Last week while on a whirlwind trip to the Midwest, my dog Petey and I ran into a string of stairways in Milwaukee that we were not expecting to find. We had stopped in Milwaukee to take pictures of buildings made out of Milwaukee “cream style” brick. In the late 19th century Milwaukee was known as the “Cream City” because of the prevalence of the brick.
After taking some photos, We wandered into a one-time industrial area a little northwest of downtown Milwaukee that is rapidly being converted into housing. Ironically, We parked our car across the street from an old cream style brick tavern undergoing renovation and started walking.
Right across the street from the tavern was a relatively new stairway at the intersection of Vine and Hubbard.
This is a nice example of a cream style brick tavern. At one time, there was always a tavern within walking distance in the Midwest.
This stairway is right across the street from the tavern and an extension of Vine Street.
After counting sixty steps on my way down, I turned around and noticed the series of quotes on the step risers.
Here’s a look at the stairway from the other side of the street.
We continued north and soon ran into this short 21-step stairway to a small plaza.
From the plaza, it was only ten more steps to an old railroad right-of-way that is now a walking and bike path.
I don’t know how far this path goes, but I did notice a great walkway under the viaduct and followed it.
The super structure of the viaduct even had a stairway in it. I figured we would get that stairway on our way back.
In the meantime, there were great views of new development along the banks of the Milwaukee River. Several years ago factories would have lined the riverbank.
Looking the other way, this old cream style factory building is now a small brewery. Several years ago Milwaukee was the home of Schlitz, Pabst, Miller and Blatz beers. Miller is the only one still in Milwaukee.
On the other side of the river, the area under the viaduct has been turned into a playground.
Also on the other side of the river, this cream style brick building is now a popular restaurant.
Finally at the very end of the viaduct, there were stairways on either side to take you to the top.
On top the viaduct had a nice protected walkway.
When we crossed back the river, we took the 110-step stairway in the super structure back down to the bottom.
When we got to the bottom, we continued walking.
We soon reached this unusual stairway at Booth street.
Here’s the final flight of stairs leading to the top. The stairway has a total of 116 steps.
At the top of the stairs was this very interesting story on the naming of the street.
And looking back towards the viaduct was a nice view of Milwaukee.
And just up the street is was red brick example of the Midwest’s tavern culture.
But what’s most interesting about this tavern is the medallion at the top. it’s a stylized “M” for Miller Brewing. Prior to prohibition it was common for breweries to have brewery owned taverns called “tied-houses”. That is a tavern tied to a brewery.
From there it was a short walk back to our car. More important than walking stairs, is getting out of the car and walking around. There is so much to find no matter where you are. But our Milwaukee trip was not done. Later in the day we found another stairway on the west side of Milwaukee in the super structure of the 35th Street Viaduct not too far from where the Milwaukee Brewers play at Miller park.
It’s 113 steps to the top.
Once on top, you can catch a bus to continue your journey.
This guy decided it was easier to carry his bike up to the bus stop than to continue riding.