My First Day in Milwaukee: A Good Day in the Good Land

Welcome to Milwaukee!

Welcome to Milwaukee!

One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Schlameel Schlamazel Hassenfeffer Incorporated!

I sat comfortably on the Amtrak as it zoomed past the suburbs in Chicago, Illinois en route to the farmscape of Wisconsin.  From the massive Union Station in the Windy City, the Hiawatha service headed nearly 100 miles north towards Milwaukee.  I was pretty excited to take on this trip because I had never been to the Badger State.  While Wisconsin may not be every travel buffs mind, it is for me since I have made visiting all 50 states a personal goal.  To me, this slice of the midwest just beckoned.

All Aboard Amtrak! All aboard the Hiawatha Service.

All Aboard Amtrak! All aboard the Hiawatha Service.

After counting all the silos, cows, and horses from the window of the train, I saw the clocks of the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower, which is the headquarters of Rockwell Automation, Inc.; an American provider of industrial automation and information solutions.  The company dates back 100 years when they first produced machine parts for cranes and others construction-related operations.  Today, the company is worth over $6 billion and employs over 22,000 people.  The building features the largest four-sided clock in the western hemisphere.  Dedicated on October 31, 1962, it rises 280 feet above the streets of Milwaukee.  Its lighted faces have been used as a navigation aid for Lake Michigan mariners over the years.  There is a second clock face that features a digital clock which also displays the temperature.

Allen-Bradley Clock Tower. It's Milwaukee o'Clock

Allen-Bradley Clock Tower. It’s Milwaukee o’Clock

Once I saw this landmark, I knew I was in Milwaukee.  Sure enough, the train slowly pulled into Milwaukee’s intermodal station.  Like something out of Americana, there was an adjacent Greyhound Bus station for connecting services to Madison and Green Bay.  I headed out onto St. Paul and 4th and headed across the river to the historic Third Ward of Milwaukee.  It was there that I made way to the Milwaukee Public Market.  Most major cities around the world all have a type of public indoor market that features foods in all shapes and sizes that cater to everyone.  Tokyo has Tsukiji, the worlds largest fish market, Marrakech has Jemma-El-Fnaa, Tunis has the Medina, and Istanbul has its famous Grand Bazaar.  Milwaukee Public Market may not have mosaics, hookahs, or marble tile, but everything about this market just screams Wisconsin!  This isn’t just your typical fruit and meat market, but rather a market with EVERY edible delectable!  From the familiar cheeses and sausage logs that the Badger State is famous for, to a variety of donuts (I highly recommend Charlie’s Donuts for their peanut butter and chocolate), a multitude of jams and preserves, pickled meats (you might wanna try the pickled bologna logs for the daring appetite), and comfort food that’ll stick to your ribs.  You’ll find some unusual items that are foreign to Milwaukee like sushi from Japan and Middle-Eastern fare like kabob and shwarma.

Welcome to the Milwaukee Public Market

Welcome to the Milwaukee Public Market

After taking in olfactory delights inside the Public Market, I decided to treat my smell senses to the odor of fresh air and fresh water on the shores of Lake Michigan.  En route to the waterfront area, I took the scenic route past all the old buildings the city is known for.  What I really like about the city was not just how scenic it was, but how well-preserved many of their buildings and churches were.  The decaying marble, the fine-chiseled exterior, the layered exterior, the Romanesque arches, and the brass doorways all made me feel like I was in a turn-of-the-century tableau.  All that felt missing was the dinging of trolley cars, men in straw boaters, and paperboys hawking morning editions for a nickel.  Sorry if I sound corny, but just being around those buildings gave me that feeling.

Milwaukee's amazing architecture!

Milwaukee’s amazing architecture!

A long walk from downtown Milwaukee brought me to Juneau Historical Park, named after Solomon Juneau, the founder of Milwaukee.  The number of boats that were moored and anchored in the harbor at the park made it look like a miniature version of Chicago’s DuSable Harbor.  It seemed that it took forever to reach the edge of the lake, specifically towards the outcropping of rocks at the breakwaters.  After what felt like hours of a slow sojourn, I made it to the edge.  The brisk, morning air combined with the smell coming off the lake made for an unforgettable experience.  It was rather hard to take a picture since the sun was shining off the surface of the lake.

I made my way to another Milwaukee icon: the Milwaukee Art Museum.  On the surface, it looked like something out of a comic book, like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.  Or if you prefer, more like Starfleet Command from Star Trek in futuristic San Francisco.  Instead of the turn-of-the-century architecture from the streets, the museum was a step in the opposite direction that featured a stunning triangular rooftop and a glass vestibule.  The Milwaukee Art Center (now the Milwaukee Art Museum) was formed when the Milwaukee Art Institute and Layton Art Gallery merged their collections in 1957 and moved into the newly built Eero Saarinen-designed Milwaukee County War Memorial.  The Reiman Bridge provides pedestrian access to downtown Milwaukee.  The 341,000-square-foot Museum includes the War Memorial Center (1957) designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, the Kahler Building (1975) designed by David Kahler, and the Quadracci Pavilion (2001) created by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.  Eero Saarinen is the renowned architect who gave the world the St. Lous Gateway Arch, the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport in NYC, and he served on the board of deciders that gave Danish architect Jorn Utzon the rights to build the Sydney Opera House.  The Quadracci Pavilion contains a movable, wing-like brise soleil that opens up for a wingspan of 217 feet during the day, folding over the tall, arched structure at night or during inclement weather.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum

Lunchtime brought me to the Red Rocks Saloon, a country-western bar in downtown Milwaukee.  Why this place?  Well, I saw it first on the Travel Channel in an episode of Man V Food: Nation.  And if Adam Richman visits a place and gives it his blessing, then I know it’s gonna be awesome!  Sure enough, it had menu that featured every bit of bbq bliss from tender beef brisket to spicy pulled pork and ribs.  The main attraction here, however, is the Unforgiven Challenge.  A daring diner had only 23 minutes to eat a massive meal consisting of a “Farm Burger” (an 8 oz. burger topped with a fried egg, cheese, bacon, a fried chicken breast, and another 8oz. burger topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion strings), beer-battered fries, and six chicken wings.  But these wings are inundated with a diabolical hot sauce known as T.C.B. (Taking Care of Business) sauce.  The sauce consists of ghost peppers, which have the spice equivalent of 100 jalapenos, along with capasazin, which is the essence of pure heat found in peppers.  In other words…HOLY S**T, THAT IS HOT!  I, however, was not up to this feat of heat and meat.  I just settled for boneless wings, brisket, and a Miller lite.  After all, I am in Milwaukee!

Red Rocks Saloon

Red Rocks Saloon

Finally, what trip to Milwaukee wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the city’s most celebrated figure: THE FONZ!  From 1974 to 1984, Happy Days was a staple of American television that introduced us to the Cunninghams, Leather Tuscadero, Mork from Ork, Laverne and Shirley, and Arthur Fonzarelli.  The leather jacket wearing, motorcycle riding, selfless, kindhearted, lover of ladies made America want to be him.  And on the Milwaukee Riverwalk, a statue of Henry Winkler’s iconic character sits proudly over the water.  “Bronze Fonz” as he is known by the locals, is always ready for a photo with passers by.

Heyyy!  Sit on it!  Bronze Fonz reigns supreme in Milwaukee!

Heyyy! Sit on it! Bronze Fonz reigns supreme in Milwaukee!

Now I know why Milwaukee is known as “The Good Land!”

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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