Bubbler Talk

What’s got you scratching your head about Milwaukee and the region? Bubbler Talk is a series that puts your curiosity front and center.

How it works: You ask, we investigate and together we unveil the answers.

Ask away: What have you always wanted to know about the Milwaukee area's people, places or culture that you want WUWM to explore?

Participate in the process and submit your question below.

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Alesandra Tejeda

On the corner of Cambridge Avenue and Hampshire Avenue on Milwaukee’s east side, there’s a home that stands out.

It’s not a bungalow or a duplex or a high-rise. It’s a boat. It looks like a 70-foot-long yacht, perched on a grassy lawn, facing the Milwaukee River. If that isn’t enough to catch your eye, there is a lighthouse replica on the front lawn.

If you’ve ever driven down South 27 Street in Franklin, Wis., you know there are a lot of motels there. El Rancho, the Knotty Pine, Sunrise, Modern 41, Embassy, the Oakwood and the list goes on and on. My count: 10 within a 2-mile drive, which takes about three minutes.

Over the years, lots of people have written to Bubbler Talk asking about those motels. The most recent question came from a guy named Don Gloo:

Courtesy of Milwaukee Pubilc Library

Like many cities, Milwaukee once was home to a number of "movie palaces" — places where the surroundings were nearly as much of a draw as what was playing on the screen.

These were single-screen, sometimes luxurious venues built in the early days of cinema well before the proliferation of TVs and suburban multiplexes. They had special features like air conditioning and newsreels.

Bubbler Talk received a question asking what happened to one of those theaters: the Grand, previously known as the Warner.

Mitch Teich

Editor's note: This piece was originally published April 6, 2018.

When was the last time you went to the Milwaukee County Zoo? Did you see the polar bear? You didn't feed it anything, right? Well, Bubbler Talk question-asker Jessica Ols has been wondering about her trips to the zoo in the early 1980s:

Angelina Mosher Salazar

Bay View resident Stacy Dent often drives over the Hoan Bridge, looks down at the Lake Express ferry, and wonders... who rides that?

"I’m very curious who these people are," she says. "Are they going for the day? Or are they moving? Or do they work across the lake?"

So, Stacy reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region.

Chuck Cooper Foundation

When you think of the NBA in Milwaukee - of course, the Milwaukee Bucks come to mind. We’ve got Giannis, a fiesty team, and a new arena. But what was pro basketball like here before the Bucks?

Aisha Turner

 Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Nov. 3, 2017.

Imagine you're driving into downtown Milwaukee over the Hoan Bridge. Lake Michigan glistens to the east, the city's skyline rises before you, and then WHAM! A smell infiltrates your car and overwhelms your senses.

If you've experienced it, you know what we are referring to. If you haven't, some people describe the smell like this:

Audrey Nowakowski

Editor's note: This post was originally published Feb. 17, 2017.

For this week’s Bubbler Talk, we visit the Pryor Avenue Iron Well in Bay View. Listener Lisa asked: What can you tell me about the Bay View Spring on Pryor Avenue? Why and how did it start? It's still running; do people still drink from it?

Teran Powell

Whether you’re driving or walking east on Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee, as you approach the lake bluff, you'll see a bright orange sculpture. It’s hard to miss.

It's made of steel beams that point in every direction, earning it the nickname the "sunburst sculpture."

Chuck Quirmbach

It's fitting that Fox Point resident Trish Mousseau reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region — with a question about bubblers.

No, her question wasn't about why Wisconsinites call bubblers, bubblers. (That's the very first question Bubbler Talk ever answered.)

milwaukee-lion-simba-library-museum
Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Museum

In the file of "truth is stranger than fiction," the Milwaukee downtown library was once home to a lion cub. While it seems fantastical, he lived there back when the library shared a building with the Milwaukee Public Museum.

And Heidi Havens heard about the big cat while working as a librarian elsewhere in the city. So, she wrote to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee’s people, places and culture — asking us to find out what happened to him.

Wisconsin Historical Society

The 1861 Milwaukee Bank Riot was one of those moments that people thought would never be forgotten. Now, there are few remaining articles and references to this flashpoint in city history.

But Hugh Swofford wrote to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region — to change that.

The riot was about much more than that single day of chaos on June 24, 1861. To tell the full story, let's go back a few decades to the presidency of Andrew Jackson.

Wikimedia Commons

The Washington Highlands neighborhood consists of 375 beautiful, large houses arrayed over 133 acres on the eastern edge of Wauwatosa, between 68th and 60th Streets. If you're not familiar with the Highlands, I think we can – with impunity – call it the "high rent district."

There's a common rumor about the neighborhood that Julia Griffith wants to end. She's the program director for Historic Milwaukee, which is planning a program around the area. 

Susan Bence

The practice of designating green space, especially for dogs to romp freely, have become more and more popular. But one dog park in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood has some questioning the safety of the ground where their dogs frolic.

What's under the grass at the Roverwest dog park in Riverwest? Some say it was a poisonous dumping ground. Are our dogs safe there?

Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library

Editor's note: This piece was originally published June 24, 2016. As thousands of delegates, reporters and other visitors prepare to descend on Milwaukee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, many might be intrigued by the city's interesting political history. The piece includes portions of an interview with Anita Zeidler, who has since passed away.

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