c. 1893 book on Milwaukee merchants
1890s Cream City of the Lakes
An apt description for a city built of brick that turned a creamy gold when fired instead of the usual red or brown. When viewed from the Lake Michigan during the sunrise, the still cleaned brick buildings must have radiantly shown!
1900s A Bright Spot Letterhead on Merchant & Commerce Report
A new century brought a change. You can notice a reference to the shining city on the lake. Milwaukee was now billed as a top destination for conventions. With the many breweries, opera houses, vaudeville theaters, parks and more attractions (some illegal) the city drew in various national club, labor, industrial and athletic conventions in the early 20th century.
1920s Making Milwaukee Mighty
The cities industrial and shipping base increased greatly during the first World Wars. The Great Depression of the 1930s was not kind to the global community but Milwaukee suffered less than many cities its size. As the depression and dust bowl continued, more rural citizens and immigrants flocked to the big cities to look for employment.
1920s & 1930s Keep Milwaukee Famous
Used as a slogan by Daniel Hoan who wished to remind voters of how the city improved with him as mayor. It borrows quite a lot from Schlitz's branding as, "The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous". Schlitz itself rebranded during prohibition encouraging buyers to purchase it's barley malt that, "Keeps Milwaukee Famous". Well, a good slogan is a good slogan.
C. 1940 Keep Milwaukee on Top
Investors and workers alike needed to be reminded that the city was still important in the region and the world. Although it might be viewed as a slight improvement over the "Milwaukee Mighty", it isn't that different from the previous "Keep" slogan.
1970s Milwaukee: Talk It Up
Following WWII, city slogans seemed to take second place to the branding of individual companies towards consumers. Interestingly, this is also the decade that brought the shows of "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley" into every household with a television. Although the slogan seems a little confusing, it definitely has a colorful '70s look. See a sample at the bottom link.
c. 1980 Milwaukee: Great For Living, Great For Business
A lengthy slogan trying very hard. The flight to the suburbs was on and the downtown of Milwaukee was often very deserted shortly after five o'clock. The city is still working to try people back to the center to this very day.
1982 Milwaukee Builds Winners
1983 A Great Place By a Great Lake
1995 Milwaukee: Genuine American
Like the period following World War II, city slogans have seemed to again fall out of fashion. Visit Milwaukee currently uses a wordless sketch of the art museum. In a city with over half a million people, multiple interests and many businesses, perhaps it is difficult to find a consensus today.
For more images and reflections of the most recent slogans, read Matthew Prigge's Shepherd Express article: Milwaukee City Slogans: Talk 'em Up
! By Joel WillemsCurator, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
On February 20, 1928, 147 thousand, six hundred Master Padlocks were shipped by rail to New York City. The shipment weighed sixteen tons and was worth $65,000. The humorous and ironical part was that the locks were made in Milwaukee, the national beer capital, and in quarters leased from the Pabst Brewery. Pabst was not brewing beer because of the National Prohibition Act.
The newspapers were full of articles concerning raids by Federal agents on distilling operations and speakeasies. The tools in the trade of the Federal agents consisted of two items; a long handled ax to smash the barrels of illegal brew and a supply of padlocks to secure the doors and prevent any further use of the establishment.
In the majority of cases, the locks used were Master padlocks, the strongest padlocks ever built. Twenty cold-rolled steel plates, seven times riveted and forming a solid, indestructible case. It could be hammered upon and would not break or crack.
It took seven trucks to move the 16 tons of locks from the company to the train yard. On the sides of the trucks were banners that read, "The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous." These banners were crossed out and covered by banners, "Make Milwaukee Mightier." Acting Mayor Cornelius Corcoran of Milwaukee locked the rail car witha 3-foot padlock and broke a bottle of near beer over it. He sent the key to Jimmy Walker, mayor of New York, by air mail.
Images and research by John Lupiezowieck, Master Lock historian
Exhibit of Master Lock on display at the Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear since June 2016 - now
A Young Mildred Fish
Mildred Elizabeth Fish was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on September 16, 1902. She attended West Division High School, and in 1926 worked at what is now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a lecturer on German literature. During this time she met her future husband, a German, Arvid Harnack, who was in the U.S. studying at University of Wisconsin-Madison. They wed in Wisconsin and left for Germany in 1929 where she studied for her doctorate. The couple moved to Berlin from Giessen in 1930 where she worked as an assistant lecturer of English and American literature and also as a translator.
Mildred Fish Harnack, Educator and Resistance 1902-1943 Clara, Mildred & Arvid Harnack c. 1931
It was during this time in Berlin that Mildred became interested in Communism as a solution to poverty. In 1932, she was let go from her teaching position and toured the Soviet Union with her husband and other academics. Arvid and Mildred began a discussion circle that debated the political situation of the time. This circle became the center of a resistance group that by 1941 was feeding Soviet agents information about German intentions in the upcoming invasion of Russia. Mildred and her husband recruited more members who were against the Nazi regime and this group became a hub of resistance inside Germany. Dr. Mildred Fish Harnack Bldg, Urban Milwaukee photo
Unfortunately, this group’s radio messages were intercepted and decoded. The Gestapo arrested Arvid and Mildred on September 7, 1942, and after a quick trial Arvid was executed on Dec. 22, 1942. Mildred Fish Harnack was originally given a six year sentence by the court, but Hitler refused to endorse this and ordered a new trial. Upon Hitler’s direct order, Harnack was found guilty and beheaded on Feb. 16, 1943. Her last words were, “I loved Germany so much.”
“And I have loved Germany so much.” Mildred's Final Words
Luick Dairy Milk Can, Chudnow Museum
John Luick, a Civil War veteran, revolutionized the ice cream industry not just in Milwaukee, but throughout the world. He was born in New York, and except for his two years of service in Virginia, lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Luick “saw the rise of ice cream from a Sunday luxury to an everyday dessert.”[i]
This rise was brought on largely by Luick himself.
In the 1880’s, Luick was already making delectable ice cream in his small confectionary shop in Milwaukee. It was his son William’s idea to sell wholesale ice cream, an idea that his father did not readily buy into. William rented a failing drugstore soda machine on Milwaukee Street between Wisconsin and Wells. William also purchased a small shop and started to make 10 to 20 gallons of ice cream a day. At this time, ice cream had to be hand-turned in a small freezer. A drugstore on 27th and Wisconsin Avenue was William’s first customer.[ii]
Because of his son William’s success in making and selling wholesale ice cream, John was convinced of the business potential.
“The Dairy Industry is the biggest in the world. It is bigger than the steel industry.” Thomas McInnerney 1926 to the Milwaukee Sentinel Luick Dairy Advertising Truck
Recreated Luick Ice Cream logo
In 1897 he formed “Luick’s Ice Cream Co.” The company grew so big in its first 90 days that the business was moved into a larger building at 602 East Ogden Street. Copying his son’s idea, he also installed a soda fountain which turned his building into one of the most popular in the city.[iii]
Another of his brilliant ideas was to serve ice cream in the winter, which helped to spread its popularity.
Luick made a number of important contributions to the Ice Cream Industry. He was the first person to sell pint “bricks” of ice cream wrapped in paper and quarts of ice cream in cartons. He created flavors of ice cream other than the traditional Neapolitan flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Luick mixed his ice cream with fruit and candy to increase his flavor potentials. Luick’s business was so revolutionary that confectioners from across the country came to observe his business. Eventually, John retired and left his business to his son William.
Milk Half Pint with Luick & Sealtest Cap
At the end of 1923, a man named Thomas McInnerney formed the National Dairy Products Corporation with the goal of consolidating all of the independent ice cream companies in the US. McInnerney was highly successful and merged with Luick Ice Cream Co. in 1926. Luick Ice Cream Co. was largely left to create ice cream the way it always did. A newspaper at the time reported, “Mr. Luick [William] will remain president of his company and its organization, methods and product will remain unchanged.”[iv]
William was even appointed to the board of directors of the National Dairy Products Corporation.[v]
Around 1929, Luick Ice Cream became part of the Sealtest division of the National Dairy Products Corporation, which would eventually become Kraft Foods, Inc.[vi]
Sealtest and Kraft were companies that were purchased by the National Dairy Products Corporation to consolidate the food industry. In 1969, the National Dairy Products Corporation changed their name to Kraft, which is one of the biggest food-producing companies today. In 1993, Kraft sold its ice cream brands, including Sealtest (the brand that owned Luick Ice Cream) and Breyer’s to the Unilever Corporation, which owns them today.[vii]
Nevertheless, Luick Ice Cream was a Milwaukee staple for decades, especially in the 1920’s. This decade saw the standard of living rise along with wages. Never before in history did the majority of the population have some sort of disposable income or leisure time. These two things merged together at the soda fountain or ice cream parlor that Luick helped to popularize.
“Luick, Veteran of Civil War, Is Dead at 97” The Milwaukee Journal
, March 30, 1938, Page 1.[ii]
“Everybody Likes Ice Cream” The Milwaukee Sentinel
, January 29, 1952, Section 2.[iii]
“Chain Concern Booms State Milk Future” The Milwaukee Sentinel
, September 3, 1926.[v]
“Trapp Dairy Co. Unites With Chain Organization” The Milwaukee Journal
, December 16, 1927, Page 1.[vi]
“Luick Dairy Co. Horse and Wagon,” Milwaukee Public Library Digital Collections, accessed June 23, 2011, http://content.mpl.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/HstoricPho&CISOPTR=4111&CISOBOX=1&REC=1[vii]
“Breyers,” Unilever USA Brands, accessed June 23, 2011, http://www.unileverusa.com/brands/foodbrands/breyers/index.aspx
Elsa Ulbricht was born on March 15, 1885 in Milwaukee. She studied at the Milwaukee Normal School, receiving a degree in education before attending the Pratt Institute in New York, from which she graduated in 1911. Ms. Ulbricht was asked to join the faculty of the art department of the Normal School upon her return from the east. Elsa was influenced by Wisconsin artists during this time and spent the summers of the 1920s and 1930s painting. Her work in teaching and developing a curriculum at the Normal School led to her appointment as the director for the Works Progress Administration Handicrafts Project for Milwaukee. She had a genius for organizing and a determination to get the job done to create in her words, "socially useful and durable art."
Elsa Ulbricht, Artist and Educator 1885-1980 "Our Club" sketch by Elsa Ulbricht
During eight years of the Great Depression, 1935 to 1943, five thousand Milwaukee County residents were lifted from welfare by working on dolls and toys for poor children; wall hangings, rugs and drapes for hospitals, schools and nurseries; and a myriad of other items including furniture, quilts, pillows, book binding, and costumes for theatrical groups. This WPA project became a model for others around the country, with Eleanor Roosevelt visiting Milwaukee to view its productivity. Elsa also saw to it that African Americans were employed by the project at a time when many were being turned away. She believed that everyone had one thing in common - the need for work.
Elsa taught and developed an amazing variety of subjects in the art department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and its predecessors over the forty-four year period 1911-1955, serving the last two years as head of the department. Elsa was also a founding member of the Wisconsin Players, the Milwaukee Art Institute, and the Wisconsin Designer-Craftsmen. She was an accomplished painter, print-maker, weaver and puppeteer as well as a zealous promoter of crafts as major art forms. Ms. Ulbricht died in Milwaukee on March 13, 1980.
"And still they gazed and still the wonder grew,
how one small head could carry all she knew."
-1914 Normal School Graduating Verse on Elsa Ulbricht
Garden Homes Construction, 1923
The Garden Homes housing project is the nation’s first and only municipally-built, public housing cooperative. The property, composed of 105 living units in 93 free-standing buildings constructed between 1921 and 1923, is bounded by North 27th Street and West Ruby, North Teutonia and West Atkinson avenues. Its origins can be traced to the 1910 municipal election of the nation’s first Socialist mayor, Emil Seidel. One of the planks of the Socialist platform was construction of city-built, low-cost homes for workers. Although Seidel failed to make public housing a reality during his term, Daniel W. Hoan, the city’s second Socialist mayor, succeeded. Garden Homes Construction, 1923
In 1920, the lack of adequate working-class housing was the key issue in the community. The Garden Homes Company was formally incorporated in 1921 under new legislation that allowed the formation of public housing corporations. It was originally intended to provide housing for families earning a modest $1,200 to $1,500 a year. Occupants would purchase housing corporation common stock equal to the value of the house. Monthly payments would be spread over 20 years that were to cover interest, taxes, upkeep and other fixed costs. The project would be financed through sale of preferred stock with 5% per annum dividend which would be purchased by city and county governments and other investors. The goal was a home built at a cost of $4,500, about 25% less than a comparable home, which a family would own, or be owned by the cooperative. Aerial Section of Garden Homes, 2016
Not everyone was in favor of this project or loved the idea of public housing. According to a Milwaukee Sentinel report some opposed the plan because it "hinted something strongly of Sovietism” and some believed it did not guarantee individual ownership of the homes. Some thought success with this project would bolster the Socialist Party in the county, and other business leaders, real estate boards, and politicians were upset about the high, union scale wages being paid to the workers. The Town of Wauwatosa and Town of Milwaukee were upset about plans by the City of Milwaukee to annex the area. Milwaukee, however, eventually won a decision in 1925 in the Wisconsin Supreme Court that approved the annexation. Some disgruntled Garden Home residents wanted individual titles to their properties so that they could sell them at appreciated values. This led to the cooperative being disbanded in July of 1925. With this change to individual ownership, the Garden Homes Company functioned only to sell the housing stock and pay off all loans—a process that took more than ten years. By the late 1930s only about 40% of the original tenants still lived in the subdivision.
The Garden Homes Historic District in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
Despite its problems, Garden Homes was an exercise in American ingenuity. Costs were cut by using a standardized building plan and production line techniques utilizing the crews of tradesmen to work from one house to the next performing the same job each time. But most of all, the Socialists showed the citizens of Milwaukee that when they made a promise, they kept it.
By Steve Daily
Director, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
Milwaukee Water Treatment Facility, 1910
When Daniel W. Hoan was elected mayor in 1916, he asked the U.S. Public Health Service to examine the condition of Milwaukee’s water and see if they would recommend a filtration plant. He also directed that work be resumed on the long-time pet project of the Socialists, the Linnwood Avenue intake which had begun in 1912, but had been halted when funding ran out. The Public Health Service report recommended immediate construction of a modern filtration plant to prevent “morbidity and mortality from typhoid fever now caused by the polluted water supply.” Riverside Pumping Station on Milwaukee River
Hoan’s appointment of a committee in 1917 to study the problems of filtration and a water treatment plant took two years. During this time, completion of the Linnwood Avenue intake in 1919 started delivering cleaner water to the citizens of Milwaukee. Mayor Hoan fought with those who did not see the need to build high priced structures to filter and treat the water, and those large customers who argued about having to pay higher prices for cleaner water such as the breweries and tanning industries. Some opponents suggested waiting until the sewerage treatment plant was completed before deciding whether to build filtration plants, which was what the Common Council voted to do in 1922.
'Sewer Socialists' were so called because they cared about North Point Pumping Station, Lincoln Memorial Dr.
the health of the citizens and providing good drinking water.
Finally in 1933, with the help of Milwaukee’s new city engineer, Joseph Schwada, and his campaign to educate the citizens about Milwaukee’s water and the need for filtration, that Mayor Hoan and the Socialists were able to declare victory. The Common Council under Socialist August Strehlow passed a resolution to build the filtration plant in June of 1933. Construction began on the Linnwood Avenue Water Purification Plant in 1934 and it went on-line in 1939. Jones Island Sewage Treatment Plant
So it was not until June 26, 1925 when the Jones Island Sewage Treatment Plant opened that further discussions and work began to bring more modern filtration and pumping stations. But it was not to be an immediate thing. Some members of the Common Council, major industries, and some civic groups continued to fight against filtration. They argued that the new Jones Island Sewage Treatment Plant had not been in existence long enough to study its effects on Milwaukee’s water quality. The fighting raged on over the years with some pointing out that, after all, Milwaukee had won the Healthiest City award in 1929 and 1931. Others pointed out that this was because of Milwaukee’s health department, not the quality of the water.
By Steve Daily,
Director, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
Actress Hattie McDaniel was born on June 10, 1895 in Wichita, Kansas to a family of entertainers. She was the 13th child of a banjo-playing Baptist minister and gospel singing mother. While attending high school in Denver, Colorado, her singing abilities brought her work in minstrel shows and eventually found her performing with a vaudeville troupe for five years.
Hattie McDaniel, Singer and Actress 1895-1952
In 1925, Hattie was invited to perform on Denver's radio station which gave her the distinction of being the first African American woman to sing on the radio in the U.S. Ms. McDaniel continued the vaudeville circuit and landed in Milwaukee when the slow down of the Great Depression occurred. She was working as a ladies' room attendant at Sam Pick's when she audition with the song, "St. Louis Blues." In 1929, McDaniel found a steady job as a vocalist at the club and never went back to the maid job. Two years later, Hattie moved to Los Angeles after hearing about work available there on the radio. While she was able to pick up some radio work, at times she had to supplement her income by working at odd jobs.
In 1931, she landed her first film role as an extra in a Hollywood musical. Hattie's first major on-screen break came in 1934 singing a duet with Will Rogers in Judge Priest. The following year Ms. McDaniel landed a role opposite Shirley Temple in The Little Colonel. This part brought her to the attention of major Hollywood directors and a stead stream of offers followed. The highlight of her entertainment career came in 1939 with Hattie playing the role of Mammy, the house servant in Gone with the Wind. This role won her the first Oscar ever given to an African American in 1940. Hattie McDaniel unfortunately lost a battle to breast cancer after starting a new career in television as a maid on The Beulah Show. She died on October 26, 1952.
"I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry."
- Hattie McDaniel, During Her Oscar Acceptance Speech
Milwaukee Mayor Hoan
Daniel Hoan served as mayor of Milwaukee from 1916 to 1940. The twenty-four years that Hoan served as mayor made him the longest serving socialist politician in United States History. He was elected Milwaukee city attorney in 1910, and for the six years before he became mayor, he worked to reduce governmental corruption, which had become a major issue. After being elected mayor, Hoan continued this work on a broader scale, cleaning up local government and making it more efficient. He also implemented countless progressive reforms, many of which proved successful.
Included in these reforms were the Garden Homes Project
, restructuring the city’s public transportation, and a push towards municipal ownership of quarries, water treatment and sewage disposal
. He also began work on a highway system, but funding was cut and the project was put on hold. Eventually, funding was secured and the project was finished in 1977. The expanded system included the Hoan Bridge, Milwaukee’s only tribute to a man who changed our city in so many ways.
Daniel Hoan Was Milwaukee's Longest Serving Socialist Mayor From 1916 to 1940. Former Mayor Emil Seidel and Mayor Daniel Hoan
Socialism is a word often confused with communism. The biggest difference between the two is that socialism is an economic system, while communism is a political one. This means that socialism can work in the context of a democracy, whereas communism cannot. Although socialism does have roots in communism, they are not the same. Communism is often viewed as a more extreme version of socialism. In a communist political system, socialism would likely be the dominant economic system. However, this does not mean that socialism and communism always go hand in hand. There are many programs in the United States that borrow from socialist principles, including Social Security and the highway system. During Hoan’s time as mayor, Milwaukee was the center of the Socialist movement in America. He, along with other politicians, practiced what became known as sewer socialism. This particular branch of socialism focused on cleaning up Milwaukee after the industrial revolution and a return to the basics of socialism to maximize the help given to citizens.
One of Mayor Hoan’s most famous programs was the Garden Homes
project in 1923. The end of World War I brought with it a housing shortage, and politicians were scrambling for a solution. This was when Hoan developed the Garden Homes project, the country’s first public housing project. Hoan commissioned the Garden Homes Company to build six room houses.
When the homes were finished, each family who wanted to live within the project bought stock in the company. Each month, a family made payments on their stock, as well as made a small payment for upkeep on the house. Over the course of the next twenty years, the value of the stock decreased until each family was only paying the rent for the upkeep of the property, not making payments on the stock. A six room home cost about $4,500. For the first month, a family would pay $49.33, and then $22.25 every month after that until his stock was paid off. The project was extremely successful, and by 1936 every family who had purchased stock had it paid off and were homeowners in their own right.
Municipal ownership is the idea that a city’s local government owns and controls services that are used by the public at large, such as the water supply, public transportation and access to natural resources. A system like this prevents large corporations from using these markets to make money. It also allows for consistency. Without municipal ownership, a city could have three water treatment plants, each selling different qualities of water at different prices.
Mayor Hoan believed in municipal ownership of the city’s water, sanitation and quarries. The corruption in local politics at the time ran deep, and many government officials were making money by allowing large corporations to bend the rules. This led to spoiled water and various other problems. In Hoan’s effort to clean up the government and stop corruption, he began the push for municipal ownership, and eventually succeeded in his efforts. Milwaukee’s local government gained ownership of the stone quarries, street lighting, water purification and sewage disposal
By Lena Tomaszek,
Museum Intern, University of Minnesota Undergrad
This panel is part of our 2016 exhibit on Daniel Webster Hoan, Milwaukee's longest serving socialist mayor. For educational purposes, we have made the document available as a pdf. -->
Here’s some news from the Chudnow family! Avrum Chudnow, our founder, was Ruth’s brother, so he may very well have been one of the ones introducing her to her new penpals! We have many of her letters and postcards of correspondence in our archives.
Article originally published in the Milwaukee Journal, December 21, 1942. The reporter, Louis Chapman, usually wrote for the sports section but was a relative of the Chudnows.
By Kayla Sutherland,
Associate, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear