Vintage photographs allow us to step back in time and rethink the Milwaukee landscape that we see and know and inhabit today. They let us see how our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents saw and inhabited the same space decades ago.
Plus, they’re pretty darn fascinating.
Thankfully, there are collectors out there scouring antique stores, Ebay and any place they might unearth these treasures.
One of those collectors is the extremely knowledgeable and affable Terry Johannes, who has graciously responded to my request to select some rare gems from his personal stash of Milwaukee history. (Alas, the photographer's names are lost to history.)
Here are a dozen images he selected.
Green Diamond passenger train, Everett Street Milwaukee Road station, 1936
Looking south down Water Street from City Hall, circa 1900
Looking east along Wells Street from City Hall, circa 1900
Milwaukee armory, jail and firehouse, Broadway and Wells
The Italian National Savings Bank, 720 N. Jackson St., circa 1920
City Hall area, circa early 1920s
Looking north on Plankinton Avenue from Michigan Street, 1939
American Legion convention parade, Kilbourn Avenue, 1941
Looking south from the Kilbourn Avenue bridge, 1924
Sisters of Notre Dame convent, Knapp and Milwaukee Streets, 1939, demolished around 1960
Elk’s Club Flag Day celebration, Mason and Prospect, 1952
Elk’s Club national convention, Wisconsin Avenue, 1901
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.