There are many books and articles out there that tell you the best places you should visit in Milwaukee. So it was with a bit of trepidation that Lake Effect agreed to look at one more. While 111 Places in Milwaukee That You Must Not Miss offers up some of the expected — think The Pfister Hotel or The Harley Museum — it also offers up some lesser known places, like the Morris Pratt Institute, Al Capone's rural hideout or visiting Grebe's Bakery for some crullers.
111 Places author Michelle Madden was born and raised in Milwaukee and photographer Janet McMillan lives and works here. Together they put together Milwaukee's installment in the 111 Places series for locals and tourists alike - highlighting experiences, places, and history.
"This book is not a straight-up guidebook," says Madden. "It is telling stories of Milwaukee, it’s weaving together all different experiences that have become part of Milwaukee’s character."
Both Madden and McMillan joined Lake Effect's Bonnie North to share a few off their favorite sites ahead of the book launch Wednesday evening at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery:
In the Milwaukee Public Museum's Streets of Old Milwaukee, one of the first walk-through dioramas in the world is an homage to Katherine B. "Kittie" Williams - "Milwaukee's most notable madam," according to Madden.
"When you go up the stairs to the photography studio, if you look across the street, you can see ... the silhouette of a young woman flipping her ponytail," she notes.
The Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear is another history museum which displays the late Avrum Chudnow's collection of Americana artifacts.
"Where Streets of Old Milwaukee gives you a great atmospheric view of what it would've been like to live at that time, in the Chudnow you get to go right in," Madden says.
"[The museum] does a lot of tours for seniors [who] chime in with their own stories, adding a wonderful component to the history lesson."
The QWERTY Creation Site is not a building, but a historical marker on the southwest corner of State Street & Vel R. Phillips Avenue. It commemorates the QWERTY keyboard developed by Christopher Latham Sholes and his colleagues in 1869.
QWERTY stands for the arrangement of the letters - just look at the top row of your own keyboard!
"It's mind-blowing to think that every time you send a text, a fellow from Milwaukee influenced the way your fingers are moving," notes Madden.
Madden says this guidebook allowed her to learn more about places that had almost become folkloric in her childhood imagination. She recalls marveling at being able to see "the nether regions" of what used to primarily be known as the Eagle's Club, which featured an athletic center.
"My dad was a marathon runner and would train by running around the balcony. So my sister and I would come along ... and explore the building," says Madden. "There was the old hair salon ... and the pool, and the bowling alley — those were all things in my imagination that I almost wondered if they were real."
The Soldiers Home in Milwaukee was a recuperative village designed to rehabilitate and reintegrate Civil War Veterans, and was one of the final acts President Abraham Lincoln signed.
"For me, walking around [there] was just fascinating — the history, the beauty of the buildings, the nature that's there," says McMillan.
READ & LOOK: Photos: Milwaukee Soldiers Home, Circa 2017