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Milwaukee Introduction Walk (Self Guided), Milwaukee

Milwaukee, a city in Wisconsin sitting on the western shore of Lake Michigan, is known primarily for its breweries. However, if you're not beer thirsty, you'll find much other delectable stuff there fit to satisfy your culture and curiosity buds. The Grohmann Museum, hosting the world's most comprehensive art collection depicting the evolution of human work, is one such place. If you travel with kids under 10, make sure to bring them to Betty Brinn Children's Museum featuring hands-on exhibits and interactive programs. For your own self, check out Discovery World, Milwaukee's largest museum dedicated to science, or visit the nearby - just along the lake front - Milwaukee Art Museum, perhaps the city's most visually prominent cultural attraction, in large part for its $100-million wing designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. All of these and many other notable attractions of Milwaukee are brought together in this orientation walk. Explore and enjoy!
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Milwaukee Introduction Walk Map

Guide Name: Milwaukee Introduction Walk
Guide Location: USA » Milwaukee (See other walking tours in Milwaukee)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 Km or 3 Miles
Author: StaceyP
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
  • Grohmann Museum
  • Milwaukee City Hall
  • Pabst Theatre
  • Gertie the Duck
  • 100 East Wisconsin
  • Mitchell Building
  • Milwaukee Public Market
  • The Historic Third Ward
  • Betty Brinn Children's Museum
  • Discovery World
  • The Milwaukee Art Museum
  • Milwaukee County War Memorial Center
The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

1) The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is the episcopal see of the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee, located just east of Cathedral Square Park. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Milwaukee Landmark. Archbishop John Henni purchased land for the cathedral in 1844. The cornerstone was laid on December 5, 1847, after nearly $30,000 was raised for construction. It was completed in 1852 and dedicated to John the Evangelist.

The building was designed by architect Victor Schulte in the nineteenth-century Zopfstil style and built using Cream City brick, a distinct light colored brick found locally. A fire partially destroyed the church and most of its contents in January 1935. Only the tower remained fully intact. Rebuilding was completed in time for midnight mass on Christmas Eve of 1942. St. John's Cathedral features thirteen large hand-cut stained glass windows made by T.C. Esser Company of Milwaukee. A large tomb-shaped baptismal pool and marble font is also situated prominently in the center of the sanctuary. In 2001 a gated garden and atrium were added at the north end of the building.

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1997. It was rededicated on February 9, 2002, following a controversial renovation project which consisted of some restoration work on the historic structure but also a radical remodeling of the interior.

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Sight description based on wikipedia
Grohmann Museum

2) Grohmann Museum (must see)

The Grohmann Museum, at Milwaukee School of Engineering, is home to the world's most comprehensive art collection dedicated to the evolution of human work. The museum opened on October 27, 2007 and is located at 1000 N. Broadway.

The museum has three floors of galleries where a core collection is displayed along with feature exhibitions. The museum also has a rooftop sculpture garden, a vending cafe and museum store. It is named in honor of Dr Eckhart Grohmann, an Milwaukee School of Engineering Regent, Milwaukee businessman and avid art collector, who donated the Man at Work collection to Milwaukee School of Engineering in 2001 and subsequently the funds to purchase, renovate and operate the museum that bears his name.

German artist Hans Dieter Tylle created stained glass, a mosaic atrium floor, a ceiling mural and rooftop mural for the museum. With nearly 900 European and American paintings, sculptures and works on paper that depict various forms of work, the Grohmann Museum Collection is the world's most comprehensive collection of its kind. The collection spans over 400 years of history (17-20th centuries). Most of the works in the Grohmann Museum collection are by German and Dutch artists, although others were created by American, Austrian, Belgian, Bohemian, Danish, Dutch, English, Hungarian, Flemish, French and Spanish artists.

Operation hours: Monday to Friday: 9 am - 5 pm; Saturday: 12 am - 6 pm; Sunday: 1 pm - 4 pm.

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Milwaukee City Hall

3) Milwaukee City Hall (must see)

The Milwaukee City Hall was finished in 1895, at which time it was the tallest habitable building in the United States. The city hall's bell tower, at 353 feet, also made it the second tallest structure in the nation, behind the Washington Monument. The Hall was Milwaukee's tallest building until completion of the First Wisconsin Center in 1973.

Milwaukee City Hall was designed by architect Henry C. Koch in the German Renaissance Revival style, based on both German precedent and local examples. The foundation consists of 2,584 white pine pilers which were driven in to the marshy land surrounding the Milwaukee River. The upper part of the tower was rebuilt after a fire in October 1929. The bell in City Hall was named after Solomon Juneau, Milwaukee's first mayor. It was designed and crafted by the Campbells. City Hall was the marketing symbol of Milwaukee until the completion of the Calatrava wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2001, but the bell tower continues to be used as a municipal icon and in some traffic and parking signs. City Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and declared a National Historic Landmark in 2005.

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Sight description based on wikipedia
Pabst Theatre

4) Pabst Theatre (must see)

The Pabst Theater, or "Grande Olde Lady", hosts about 100 events per year, including music, comedy, dance, opera, and theater events. Built in 1895, it is the fourth-oldest continuously operating theater in the United States, and has presented such notables as pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, actor Laurence Olivier, and ballerina Anna Pavlova. It is officially designated a City of Milwaukee Landmark and a State of Wisconsin Historical Site, and was also designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991.

The Pabst is a traditional proscenium stage theater with two balconies, for a total capacity of 1,345 people. The theater also has a hydraulic orchestra pit, adding to its suitability for virtually any performing arts event. A large, 2-ton Austrian crystal chandelier hangs over the auditorium. The theater also boasts a staircase crafted from white Italian Carrara marble and a proscenium arch highlighted in gold leaf, which frames the stage. The Pabst was designed by architect Otto Strack in the tradition of European opera houses and the German Renaissance Revival style.

The Pabst has undergone several renovations, the first of which was in 1928. In 1976, it was restored to its original style. In 1989, a colonnade was added to connect the theater to the Milwaukee Center. The latest renovations took place in 2000; elevators were added, the ventilation system was modernized, more bathrooms were added, and some seats were replaced. The theater also added Cudahy’s Irish Pub to the lobby.

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Sight description based on wikipedia
Gertie the Duck

5) Gertie the Duck

Gertie the Duck is a world famous mallard and an icon of Milwaukee history. The story of her heroic efforts to hatch six ducklings became an inspiration for many Americans near the end of World War II. Gertie's story unfolded as a daily serial in the local newspaper for 37 days, captivating the residents of Milwaukee, the state and eventually the country.

Gertie the Duck, a 4-foot bronze sculpture of the mallard, was created by sculptor Gwendolyn Gillen and installed in September 1997 on the northwest side of the Wisconsin Ave. bridge over the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee. The original cost of the sculpture was $15,000 and it was given to the city from the Eppstein Uhen Architects firm. The sculpture can be found along the Milwaukee Riverwalk as part of the art displays called RiverSculpture!. Nicholas P. Georgiady and Louis G. Romano, two Milwaukee-area teachers, wrote the children's book "Gertie the Duck" in 1959. The book was reissued in 1988 after selling more than 800,000 copies and translated into six languages.

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100 East Wisconsin

6) 100 East Wisconsin

The Faison Building, or 100 East Wisconsin, is a skyscraper located in downtown Milwaukee. Erected in 1989 on the site of the old Pabst Building, its design is reflective of the authentic German architecture which has been preserved in downtown Milwaukee.

After failing to develop a high-rise called River Place in the early 1980s, the owners of the property at 100 East Wisconsin sold the property to Charlotte developer Faison Associates in December 1987. Following the purchase, in January 1987 Faison released renderings of the tower designed by the Charlotte architecture firm of Clark, Tribble, Harris & Li. The tower was to rise as the second tallest building in the city, behind the U.S. Bank Center, contain 430,000 square feet of office space and 410 parking spaces. Construction of the concrete framed structure began construction in mid-1987 with occupancy occurring in April 1989. Designed by Clark, Tribble, Harris & Li, the tower features a rectangular footprint and is topped with a crown that similar to that of the former Pabst Building and the Milwaukee City Hall. Additionally, the arches at the base were designed also to pay homage to those at the base of the Pabst Building of the Flemish Renaissance style.

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Mitchell Building

7) Mitchell Building

The Mitchell Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The building was constructed by U.S. Representative Alexander Mitchell. It would go on to house a bank. The property is presumed to have once been the site of the residence of Solomon Juneau. Juneau helped to found Milwaukee and served as its first mayor. The Mitchell Building is adjacent to the Mackie Building, which was also built by Mitchell, designed by E. Townsend Mix and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Milwaukee Public Market

8) Milwaukee Public Market

Milwaukee Public Market is an indoor market which provides a great selection of products and items, from genuine and ethnic objects, to fresh seafood, vegetables, fruit and spices. It is located in the Historic Third Ward district. The market organizes master cooking classes in the Madame Kuony Demonstration Kitchen. The market's operating hours are Monday through Friday, 10 am to 8 pm; Saturday, 8 am to 8 pm; and Sunday, 9 am to 6 pm.
The Historic Third Ward

9) The Historic Third Ward (must see)

The Historic Third Ward is a historic warehouse district located in downtown Milwaukee, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the Third Ward is home to over 450 businesses and maintains a strong position within the retail and professional service community in Milwaukee as a showcase of a mixed-use district. The neighborhood's renaissance is anchored by many specialty shops, restaurants, art galleries and theatre groups, creative businesses and condos. It is home to the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD), and the Broadway Theatre Center.

During the early years of Milwaukee, the Third Ward was a relatively flat, swampy area. Irish immigrants were the early settlers of the area, and it became known as the "Bloody Third", a reputation developed for the colorful fistfights that broke out often. Italian immigrants replaced the Irish, and the they had moved to different areas in the city. The Italians were very prolific in the warehouse businesses, establishing Commission Row, a grouping of grocery commission houses.

Highway construction displaced the close-knit Italian Third Ward community in the 1960s. The trucking industry and suburb growth led to the decline of warehouse operations and industry. Ironically, Milwaukee's first architectural landmark was named in 1967, the Blessed Virgin of Pompei Catholic Church, the same year it was demolished for construction of the I-794 freeway. In 2000, the Historic Third Ward Association began co-sponsoring Milwaukee's premier art event, Gallery Night and Day, a quarterly event which attracts thousands of visitors to the neighborhood.

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Betty Brinn Children's Museum

10) Betty Brinn Children's Museum (must see)

Betty Brinn Children's Museum has the aim to develop children's skills and provide educational experiences. The museum features interactive exhibits and various educational resources. Betty Brinn Children's Museum is a non-profit museum that was established in 1995. The museum was named after a well-known business woman who gave much of her time and life to children from orphanages and helping underprivileged women.
Discovery World

11) Discovery World (must see)

Discovery World is a museum located at 500 N. Harbor Drive. When the museum moved to Milwaukee's lakefront in 2006, it changed its name to Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin. It formerly was located at 815 N. James Lovell Street.

The museum focuses on innovation and technology, as well as Great Lakes education and conservation. Its building is filled with interactive exhibits, theaters, the Reiman Family Aquarium and Wisconsin's official flagship, the Denis Sullivan, a fully functional sailing vessel modeled after a 19th-century Great Lakes schooner. The museum is operated by Discovery World, Ltd. which was formed after a merger with Pier Wisconsin, Ltd.

Discovery World was founded by Robert Powrie Harland Senior and was initially known as the Science, Economics and Technology Center, and plans for it appeared in the Milwaukee Journal in 1981. Articles mentioning Discovery World date back to 1986 in the Milwaukee Sentinel and suggest that the museum's early location was the Milwaukee Public library. Paul Krajniak was director of exhibit development at the time. This location was inside the Wisconsin Ave. entrance of the library but had its doors before the inner doors to the library area, allowing visitors to go to the museum without entering the library area or passing through the book scanners on the way out. The museum featured hands-on exhibits, computerized simulations, and science shows. Admission was $1.50 for adults and $1 for children.

Operation hours: Monday - Friday: 9 am - 4 pm; Saturday & Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm.

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The Milwaukee Art Museum

12) The Milwaukee Art Museum (must see)

The museum's history began in 1882 when the Milwaukee Museum of Fine Arts was founded. The museum dissolved six years later. In 1888, the Milwaukee Art Association was created by a group of German panorama artists and local businessmen; its first home was the Layton Art Gallery. In 1911, the Milwaukee Art Institute, another building constructed to hold other exhibitions and collections, was completed. 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 a three-story building underneath the Eero Saarinen-designed Milwaukee County War Memorial.

The museum is home to over 25,000 works of art. Its permanent holdings contain an important collection of Old Masters and 19th-century and 20th-century artwork, as well as some of the nation's best collections of German Expressionism, folk and Haitian art, American decorative arts, and post-1960 American art.

The Milwaukee Art Museum recently gained international recognition with the construction of the white concrete Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Santiago Calatrava, which opened on May 4, 2001. The Quadracci Pavilion was prominently featured in the 2011 blockbuster film Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Operation hours: daily from: 10 am – 5 pm; Thursday till 8 pm.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
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Milwaukee County War Memorial Center

13) Milwaukee County War Memorial Center

The Milwaukee County War Memorial is situated on Lake Michigan. It is a memorial building to the victims of WWII, and it was designed by Eero Saarinen. The memorial was established in 1957 on Veterans' Day. A mosaic visible on the building's facade was added in 1959. Milwaukee County War Memorial Center organizes community events for veterans and provides different kinds of services.

Walking Tours in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Create Your Own Walk in Milwaukee

Create Your Own Walk in Milwaukee

Creating your own self-guided walk in Milwaukee is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Milwaukee Museums Walking Tour

Milwaukee Museums Walking Tour

Milwaukee is home to some of the greatest museums in America. Here you will be able to visit the city's famous art museum and the Harley Davidson Museum. The exhibits are diverse and there are many interesting things to see and experience. Take this tour to have an exciting time at the Milwaukee museums.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.7 Km or 4.8 Miles
Religious Tour in Milwaukee

Religious Tour in Milwaukee

Milwaukee boasts a number of beautiful historic churches, the majority of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Generally the city's religious make-up is diverse, from Catholic to Jesuit, though there are a number of Catholic churches and cathedrals. Take this walking tour to admire the religious masterpieces of Milwaukee.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Monuments and Statues Tour in Milwaukee

Monuments and Statues Tour in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is home to a variety of statues and monuments of different grades of importance, from entertaining ones to memorials commemorating war and its victims. There are also very unusual statues such as a monument to a duck and its ducklings. Take this walking tour to explore Milwaukee's monuments and statues.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Architecture Walk in Milwaukee

Architecture Walk in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is home to buildings with impressive beauty and rare architectural styles. Many buildings were designed in the German style and others in French. There are some grand skyscrapers in Milwaukee's downtown that are a must-see for any tourist. Take this walking tour to admire the architectural gems of Milwaukee.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles