historic Photo collection. All modern photos were taken by the author.

Next Page »