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All that remains of Skelly's four dining rooms and century of pastries is this sign.
All that remains of Skelly's four dining rooms and century of pastries is this sign.

6 photos of disappeared Milwaukee

About a month ago, I posted some random photos of Milwaukee and the response was such that I decided to share a few more with you. This time, I realized as I looked through my previously un-mined selection of photos, there's a bent toward disappeared streets and ghost signs, with a dangerous hobby tossed in for good measure. 

So, let's consider this a look at "disappeared" Milwaukee, if that's even possible...

1. Disappeared streets, part 1 

Now sitting beneath Columbia St. Mary's Hospital, the Catholic Home and the Lutheran home are the former Hydraulic Avenue and Sheridan Avenue (which ran parallel to the north of Hydraulic and is not shown on this map -- it would be just above the words "State Ind. School"), along with a stretch of Summit Avenue that no longer exists (and had previously been called Third Avenue). South of Hydraulic and parallel to it was a street that had previously been called Reservoir for a while, too, back when there was, well, a reservoir on the site. Hydraulic ran along the northern side of the reservoir.

2. Disappeared streets, part 2

Where the Milwaukee County Transit System complex now sits, there were a few short streets called Tomah, Neenah and Paradise Alley. A bit northeast there was also Jesper. Thanks to what was likely a typo on the 1910 Sanborn map, Vine Street was briefly renamed Wine, making us wish there had been an intersection of Paradise and Wine.

3. Disappeared streets, part 3

The Milwaukee Public Library's Krug Rare Books Room has an incredible bound map of Milwaukee drawn by Increase Lapham in 1836. There, in Kilbourn's neck of the woods (or more appropriately, his tamarack swamp) west of the river, there are some waterfront streets like Point, Basin and Cape that can no longer be strolled. Basin appears to be platted in the river as it slips between the west bank and an island, tracing a channel later apparently filled in.

4. Ghost signs, part 1

Skelly's Restaurant is no longer serving breakfast, luncheon or dinners in its four dining rooms at 622 W. Wisconsin Ave., but thanks to the demolition of the parking lot on 6th and Wells, you can now easily see the sign painted on the back of the building, which touts a century of fine food and home-made pastries at Skelly's.

5. Ghost signs, part 2

I found this old Milwaukee Soap Co. sign on the side of a building in the 30th Street industrial corridor, just south of Lisbon. The research I turned up on the company (all of which dates from the 1960s) doesn't list a location at this site, so perhaps this was just an ad. The lower section is gone, so it's hard to say if there was more, but the company, founded in 1931, claimed to be, in the early '60s, "Milwaukee's original and oldest soap and detergent outlet," with three retail locations. Customers were advised that, "contrary to rumors, (the company had) no connections or affiliations with any other soap stores."

6. Roof sitting

When I came upon this photo from a 1914 report by the City Club titled, "Recreation in Milwaukee," I was shocked -- mostly as a parent, perhaps -- by the sight of a kid sitting on the peak of this (unidentified) schoolhouse roof. Later, I heard talk of roof sitting as a pastime among Milwaukee kids. No wonder the report suggested Milwaukee needed to boost its playground options for city youth. I hope that the kid up there took the tornado slide (at left) to get down and didn't jump (or fall).


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