By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 16, 2015 at 12:03 PM

Ever wondered what lies below the city's sidewalks? Interestingly, there are numerous spaces that afford such a view. Many of them lie within the basements of buildings, which extend out beneath the paved pathways above (which I wrote about here).

Today, I got to stroll an old section of the basement of the Mackie Building on Michigan and Broadway, which runs beneath the sidewalk on the east side of Broadway, just south of Michigan.

Interesting is that the building's basement has windows out into the space (see photo above), which Mackie owner Josh Jeffers says suggests maybe there was once a long light well – or a number of shorter ones – running the length of the building that was later covered.

Also interesting is that above your head are giant limestone slabs that are surely among the oldest extant pavements:

The space pushes right out to a wall that runs along the curb line, separating this area from the area beneath the roadway. Vaults connecting the spaces have been bricked up, as you can see in this photo:

In some cases, those vaults still do have sewer laterals running through them.

There's also an interesting array of things supporting the sidewalk above, including thick, bark-stripped tree trunk sections that serve as columns, and ancient iron beams, some so corroded they look like rotting wood:

But my favorite set-up is in the photo below, which shows a decorative iron column holding up one of those old iron beams, which is further supported by a section of tree (with old bark, which looks like bits of cloth, trailing off it) jammed between the beam and the cream city brick wall nearby.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," 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 has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.