Go ahead and chuckle. It’s true. My life has devolved into an arcane search for the minutiae of Milwaukee history, much of it of the hyperlocal kind.
But just when I think no one cares about this stuff, I’m proved wrong. Milwaukeeans are eager to know the history of their homes, their neighborhoods, their schools, the city around them.
The other day, a plaque caught my eye and led to a fury of activity and an article – about one single corner in the city – that will run here in a couple weeks. A co-worker was enthusiastic about it.
The day after that, I posted an image from a Sanborn map to my Facebook page with a note about how MPS expanded its playgrounds in the 1920s and that drew a number of interested comments. One of the images I followed with was of the site of Fernwood Montessori, which at the time of the 1910 map, was home to District 3 school in the Town of Lake. Two small structures nearby on the map appear to be outhouses. More comments.
Yesterday, someone tipped me off to the Wisconsin Historic Aerial Image Finder site, which has great 1937 images of the city. While the images in parts of town built earlier are fun, the real action is in the images shot in the parts of the city that sprung up later. For instance, I posted one photo to Facebook showing early development in Gale Crest (now Enderis) Park, with nothing but empty space to the west and northwest.
One of my current ongoing searches is for maps from the 1860s, 1870s and early 1880s that might show the siting of the earlier schoolhouses on the current Maryland Avenue Montessori School property.
Yesterday, I happened upon a map of 1870s Milwaukee hanging on the wall in the hallway of the Common Council offices on the third floor of City Hall. While the map shows schools, for some reason it doesn’t show the Murray School on Maryland Avenue.
But there’s lots of fun stuff there anyway as you can see in the images above.
Across from the Maryland Avenue School property you can see three streets that no longer exist: Hydraulic and Reservoir (so named because they once flanked a reservoir on that site) and Sheridan, which connected them.
In the first image, you can spy the fact that Oakland Avenue was called "Old Sheboygan Road" north of Belleview Place, which is the most northerly street platted on that part of the East Side.
I really enjoy the note marking "Camp Sigel, U.S. Civil War Army Camp Site Late in C. War it Was Renamed C. Reno." Another note adds that it was, "Also Site of First Baseball Game in 1869 (Between Cinncinnati – sic – Red Stockings and the Milwaukee Cream City Club.)"
That area is now home to Comet Cafe, Bull’s Eye Records and Koppa’s. A bit further east, before you get to the river was the "Original Marsh Land."
In the second image, at the far right, you’ll notice "Future Site of Reservoir," which was true. Note that Palmer Street was called Short Street. You can also see the rest of the "Original Marsh Land."
Most interesting to me is the location of the Juneau School (which became the First District, and, later, Cass Street School). It’s situated in the "Cow Pasture," which occupied the blocks from Van Buren to Marshall, Pleasant to Brady.
My search for the elusive one-room and two-room schoolhouses at Maryland Avenue continues...
Bobby Tanzilo | Nov. 12, 2013 at 9:19 a.m. (report)
Thanks Adamzero! Those are scores that would make even slow-pitch softball teams blush.
cuthbert | Nov. 12, 2013 at 8:03 a.m. (report)
Purists might argue that - in the above context - the game should be written as "base ball" rather than "baseball." "Base ball" (two, separate, words) was the spelling used prior to the 1880s. The rules for "base ball" are also moderately different than those for "baseball."
Actually, the first baseball game was played in Milwaukee 10 years earlier in 1859:
According to the Dec. 1, 1859, edition of the Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, "This game, now so popular at the East, is about to be introduced in our own city. A very spirited impromptu match was played on the Fair Ground, Spring Street Avenue...six on a side..."
Among those playing was the organizer, Sentinel part-owner and editor Rufus King, who was 45.
A very primitive box score of the game followed, with King's team winning over J.L. Hathaway's squad, 85-40. Seven players are listed for each side.
The teams met again Dec. 10 - this time nine players were listed for each team - with Hathaway's side winning, 33-28. The Sentinel described it as "a vigorous game of base ball under the national rules...."
A week later the two teams met once more, and again Hathaway's team was victorious, 54-33. The game lasted five innings, probably because "the weather was blustering and patches of snow on the ground made it slippery and rather too damp for sharp play."
Perhaps they should have thought of using a retractable roof.
There still is a cow pasture on brady, its called Club Brady.
Hey Brew City Paul, I was just looking at the Milwaukee Public Library digital collection yesterday and ran across a few awesome pictures of Brady Street from the 60s/70s. http://content.mpl.org/cdm/search/collection/HstoricPho and just search for Brady.
Show me the other Talkback
6 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Feb. 27, 2015
You'll be unsurprised to hear that visiting interesting Milwaukee buildings of all kinds leads to meeting all kinds of similarly interesting Milwaukeeans. But, when I visited Milwaukee Fire Dept.'s Engine 01, 784 N. Broadway, recently, the folks I met there were at least as interesting than the building itself.
Published Feb. 27, 2015
The Milwaukee Board of School Directors on Thursday night approved the construction contract to renovate the vacant Malcolm X site, 2760 N. 1st St., into a new home for Rufus King International Middle School, which currently inhabits a former elementary school.
Published Feb. 25, 2015
It always surprises me how many hotels there once were in Downtown Milwaukee. Here's a little look at one of them.
Published Feb. 24, 2015
Brewing in Milwaukee thrives today and at a range of levels, from homebrewers to craft beer producers to major breweries. Despite the differences in scale, all these brewmasters share a basic love for the work and for the results ... and they feel the weight of the the city's tradition of brewing.
Published Feb. 23, 2015
Though it's no longer there, one Downtown venue hosted at least three landmark clubs.
Published Feb. 23, 2015
Tending bar can mean different things, based on the setting. Slinging drinks at a corner tap isn't anything like manning the wine station at an art museum event or concocting craft cocktails at a fancy restaurant. Milwaukee's Tammy Petoskey has worked at South Side saloons, but now she gets a different view from behind the bar at Wild Earth Cucina, the Italian restaurant in the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino.
Published Feb. 20, 2015
The Third Ward awoke to some sad news this morning. According to an email sent out by Nancy O'Keefe, executive director of the Historic Third Ward Association, Bella Caffe co-owner Tim Talsky passed away Thursday night.
Published Feb. 19, 2015
General Capital Group and Joseph Property Development bought three properties from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in September and unveiled plans to raze the structures to build a mixed-use development with retail, apartments and a commons space for MIAD students to replace one of the buildings, which had served as the school's student union. Two of the three are threatened with destruction.
Published Feb. 18, 2015
With news that the 50-year-old "Streets of Old Milwaukee" - one of the most beloved experiences for people of all ages in Milwaukee - will close briefly at the end of summer for a update, we started to think about what we'd like to see in the streets. So, with tongue sometimes firmly in cheek, I suggest...
Published Feb. 18, 2015
Though ticket prices will rise beginning Monday, March 2, individual admission to the Milwaukee Public Museum will now include free entry to a planetarium show, as well as admission to a new permanent exhibit that opens next month.