By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 21, 2004 at 5:27 AM

{image1}How much has Milwaukee changed over the years? Well, a lot and a little, judging by the comparison photos in "Milwaukee Then and Now," a new book written by Sandy Ackerman and Historic Milwaukee, Inc.

Published by San Diego's Thunder Bay Press, a division of England's Chrysalis Publishing, the hardcover book has 70 black and white and 70 color pictures that show what's changed and what's remained the same in Milwaukee over the past century or so.

Check out the photos of the Cawker Building on Plankinton and Wells and it looks like little more than the cars -- and that honkin' blue building in the background -- are all that have really changed. But flip the page to compare the Wisconsin Avenue bridge over the river and you'll be hard-pressed to find anything in both pictures, save the Iron Block Building.

"I think my favorite pictures are the front and back covers because of the changes that have taken place in that area," says Ackerman. "The river is now so much more a part of the city with the buildings having some orientation to it and the river walk offering people a chance to enjoy it.

"The Jones Island pictures probably show the most change -- from village to major International port. Walker's Point pictures show the least change and that is what makes it so unique and a great place to take a tour."

And Ackerman, a Milwaukee native, knows all about tours. Since 1995 she has been the Executive Director of Historic Milwaukee, Inc. (HMI), which leads walking and other tours through neighborhoods all across the city. The recent Spaces and Traces Tour of Sherman and Grant Boulevards attracted more than 1,100 people on a recent Saturday afternoon.

"The book ... is really an Historic Milwaukee book but the publisher wouldn't put that on the cover," Ackerman says. "I did do all the writing, however -- so in effect it is my book."

So, how did Ackerman and a British publisher come together to do a book about Milwaukee?

"We were approached last summer by Chrysalis books in London," Ackerman says. "Once the contract between HMI and Chrysalis was signed, I had one week to select 90 "Then" photos from the Milwaukee County Historical Society's collection. I had made a list of what I wanted to look for. I took one of our volunteers along and we tried to pick out photos that haven't been featured before. Once we had them and sent copies to London, they sent a photographer to do the "Now" photos.

"In the meantime, I had August and September to write the captions -- limiting myself to 90 words each. As you can imagine, that was a daunting task. There were a few rewrites (and) editing chores to be done. We may both (US and England) speak English, but some words don't translate."

Ackerman says she has no plans at the moment for another book, but won't rule it out.

"The idea is intriguing," she says. "Maybe after I retire!"

In the meantime, you can meet Ackerman and have her sign a copy of "Milwaukee Then and Now," Tuesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. at Schwartz Bookshop, 4093 N. Oakland Ave., in Shorewood. Admission is free.

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 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.