By Eric Paulsen Special to Published Sep 01, 2004 at 5:23 AM

{image1}Bigger than Big Ben, octagonal in shape to reflect the A-B logo as it existed for decades, high and bright enough to be used as a nautical navigation tool miles out into Lake Michigan, the Allen-Bradley clock is one of Milwaukee's best-known landmarks.

The top of the clock offers what is perhaps Milwaukee's best view, but the indoor patio and observation area with walls of windows, couches for lounging and a bar, is less well-known.

You may recall pictures of an outdoor patio, with employees attending dances, badminton matches, even golf practice, in Milwaukee history books. The outdoor patio was on the rooftop of the 1928 addition, which now is home to Milwaukee's largest temperature display. While the outdoor patio is gone, its indoor replacement opened in 1962 and has delighted A-B customers, employees and other visitors ever since.

Perched atop the clock, 17 stories above South Second Street, the 360-degree panoramic view of the city, lake and horizon approaches breathtaking proportions. You're high enough to see for miles, yet low enough to view details in all directions: downtown's skyscrapers give way to neighborhoods; new condo buildings emerge from rusted-out factories abutting the Amtrak line from Chicago; massive ships creep under the Hoan Bridge; cars and trucks hustle -- and sometimes crawl -- along Interstate-94/43 as it cuts past South Side neighborhoods and city icons like St. Stanislaus' twin church towers; Miller Park dominates the horizon to the northwest, but if you look closely enough on a clear day, the twin steeples of Holy Hill pierce the horizon some 30 miles away.

Yet you can see people as they walk in and out of many of the bars in Walker's Point below, or kids as they ride their bikes up and down the city streets in the shadow of the clock tower.

So is it open to the public? How might one be able to get up there and take it all in?

"It's mainly an entertainment area for our customers," says Steve Smith, media relations manager for Rockwell Automation. "Sometimes, though, we donate an evening in the clock tower for various charity events for auction. That's pretty much the only way it's open to the public."

If you would really like to get up and check out the view from the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower, keep an eye on community and organization fund raisers and charity events; they will sometimes have an "evening in the clock tower," complete with a stocked bar, available for auction.

And it's worth every penny.

For a history of the Allen-Bradley Company, check out

Eric Paulsen Special to
Eric Paulsen is a Milwaukee native but also grew up in Chicago, Detroit and Dallas, which means he’s never lived in a decent climate. Paulsen works as the Communications Officer for the Greater Milwaukee Committee, serves as a writer and contributor for commercials and a national TV show and pops up on 103.7 Kiss FM on weekends, doing his share of overplaying Top 40 hits. Previously, he was a business partner and director in a start-up online research company that began in 1998 and reached the Inc. 500 list by 2005. He was an early contributing writer for, dating back to 1999. He got his MBA from UW-Milwaukee in 2007 and also holds a BS in Consumer Science (a degree he can’t explain, either) from UW-Madison and thus cheers on the Badgers with reckless abandon. Eric is a graduate of the Future Milwaukee Leadership Program and participates in many community-minded events and initiatives, invited or not. When he’s not working, Paulsen enjoys running, road trips and practicing for a future career as a beer connoisseur.