As summer approaches and we emerge from our winter hibernating, we Milwaukeeans typically start gearing up for our countless festivals and events that help give our city its unique character. That is, until this summer. Nearly all of our usual events are cancelled or somehow transforming into a virtual gathering of some kind. Even Summerfest has been rescheduled for September!
With this dearth of usual activities to enjoy, I thought this would be a great opportunity to reflect on what makes our city great and unique. As part of this, I conducted an extremely scientific poll of non-Milwaukee residents to get a sense of what stands out about our city to outsiders. Many of the responses were the classic Milwaukee things you would expect: Harleys, beer (particularly Schlitz), the lakefront, our myriad of summertime festivals, Laverne and Shirley/the Fonz, cream colored brick buildings, late night wurst purchased from a street vendor. Also featured prominently in the answers were some of our most popular attractions, including the art museum, the zoo, the Mitchell Park Domes, the Brewers and Bucks.
Some even mentioned the renowned Milwaukee historian, Alice Cooper and his memorable cameo as he educated us all about our city’s past. Others also picked up on the theme of Milwaukee’s roots, highlighting our traditions of heavy industry, robust unions, and “true blue Americans” coupled with waves of vibrant immigrant communities moving in and making their mark on the culture of the city (beer gardens, anyone?). Some discussed a slightly more personal connection, describing a walkable big city with a small town feel where you go to visit family during the holidays.
Finally, one respondent summed up all their thoughts about Milwaukee that I certainly have no argument with: “One of the great American cities.” I could not have said it better myself.
Stay safe, Milwaukee.
P.S. Please comment below with what comes to mind when you think of Milwaukee!