Folks love historical photos, and nothing seems more exciting than finding a new cache of vintage images that shine a different light on familiar, if altered, local landscapes.
Just recently a trove emerged when Winter Haven, Florida-based professional photographer Tom Hagerty began sharing on Facebook photos he took in Milwaukee decades ago.
The photos began appearing recently on Hagerty’s own profile, but also in the popular Old Milwaukee group.
The shots are heavily focused around the Marquette University campus and a few other select sites in town, taken in 1976, 1978 and 1980.
"I first visited Milwaukee Oct. 1-4, 1976, when a friend and I drove from Detroit to visit my cousin, who was as a student at Marquette, and to see the Detroit Tigers play the Brewers at County Stadium," says Hagerty, explaining why many of his photos were taken at Wells Street taverns and at the stadium.
"It was a gorgeous fall weekend and I immediately fell in love with Milwaukee. It struck me as a big small town, and I mean that as a compliment. Living in Detroit, I had never experienced Milwaukee’s plethora of friendly neighborhood taverns. We visited several of them and felt at home in each one."
What’s great about the images is that they aren’t of traditional "landmarks." Instead, they capture bartenders, tavern patrons, stadium-goers and others just going about their days, having a good time in the same unself-conscious way most of us do.
"I try not to overthink photography," says Hagerty. "If I see something I like, I photograph it. And Milwaukee provided plenty of interesting subjects.
"I still take photos, now more than ever. Hardly a day goes by that I fail to photograph something or someone. And I’ve always enjoyed street photography, so I still take photos of similar subjects."
Hagerty also took photos in Milwaukee in June 1978.
"We made a road trip to see the (Grateful) Dead at Summerfast but there was a thunderstorm the night they were supposed to play so they had to cancel. I fell down and broke a bone in my foot, and I stayed in Milwaukee the next day while my friends drove to St Paul to catch the next Dead show."
Hagerty returned for the last time in 1980.
Over the years, his photographs have appeared in many places.
"I also have my own business, Tom Hagerty Photography," says the photographer, who works as a photographer and writer at Polk State College in Florida. "My clients include the Detroit Tigers, the Lakeland Flying Tigers minor-league baseball team, the City of Lakeland and others.
"Over the years I have done a variety of photography, including commercial, forensic, advertising, public relations, portraits, travel and sports. My work has appeared in alumni publications, annual reports, yearbooks, websites and publications such as the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Tampa Tribune, MiLB.com, Baseball America, Florida Trend Magazine, , Bleacher Report, and the books "Baseball in Savannah," "A Brief Peculiar History of Detroit," "5000 Ways You Know You’re From Detroit," and "Baseball Fantography: A Celebration in Snapshots and Stories from the Fans."
And now, at OnMilwaukee, where I’m pleased to be able to share with you a small selection of Hagerty’s beautiful images of a Milwaukee that is mostly now gone.
Looking north on Jefferson Street
Real Chili, 16th and Wells
Wooden Nickel, 2nd and Wisconsin, recently demolished
Midget Tavern on 24th and Wells
The Avalanche, 15th and Wells
Tom Kernan, Kernan's Tap, 14th and Wells
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.