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Whether or not we see it, Milwaukee is changing a little bit every day.

Sometimes we don't see Milwaukee changing right before our eyes

The other day, I accompanied Andy Tarnoff to the Milwaukee County Historical Society to check out the "Milwaukee in Miniature" exhibit which has Ferdinand Aumueller's tiny recreations of mostly disappeared Milwaukee landmarks.

Seeing the show reminded how much Milwaukee has changed in the nearly 30 years I've lived here; how the razing of some buildings and the construction of others has altered the cityscape.

But I also was reminded later that same day that change happens all the time and sometimes little things we see every day and take for granted can quietly flicker and go dark and often it takes a long time to realize; it can require waiting to see a cumulative effect.

That thought struck me as I drove west on I-794 through Downtown and I suggested that my older kid show the younger one what we used to call the "changing light tower," which referred to the modest light show that used to illuminate the tower atop 606 E. Wisconsin Ave.

As an aside, like most children, mine are very observant, and so we have lots of kid-generated names – some obvious and some less so – for Milwaukee landmarks, such as:

  • The old beer place = Pabst
  • The new beer place = Miller
  • TV tower = the tower atop the Downtown Hilton City Center
  • Light-up window place = Milwaukee County Historical Society
  • Lighthouse library = Central Library
  • Dinosaur museum = Milwaukee Public Museum

But, we couldn't find the changing light tower that used to be something that hypnotized my eldest in the past. The tower is still there, but it's unlit.

When did it go dark? Has it been days? Weeks? Months? Sure, it's a small facet of the night skyline Downtown, but it was one of ours. What else has changed right before our eyes that we haven't noticed yet?


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