Here’s a letter I sent out last February.

The “Historic, Cultural, Ecological, Architectural, Industrial Destinations” might include some of the following:

  • Historic Concordia B&Bs(launching point?)

  • 6th & National Neighborhood(to include UCC art gallery, Walkers Point Center for Arts, funky Mexican restaurants, artist/artisans studios, etc.)

  • Brewer’s Hill Neighborhood(to include architectural tour, Bronzeville History Tour, Black Holocaust Museum, soul food restaurant, Bean Head Cafe, etc.)

  • Bay View Neighborhood (visit to Groppi’s market, Hyde House Artist Studios, Jones Island Boat Tour(see Urban Anthropology tour below), site of Bay View Massacre, KK shops & restaurants, a slide over to the Basilica, etc.)

  • Environmental Consortium Office & Tours (of our great parks, rivers, projects in planning, reclaiming of Menomonee Valley, etc.)

  • Milwaukee Preservation Alliances Endangered Architectural Beauties (besides tours of safe architectural treasures, the list of threatened ones)

  • Neighborhoods Slated to Destruction by Freeway Grab (this could be organized by CASH or other agencies of appropriate transportation, e.g. Bicycle Federation, Walking Groups, Light Rail Groups, etc.)

  • Riverwest Neighborhood(see for evidence of this old neighborhood in “self-managed” renewal

  • Urban Anthropology’s “Milwaukee Ethnic & Culture Group Tours”

  • Frank Zeidler’s Top 20 Destinations for Social Democratic Tours

We are developing a group of very educated, activist, tour guides to show the “backstreet” drama of Milwaukee over the past 100 years. Not many people know that Milwaukee’s Socialist Party produced mayors from the 1910s through the 1950s. The Milwaukee labor movement led strikes with national significance during the 1930s and 1940s. The Milwaukee civil rights and anti-war movement yielded “actions,” e.g. Open Housing Marches, draft-file burnings, that captured headlines across the land.
In addition to Milwaukee’s standard tourist fare of great museums, theatres, restaurants, and monumental architecture, we will connect you with tour guides who can take you to:

The Site of the Bay View Massacre

This happened on May 5th, at the Bay View rolling mills, the day after the Haymarket Square in Chicago. Fifteen hundred Polish workers marched from St. Stanislaus Church down Mitchell St., to Kinnickinnic, then Bay Street, behind a red, white, and blue banner calling for “Eight Hours” of daily work. Among the soldiers to meet the crowd were the Kosciuszko Guard, Polish themselves, in full regalia, and theSheridan Guard, an largely Irish militia. Governor Jeremiah Rusk gave the orders to fire on the unarmed crowd, and at least 5 were killed, including a 13 year old boy and a retiree in his Bay St. backyard. There is a perfect neighborhood grocery store a few blocks from this site, i.e. Groppis, the homestead from which Father James Groppi, one of the major leaders of Milwaukee’s Open Housing Marches in 1966–67, was raised. Also nearby is Kinnickinnic Ave., a funky, old city main street shopping jewel in renaissance.

Milwaukee Socialist Party Hallowed Sites

From the election of patternmaker Emil Seidel as Socialist Mayor in 1910, to Daniel Hoan’s 24 year mayoral tenure(1916–1960), and Frank Zeidler’s regime from 1948 to 1960, the Milwaukee Socialist Party was a major political force in Milwaukee. Tour stops could include one of the homes of Victor Berger , the “pragmatic idealist who became the Moses of Milwaukee Socialism,” as well as the man who Eugene Debs called “a providential instrument [who] dlivered the first impassioned message of Socialism I had ever heard.”(see John Gurda, “The Making of Milwaukee”). A visit could be taken to Daniel Hoan’s house on Kilbourne, a mayor “Time Magazine” said made Milwaukee “perhaps the best-governed city in the U.S.”

Other stops could include: lunch at Valents, a pub/restaurant where striking UAW American Auto Workers rested during great stikes in the 1930; City Tavern at 1011 N. 3rd, the Office of the Socialist Party; Chris Holz’s Barber Shop on Lisbon Ave., where the notion of socialized medicine was first debated; Historic Turners Hall, a major gathering place for Milwaukee’s Socialists and today an historic building in renaissance; Convent Hill on Jefferson and Ogden, the first public housing for the city’s elderly built in 1958; and the Emil Seidl Playground(now called Auer Playground), the city’s first formal playground for children; and a variety of sites pertaining to major strikes, e.g. Allis-Chalmers 1941, 1946–47, in the making. Mayor Frank Zeidler has given me 25 more destination places regarding Milwaukee labor and socialist history. We hope to enlist Public School students to study these sites and create “culture products” for our enlightenment and enjoyment down the line.

If we could attract a certain “critical mass” of out-of-town tourists, their presence on the streets of our historic neighborhoods would attract visitors and investment from Milwaukee’s region itself. Historic Milwaukee’s marvelous public space inheritance of architecture, parks,
sidewalks, rivers, and more would slowly reclaim the affection of the people.

It is possible to begin attracting “thoughtful tourists” by sending individual e-mails and making phone calls to professors and teachers of humanities in Chicago, Ann Arbor(the ferry would help with this market), and Madison.

It is possible to attract very competent tour guides from among the retiring or semi-retired boomer professionals who are committed to the old city(see letter to some below).

It is possible to attract competent student interns to promote and develop this project in all of its ramifications from the ground up.

It is possible that some of these interns could create careers in the field of “Enlightened Tourism” and Historic Milwaukee Development.
Urban Anthropology Draft Tour Concepts

Urban Anthropology ‘Backstreet’ Tours of Milwaukee Ethnic & Culture Groups
Urban Anthropology Inc. is a non-profit organization of cultural
anthropologists and other community activists. We study the various (and
exciting) cultural groups in Milwaukee, and have 11 videos in production
that summarize these studies (most of which have or will be broadcast on
local PBS). Beginning this May we are also planning tours of the
neighborhoods of some of these cultural groups. Our tours will include lunch
at a restaurant of the cultural group, our video on the cultural group, and
sites of interest of that cultural group. One example of a tour is the
Participants will meet one of our anthropologists on KK near the Lake. She
will walk them over to the charming Barnacle Bud’s fishing hut restaurant
where the KK River meets Lake Michigan. On the way she will give them
information on the prehistory and early history of the Island. The
restaurant looks directly upon Jones Island and patrons can sit out on the
deck. Here they will order food and watch the JI video. A fishing boat will
then pick up the participants and some Kashubian descendants and take them
on a water tour around the Island. Here the fishing boat captain will tell
them current information about the Island and the Kashubes will inform them
of issues in current Kashubian culture and social networks. Participants
will leave with a packet of information about the Kashubes, recipes on
Kashubian seafood, and Kashubian genealogy charts. Some of the proceeds
the tours will go to support the annual Kashubian picnic.
Two of our other tours beginning this May will be on African American
culture and the Old South Side (Latinos and Poles). We will later add tours
of the Hmong community, Latinos generally, Germans, Urban Indians, French,
Irish, and Yankees. We have brochures on the tours and they are known by the
general title of “cultural back street tours.” Our tours are unlike those
run by other groups because they include the meals, transportation (where it
is needed), one or more anthropologists who actually studied the group as
guides, a full packet of information on each group (including indigenous
recipes), the original video, and little-known information that emerged from
our studies. (John Gurda is also a member of our team, and may conduct some
tours as well.)
Each tour will run for approximately two hours every other week (most only
during the warm six months). These are extremely well-organized and we have
been working on them for over two years, with all insurance, contracts, and
other protocols in place.
Our hope is that we can receive your helpful input into our tours and that
we can find a way for you to include these in the information you give out
about Milwaukee. I am not sure what your processes are.
We have been meeting with many organizations to receive their input and
promote the tours, including the local universities, the Mayor, GMC, Spirit
of Milwaukee, Young Professionals, senior centers, and HR departments. We
will also meet with concierges at the hotels.”
Tour #A: Black history in Milwaukee
o Tour America’s Black Holocaust Museum and learn how most African
came to the United States.
o Learn about archaeological records of the earliest WI freedman community.
o Watch original documentary on African Americans in Milwaukee and learn
about the once thriving community of Bronzeville.
o Enjoy a guided tour through beautiful Halyard Park on site of old
o Enjoy a lunch of soul food.
Tour meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday 11am-1:30 at corner of 4th Street and
North Avenue (rain or shine).
Regular adult price: $30 (cash or check).
Tour #B: African American cultural practices and contributions
o Visit black radio station and sites of black resistance
o Experience African drumming and chants and African American dance.
o Watch original documentary on African American culture and contributions.
o Visit sites of major black contributions.
o Enjoy elegant tea party (and lunch) catered by African American hosts.

Tour meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday, 2:30–5pm at corner of street and
street, year around (rain or shine). Wear clothing appropriate for free
Regular adult price: $30 (cash or check).
If our tours draw enough participation during our first year, Urban
Anthropology Inc. has several planned for the following year. One is called
“The Varieties of Latino Experience” and will highlight the contributions of
Latinos of Mexican American and Caribbean descent to our city (we are
finishing our documentary on this now). Another is a series of “Big Little
Populations.” The tours would be based on our studies (and videos) of small
ethnic populations in the area that have made big impacts. The first of
this series is a French/Indian tour. We will show our documentary on Urban
Indians while eating at a French lakeside restaurant, then tour the lakeside
sites of interest to both populations, while bringing in indigenous people
to discuss points of interest. Examples of the sites of interest would be
the history of the lakeside Coast Guard station in Native practices, the
French/Indian trading posts on Jones Island, the lasting contributions of
Solomon Juneau, and more recent cultural developments, such as the
casinos/Bastille Days and a variety of relatively unknown contributions.
Ongoing Destinations for Social Democrats of Great Midwest

Last edited by Godsil.   Page last modified on November 27, 2004

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