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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Michelle Maternowski

Anyone who grew up in Milwaukee or who lived here before 2005 may remember a pungent yeast smell in the Menomonee Valley, around I-94. 

Listener Dan Dickover of Bay View was one of those people. He moved to the city in 1997, and asked Bubbler Talk: "For the last few years I haven’t really smelled that smell anymore, so I was wondering why that is.” 

Michelle Maternowski

This week’s Bubbler Talk question comes from Jeanne Pehoski, who wanted to know: When is the Grand Avenue going to be a go-to destination again and get some viable anchor stores and better offerings in the food court?

I met Jeanne at the mall in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, where she shops a couple times a month. She says she visits TJ Maxx and Walgreens - a couple of the stores that have survived for years.

Rachel Morello

To kick off the new season of Bubbler Talk, we’re going to revisit a question we pursued last year, from listener Patricia Mousseau.

She asked: Why can’t the clock tower at the corner of North Avenue and Prospect Avenue keep good time?

Patricia was right: the clock’s three different faces each showed a different time – and only one was accurate.

But we didn’t know why, and we weren’t able to track down the owner of the clock tower building in time to find an answer

Joy Powers

If you’ve ever walked around the city, you might have noticed the distinctive tiles adorning some of the older homes in town. They’re small, white ceramic with a black font, and they’re fairly standard.

Listener Dan Osterud wrote to Bubbler Talk to ask about how these numbers came to be. 

He wondered: Why are all the house numbers in the city of Milwaukee the same, all one style of ceramic tile? Was this type of number required by law?

Michelle Maternowski

At the far eastern end of North Avenue in Milwaukee, you’ll find a structure that looks sort of like a turret in a medieval castle. Joe Peschio, a professor of Russian at UW-Milwaukee, has driven past the historic water tower plenty of times and has been wondering how it worked, since it doesn’t seem like it could hold much water.

“It seems like a very unlikely building for that purpose,” he says.

So, Peschio turned to WUWM’s Bubbler Talk for the answer.

Marti Mikkelson

The sign reads Pompeii Square. Many people have zipped past this tiny strip of green space while exiting 794 on their way to Summerfest or the Milwaukee Art Museum. And, many may have even wondered.. 'What is that?'

Joan Nink did, so she reached out to WUWM's Bubbler Talk to find out the origin of Pompeii Square.

No, this isn't the site of a volcanic eruption. It was actually where the first Italian church in the City of Milwaukee once stood.

Maayan Silver

Nestled between Miller Brewery and Harley Davidson on the west and Marquette University on the east, Milwaukee's near west side neighborhood is dotted with mansions and other historic spots from the 1800s and 1900s.

There's the Pabst Mansion, completed in 1892 to house the family of Milwaukee's famed beer barons; the Ambassador Hotel, an art deco retreat built in the 1920s and the Irish Cultural Center, which is housed in what was originally the Grand Avenue Congregational Church built in 1887. 

Rachel Owens

What is the oldest building in Milwaukee? That's the question Emily Pauly posed to WUWM in this week's Bubbler Talk.

“I work in the Mitchell Building downtown, which is a pretty old building," Pauly says. "I believe it was built in the 1870s – and knowing that Milwaukee is older than that, I figure there must be something older than what I work in."

While this may seem like a straight-forward question to answer, it’s not.

LaToya Dennis

The game bar dice is a staple at bars across Milwaukee as well as the state.

Never heard of bar dice?

No worries, I hadn’t either, that is until a few weeks ago when a listener by the name of Dave Schroeter wrote in to WUWM's Bubbler Talk  — our series that allows you to ask us questions about Milwaukee —with a question: 

Why are the rules for bar dice the same everywhere in Milwaukee, except the south side?

Joy Powers

Chances are if you ask a Milwaukeean about the best things to do in Brew City, a brewery tour will be pretty high on their list. For much of its history, Milwaukee has been known as the "beer capital of the world" and the city has been the birthplace of many heavy hitters in the industry: Pabst, Schlitz, and of course, Miller. 

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Gross. Annoying. Ugly. But, illegal? This week, WUWM's Bubbler Talk answers the question: Is littering by throwing cigarette butts legal in Milwaukee? 

The City of Milwaukee has had an ordinance on the books since 1999. But according to a spokesperson, “To the best of our collective [Department of Public Works] knowledge, we have not issued any citations for cigarette butt littering.”

UWM Libraries American Geographical Society Library

Our Bubbler Talk question for this week comes from Hannah Kaytonah, a student at Mount Mary University: "I’ve always wanted to know where the word Milwaukee comes from."

To find the answer to that question, we have to go back in time hundreds of years to a Milwaukee with no tall buildings or criss-crossing streets congested with traffic.

Mitch Teich

This week's Bubbler Talk question comes from Jim Thompson, who teaches mechanical drawing at MATC.

"I saw on a map there were two Honey Creeks in Milwaukee. One’s down close to the [Kinnickinnic River], and the other is up by the Menomonee [River] in Wauwatosa. And I was wondering if they’re just one stream or two separate streams."

Before we searched for the answer, we were curious why Jim wanted to know:  "I happened to be putting together a jigsaw puzzle…"

Ann-Elise Henzl Reporter Milwaukee Public Radio

A weekend brunch staple: the Bloody Mary. The vodka and tomato juice drink has become known for its garnishes, which tower over other cocktails. Garnishes in Milwaukee may include asparagus spears, jumbo shrimp, even a piece of brisket or a miniature hamburger.

WISCONSIN LGBT HISTORY PROJECT

What have you always wanted to know about Milwaukee and the region?

For this week's Bubbler Talk, WUWM tackles this question submitted by Hannah Kaytonah:  Is Walker’s Point really a ‘gay’ neighborhood?

Marge Pitrof

With the start of the new school year, WUWM's Bubbler Talk probes a school-related question. Asker Mike Osowski wants to know the story behind Bay View High School's many stone faces.

More than 160 of them adorn the building, with most along its upper edge, but others around the doorways. 

There may be even more concrete faces, those were just the ones we were able to count. Others may be hidden, due to the addition MPS tacked onto the school in the mid-1970s.

Is There a Waterfall in Menomonee Falls?

Jul 22, 2016
Nancy Greifenhagen / Menomonee Falls Historical Society

This week's Bubbler Talk question is a simple one. Danica Herritz asked: Is or was there a falls (some sort of waterfall) in Menomonee Falls?

Lake Effect turned to Nancy Greifenhagen, board member of the Menomonee Falls Historical Society, for the answer.

Greifenhagen says there are actually two waterfalls in the Waukesha County village.

Marti Mikkelson

This week’s Bubbler Talk inquiry comes from Beth Gehred. She wanted to know how Milwaukee's public tavern is doing.

The tavern Gehred is referring to is the Riverwest Public House Cooperative, located on E. Locust Street in the Riverwest neighborhood. 

On the day WUWM's Marti Mikkelson and Gehred met at the packed bar, a couple of young men were playing dice, while several dozen other people were socializing with friends.

Mitch Teich

It's a question that many of us have probably thought of while we're out for a walk on a beautiful summer evening in Milwaukee.  You bend down to tie your shoe, and there, next to your foot, is a date, stamped into the sidewalk like in the picture above.

Courtesy of Tom Fehring

Whether you've just moved to a new city or have been a life-long resident, sometimes street names can catch your attention.

This week's Bubbler Talk question came from Whitefish Bay resident Ellen Parmelee who asked WUWM: "When I moved to Whitefish Bay two years ago onto Henry Clay Street, I wondered why a street there would be named for Henry Clay?”

Susan Bence

This week's Bubbler Talk question comes from Spencer Hoyt, who asked WUWM: Why is the 425 million year old Schoonmaker Reef so important to metro Milwaukee?

The coral reef existed when North America was covered with water hundreds of millions of years ago, and then it fossilized.

Maayan Silver

Trying a city's signature foods is a must for visitors and locals alike. In New Orleans, you'd probably be on the search for a beignet; in Philly, a cheese steak; in Texas, barbecue. So, what's Milwaukee's?

Tom Targos of Salem, Wisc., took that question to WUWM's Bubbler Talk and asked: "Chicago has deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs ... but what are some of the foods or dishes with a genesis in Milwaukee?"

Milwaukee Housing Authority

This week’s Bubbler Talk is all about buildings--round ones.

Wendy Necklet asked WUWM: What's the deal with all the round buildings? 

Well, for this story what better place to start than one of the city’s most iconic hotels, the Pfister.

Peter Mortensen is the concierge and the unofficial hotel historian. He’s worked here for about 30 years and believe me when I say he’s a really, really smart guy. “I’ve never run across an obscure fact I didn’t like,” he says.

Michelle Maternowski

The ready access Milwaukee has to fresh water - lots and lots of fresh water - seems like an obvious reason that so many breweries chose to open up shop here. Of course, the thousands of German immigrants didn't hurt, either.

Marge Pitrof

Steve Liszewski first noticed South Milwaukee's unique house numbering and street naming system when he was young and his parents taught him how to travel the county by bus.

He understood Greater Milwaukee’s address numbering system and became familiar with its street names – until he crossed the border into South Milwaukee. Then everything was different. So, he turned to WUWM and asked why.

Before we answer, let's explore what makes South Milwaukee's addresses different from most others in Milwaukee County.

Ian Sane / Flickr

Katie Gnau recently moved to Shorewood from Chicago. And when her daughter came home from school one day, Katie noticed she had picked up a new word for a familiar item. So, she asked WUWM's Bubbler Talk:  Why does everyone around here call that a Bubbler, anyway?

WUWM has launched a new series and is inviting YOU to participate. We want to know what's got you scratching your head about the Milwaukee area.

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