Bubbler Talk

What’s got you scratching your head about Milwaukee and the region? Bubbler Talk is a series that puts your curiosity front and center.

How it works: You ask, we investigate, and together we unveil the answers.

Ask away: What have you always wanted to know about the Milwaukee area's people, places, or culture that you want WUWM to explore?

Participate in the process and submit your question below.
 

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seven-mile-road-wisconsin-racine-bubbler-talk-milwaukee
Lauren Sigfusson

There are three types of people in this world: Those who notice nothing. Those who notice but don’t care to question. And then there are those who ask why. David Wagner is the last one.

David reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series where you ask, we investigate, and together we unveil the answers — to learn about a road he often passes.

What is Seven Mile Road 7 miles from?

Audrey Nowakowski

Milwaukee is known for a lot of architectural gems — cream city brick, the Calatrava, Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes, and on a smaller scale, its bungalows. This style of house can be found all over the Milwaukee area and typically have one, or more, classic stained glass window incorporated into its design.

Katie Meissner

On Dec. 25, Santa Claus will have shimmied down many chimneys and left presents under the tree. But on Dec. 6, some families celebrate another holiday, a tease of sorts until that day comes: St Nick's Day!

Depending on where you are in the world, St. Nick has many names, but the story is the same. In the U.S., he's celebrated in places with German or Dutch influence — like right here in Milwaukee.

So, who's St. Nick and where did this holiday come from? Dawn Omernik-Nimmer reached out to Bubbler Talk to find out.

Image courtesy of Matt Zumbo

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Feb. 16, 2018.  

Pikosso, Chicken a la Koss, Rebel with a Koss. If you’re familiar with the iconic billboard for Koss Corporation along I-43 in Milwaukee, you may have seen one of these ads — or even have a favorite design or catchphrase of your own.

Community member Michael Croatt wanted to know more, so he reached out to Bubbler Talk:

CJ Foeckler

Do you love going to concerts? Or seek out live albums from your favorite bands or artists?

If you're anything like Zack Biernat, you really dig live shows.

"I love listening to live music and I love going to see shows. I found there's a lot of live albums available now on Spotify or YouTube, so I've been listening to a lot of my favorite bands, and I always enjoy that," he explains. 

But Zack also wants to know what live albums were recorded in Milwaukee. So, he reached out to Bubbler Talk:

Courtesy of Jim Mitchell

The 1960s and '70s were a time of great change in the United States. The counterculture was well underway.

Amidst all of this, Jon Cervantes was a 15-year-old kid living in West Allis, Wis. Going to record shops and checking out "comix" was what he did religiously. But these weren't your typical family-friendly comics. These comics addressed daring themes like sex, drugs, and the Vietnam War. Which was exactly what Jon and others like him wanted.

west-allis-wisconsin-water-tower
Lauren Sigfusson

Have you ever wondered about the stories behind the names of some buildings and streets and even cities you encounter?

A lot of you have written to Bubbler Talk asking about the origins of West Allis. Whether there was ever an east, north or south Allis. And why the city is called West Allis if there is, in fact, no Allis to be west of.

Susan Bence

Imagine you’re rushing to catch a flight at Milwaukee County's General Mitchell International Airport — maybe for business or a long-anticipated vacation. What's on your mind? If you’re Dan Schley, you’re wondering: What’s the story behind the floor mosaics?

"It caught my attention and I thought, 'I’m just going to ask this,' " the Bubbler Talk question asker says.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

How far would you go to get your favorite band to come play in your town? For Milwaukee radio personality Tim 'The Rock 'N' Roll Animal' it involved going out on a ledge.  

That ledge-endary sit sticks out in Mike Crowley's mind, so he wrote to Bubbler Talk to learn more about it:

"How long did WQFM DJ Tim 'The Rock 'N' Roll Animal' camp outside of the studio in order to entice The Who to play Milwaukee in 1982?"

Mike, the answer is: two weeks. Now let's tell the story.

Chuck Quirmbach

Cold War fallout shelters are still around the Milwaukee area. You can still find some if you look for the signs, but many have fallen out of use.

Whitefish Bay resident Tom Fehring reached out to Bubbler Talk to learn more about these shelters:

“There are at least three buildings in my neighborhood that host fallout shelters. Do these shelters have a functional purpose today?”

Is Milwaukee's Coffee Scene Unique?

Aug 23, 2019
Cassidy Schrader

If you take a look around Milwaukee and its surrounding communities, you may have noticed that coffee shops are kind of the new corner stores. From international chains like Starbucks to local roasters like Stone Creek, coffee seems to have taken over the city.

But this didn't happen overnight. In fact, Milwaukee's coffee scene has been growing for decades to become the powerhouse it is today. But how did this happen? And is Milwaukee's coffee scene unique compared to similar-sized cities?

How Did Milwaukee's Drinking Culture Start?

Aug 16, 2019
Alesandra Tejeda

For some people, it's not an evening out in Milwaukee without a cocktail, a beer, or a glass of wine. But why does so much local social life revolve around alcohol?

The city's known across the country for its drinking culture.

"Milwaukee is the second-highest city in America per capita for bars. There's one bar per 1,800 people in Milwaukee. In America, there's one bar per 4,800 people. This is a bar town!" said the host of the Paramount Network show "Bar Rescue" when visiting Milwaukee.

Where Are Milwaukee's Pigeons?

Aug 9, 2019
Dan Mullen / Flickr

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on April 21, 2017.   

Phil Lapayowker has noticed a distinct lack of what some people unkindly call "flying rats" in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin Historical Society

It might be difficult to picture City Hall in downtown Milwaukee more than 100 years ago. A lot has changed. But prepare yourself for a glimpse into the past.

Before we step back in time, meet August Behrens. While researching some cool architecture in Milwaukee, he came across an old postcard that piqued his interest. So, he reached out to Bubbler Talk:

What happened to City Hall Square and fountain that used to be there? In an old postcard from the early 20th century, it looks like Munich!

Alesandra Tejeda

Earlier this summer about a thousand Shorewood residents tried to protect a historic home from being torn down. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele bought the Eschweiler mansion last year and maintained that it had to be razed because of poor conditions.

During the same time this was making headlines, a listener wrote in to Bubbler Talk with this question:

How does a historic building get that designation? And when the buildings are privately owned, what can we do to protect them?

Alesandra Tejeda

On the corner of Cambridge Avenue and Hampshire Avenue on Milwaukee’s east side, there’s a home that stands out.

It’s not a bungalow or a duplex or a high-rise. It’s a boat. It looks like a 70-foot-long yacht, perched on a grassy lawn, facing the Milwaukee River. If that isn’t enough to catch your eye, there is a lighthouse replica on the front lawn.

If you’ve ever driven down South 27 Street in Franklin, Wis., you know there are a lot of motels there. El Rancho, the Knotty Pine, Sunrise, Modern 41, Embassy, the Oakwood and the list goes on and on. My count: 10 within a 2-mile drive, which takes about three minutes.

Over the years, lots of people have written to Bubbler Talk asking about those motels. The most recent question came from a guy named Don Gloo:

Courtesy of Milwaukee Pubilc Library

Like many cities, Milwaukee once was home to a number of "movie palaces" — places where the surroundings were nearly as much of a draw as what was playing on the screen.

These were single-screen, sometimes luxurious venues built in the early days of cinema well before the proliferation of TVs and suburban multiplexes. They had special features like air conditioning and newsreels.

Bubbler Talk received a question asking what happened to one of those theaters: the Grand, previously known as the Warner.

Mitch Teich

Editor's note: This piece was originally published April 6, 2018.

When was the last time you went to the Milwaukee County Zoo? Did you see the polar bear? You didn't feed it anything, right? Well, Bubbler Talk question-asker Jessica Ols has been wondering about her trips to the zoo in the early 1980s:

Angelina Mosher Salazar

Bay View resident Stacy Dent often drives over the Hoan Bridge, looks down at the Lake Express ferry, and wonders... who rides that?

"I’m very curious who these people are," she says. "Are they going for the day? Or are they moving? Or do they work across the lake?"

So, Stacy reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region.

Chuck Cooper Foundation

When you think of the NBA in Milwaukee - of course, the Milwaukee Bucks come to mind. We’ve got Giannis, a fiesty team, and a new arena. But what was pro basketball like here before the Bucks?

Aisha Turner

 Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Nov. 3, 2017.

Imagine you're driving into downtown Milwaukee over the Hoan Bridge. Lake Michigan glistens to the east, the city's skyline rises before you, and then WHAM! A smell infiltrates your car and overwhelms your senses.

If you've experienced it, you know what we are referring to. If you haven't, some people describe the smell like this:

Audrey Nowakowski

Editor's note: This post was originally published Feb. 17, 2017.

For this week’s Bubbler Talk, we visit the Pryor Avenue Iron Well in Bay View. Listener Lisa asked: What can you tell me about the Bay View Spring on Pryor Avenue? Why and how did it start? It's still running; do people still drink from it?

Teran Powell

Whether you’re driving or walking east on Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee, as you approach the lake bluff, you'll see a bright orange sculpture. It’s hard to miss.

It's made of steel beams that point in every direction, earning it the nickname the "sunburst sculpture."

Chuck Quirmbach

It's fitting that Fox Point resident Trish Mousseau reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region — with a question about bubblers.

No, her question wasn't about why Wisconsinites call bubblers, bubblers. (That's the very first question Bubbler Talk ever answered.)

milwaukee-lion-simba-library-museum
Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Museum

In the file of "truth is stranger than fiction," the Milwaukee downtown library was once home to a lion cub. While it seems fantastical, he lived there back when the library shared a building with the Milwaukee Public Museum.

And Heidi Havens heard about the big cat while working as a librarian elsewhere in the city. So, she wrote to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee’s people, places and culture — asking us to find out what happened to him.

Wisconsin Historical Society

The 1861 Milwaukee Bank Riot was one of those moments that people thought would never be forgotten. Now, there are few remaining articles and references to this flashpoint in city history.

But Hugh Swofford wrote to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region — to change that.

The riot was about much more than that single day of chaos on June 24, 1861. To tell the full story, let's go back a few decades to the presidency of Andrew Jackson.

Wikimedia Commons

The Washington Highlands neighborhood consists of 375 beautiful, large houses arrayed over 133 acres on the eastern edge of Wauwatosa, between 68th and 60th Streets. If you're not familiar with the Highlands, I think we can – with impunity – call it the "high rent district."

There's a common rumor about the neighborhood that Julia Griffith wants to end. She's the program director for Historic Milwaukee, which is planning a program around the area. 

Susan Bence

The practice of designating green space, especially for dogs to romp freely, have become more and more popular. But one dog park in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood has some questioning the safety of the ground where their dogs frolic.

What's under the grass at the Roverwest dog park in Riverwest? Some say it was a poisonous dumping ground. Are our dogs safe there?

Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library

Editor's note: This piece was originally published June 24, 2016. As thousands of delegates, reporters and other visitors prepare to descend on Milwaukee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, many might be intrigued by the city's interesting political history. The piece includes portions of an interview with Anita Zeidler, who has since passed away.

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