A few years back we produced a video of original photographs of Milwaukee taken between 1965 and 1975 by Glenn Gohlke, an owner of Realty Dynamics. Since then it has become the most watched video on our website. So by request, we have reproduced it here.
If you’re relocating to Milwaukee, our city is better looking and has much more to offer today than 40 years ago. We’ve actually grown a bit of a skyline in recent years and downtown offers much more now. Much of the heavy industry that Milwaukee was known for has left along with the railroad yards that served it and without a doubt we’ve cleaned up our pollution since those days. But still for those of us who lived here then it’s easy to feel a little nostalgic looking back at places now long gone.
Milwaukee’s been called “the biggest small town in America” and “A great place on a great lake”. We call it home! If you’re moving here, we hope you’ll come to love it as we do. We hope you’ll stay a while – a long while! Maybe someday you too will reminisce about the days you enjoyed long ago in Milwaukee. We hope you’ve enjoyed “Everything Milwaukee” and hope also that it will help you to get familiar with your new home here in Southeastern Wisconsin.
From a time before Summerfest and before Milwaukee’s skyline included the First Wisconsin building and the Dan Hoan Bridge — from a time when every year more than a half dozen big ships wintered over in the harbor — a time before the ‘Linda E’ had gone missing and we found out later that she sunk in a collision with a lake freighter — from a time when the land where Northridge Mall once thrived, a picture post card horse farm once stood –
From the Milwaukee Solvay Coke plant at Jones Island to the Milwaukee Road yards in the valley — from the 3rd Ward when it was almost a ghost town to the bustling UOP Bostrom plant just a few blocks to the south where they made seats for trucks — from a time when the ‘Riverboat’ proudly stood just south of the North Avenue bridge, before they blew up the dam –
From Gimbels department store downtown and Schuster’s at Capitol Court; from the old Wisconsin Avenue bridge and the old 100 East Wisconsin Building to Milwaukee County Stadium, the home of the Milwaukee Braves –
From then until now, Milwaukee has always been a great place in my heart! Maybe I’m a little partial since I was born and raised here!
I’ve put together just a handful of the thousands of photographs I took then. Milwaukee’s harbor and railroad yards always fascinated me. At the time many of these pictures would not have been very interesting to most people.
It’s interesting how we look
back years later when things
are gone, longing to be able
to “go back” for just
one more look!
Those were simpler times, just about four decades ago. It was a time before Facebook, Google, YouTube and Netflix, before the Internet and cell phones and personal computers. Many people still had a black & white TV set. Electronic calculators were pretty expensive so few of us had one. Sears & Roebuck had a really nice four function one for only $79.95! Some cars still had “curb feelers” and “wing windows” were still pretty common.
Looking back now it’s easy to see how the memories of that time became golden for many people. Not everything then was good — the Vietnam war, student protests, assassinations — all were unfortunate news items of the day. But still, in all, what could it hurt to count up all that was good not so long ago —
It was a time when you could buy regular gas for “19.9” at the Wisco 99 Station and the attendant actually ran out to pump your gas, clean your windshield and give you a free drinking glass — all you had to do was ‘crank’ down the window and say “Fill ‘er up!” There were only four McDonalds in Milwaukee back then and a hamburger would set you back 15 cents! You could take your best date to the “41 Twin” or the “StarLight” outdoor theaters. VHS, Beta, CDs and answering machines were all things of the future! Even Star Wars wasn’t a part of our lives yet!
Women wore dresses and men wore suits to church. Some drug stores still had soda fountains. We’d stop for a chocolate malt on the way home after school if we had a quarter in our pocket! Life was good! People bought stereo record albums (all the rage) and on cold winter days every building’s chimney would be “smoking”. Most homes still had rotary dial telephones and if you had one on every floor, you had arrived! It was a time before cable TV and if you wanted to see a first run movie you had to go downtown. It was a different time!
If you were there, I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back. If you’re too young to have experienced those simpler times, it might make you wonder how your parents and grandparent grew up without text messaging! Imagine day after day without a phone in your pocket 24/7! Imagine life before Wall Mart, Home Depot, Menards and even before K-Mart — OMG! Imagine, if you wanted to learn something you had to go to a library! How DID we manage then?
When I was growing up my mom use to tell me about the horses on the streets of Milwaukee and the men that delivered ice. She talked about party line telephones, street cars, the old Wells Street trestle that went over ‘Pigsville’ and when Uncle Ted became the first member of the family to actually own a car! Wow how things had changed in her life!
Now its my turn!
If you’re under 25, take a look around you right now — what will you tell your grandchildren about how Milwaukee was way back then — way back in 2015!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this look back to a different time — not so long ago!