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'Kodachrome Milwaukee': A time capsule of life in mid-century Milwaukee

Cover of the book "Kodachrome Milwaukee" by Adam Levin. The image is split down the middle with the back cover on the left and the front cover on the right
Courtesy of Adam Levin
"Kodachrome Milwaukee" offers a window into mid-1900s Milwaukee.

For years, family photos from mid-1900s Milwaukee lay sitting in storage, collecting dust. Often destined for the garbage, local historian Adam Levin has compiled about 150 of these images into a newly-released book “Kodachrome Milwaukee.”

Images in the book depict a time capsule of life in mid-century Milwaukee, with images from large events including German Fest and Bucks games, as well as basement parties and pictures of everyday people.

Levin collected these images from donations, estate sales, antique shops and more since 2016. The images came to him on slides, which he then digitized and compiled into the book.

 The photos in "Kodachrome Milwaukee" came to Levin slides like the ones above. (Courtesy of Adam Levin)
Adam Levin
The photos in "Kodachrome Milwaukee" came to Levin slides like the ones above.

“To me it’s an art. It’s a way of seeing downtown in a way that’s completely different from today,” Levin said.

Levin also noted that unlike today, there weren’t people roaming the streets taking pictures all the time. These photos are a rare find in part because capturing an image was not as easy as it is today, and so many simply did not do it.

“Back in the '40s, '50s, '60s [...] people didn’t really roam the streets and take photos,” he said.

“Now, everybody does that.”


Sam is a WUWM production assistant for Lake Effect.
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