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Great American Cities – Milwaukee Posted by on May 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

After visiting Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland, we’ve got one more Midwest city before we move on to a different region. Let’s learn about the Great American City of Milwaukee:

Milwaukee from above. Image by Ron Reiring from flickr.com.

Milwaukee from above. Image by Ron Reiring from flickr.com.

Name – It’s believed that the name comes from the Algonquin word Millioke. There are a few different ideas for the meaning – “gathering place by the waters” and “the good land” being the most popular. The meaning of Milwaukee even made it into pop culture, when rock star Alice Cooper brought it up in the comedy “Wayne’s World.”

Location – Milwaukee is located in Wisconsin on the western shore of Lake Michigan. It’s also at the confluence of three rivers – the Menomonee, the Kinnickinnic, and the Milwaukee.

Nicknames – Thanks to its famous beer industry, Milwaukee is known as Brew Town or Brew City. It’s also called Cream City, but not thanks to Wisconsin’s large dairy industry. The nickname actually comes from the city’s distinctive cream-colored brick. Miltown or The Mil are simple abbreviations and are also used.

Year Founded – Native American tribes such as the Potawatomi, Fox, and Menominee were the first recorded inhabitants to the area. They fought in many wars, both alongside and against the newly-independent Americans. After the Black Hawk War in 1832, the Indians signed a treaty with the US, paving the way for American settlement. Three early settlers each built their own village around the rivers, and all were rivals. Finally, they decided the best course of action would be to unite. On January 31, 1846 they formed the City of Milwaukee.

Downtown Milwaukee. Image by Jim Bauer from flickr.com.

Downtown Milwaukee. Image by Jim Bauer from flickr.com.

Population – As of 2014, just under 600,000 people call Milwaukee home. While it’s the largest city in Wisconsin, it comes in at #31 in the country. The population is 37% White (Non-Hispanic), 40% Black, 17% Hispanic, and 3.5% Asian.

Transportation – The General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee has nonstop flights to nearly 90 cities. The Intermodal Station now hooks up train and bus routes heading in and out of the city. The Port of Milwaukee is primarily used for cargo, but the Lake Express ferry takes cars and passengers between the city and Muskegon, MI from late spring to fall. It’s easy to get a taxi or use ride share apps such as Uber and Lyft as well. Milwaukee also has public share bikes all across the city, and during the summer there’s also a trolley loop operating downtown.

Famous Places – The most famous part of Milwaukee is definitely its beautiful lakefront. It’s a great place to walk or cycle, especially in the warmer months. Here you can visit the Art Museum, the War Memorial Center, and more.

One of the most famous places in the city is Miller Park, home to the city’s professional baseball team. It’s unique for its fan-shaped retractable roof that can open and close in less than ten minutes.

A relatively new addition to the city is the Riverwalk, a pedestrian walkway along the Milwaukee River downtown.

Culture – Milwaukee is often referred to as the City of Festivals, as it hosts various events at the Henry Maier Festival Park on the shores of Lake Michigan. These include the African World Festival, Mexican Fiesta, PrideFest, and Summerfest, which is the world’s largest music festival.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Image by ThreeIfByBike from flickr.com.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Image by ThreeIfByBike from flickr.com.

The city is also home to many museums, including the stunning Milwaukee Art Museum. You can also visit Discovery World, a large science museum with hands-on and high-tech exhibits. The Harley-Davidson Museum, paying tribute to the world-famous motorcycles, is the only one of its kind in the world.

Performing arts are also a big part of the city’s culture, as it’s home to over 20 professional dance and theater companies. It’s possible to see all types of performances at the city’s many venues.

Lakefront Brewery

Lakefront Brewery

Of course, you can’t talk about the culture of Milwaukee without mentioning beer. Milwaukee has been a beer city since the 1850s when German immigrants started brewing here. The city was once home to four of the world’s largest breweries (Schlitz, Blatz, Miller, and Pabst), and it is now home to several craft breweries. Take a brewery tour, hit a biergarten (German for beer garden), or enjoy a cold one at one of the city’s many taverns. Milwaukee likes beer so much, they even named their baseball team after it!

Sports – While Milwaukee has several sports teams and clubs, it only has two in the major leagues – the Bucks in the NBA and the Brewers in the MLB. The Admirals are a hockey team in the AHL, and the Wave are an indoor soccer club. Although the city doesn’t have a professional football team, most people root for the Green Bay Packers.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.