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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Lauren Sigfusson

On one of the busiest intersections of Milwaukee's east side, sits a tiny food stand on the corner of a parking lot. The sign simply reads "The Drive-Thru."

A curious listener reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region — in hopes of learning more.

north-point-water-tower-dragon-milwaukee
Courtesy Terese Agnew

It was like something out of a fairy tale. One day in the fall of 1985, a green and gold dragon appeared on Milwaukee’s East Side.

It was a 30-foot-long, 350-pound sculpture perched on the gothic-looking North Point Water Tower, where North Avenue meets the lake bluff. The dragon’s teeth were bared, and its claws and tail curled around a ledge.  

Longtime Milwaukeeans Cookie Anderson and Gretchen Farrar-Foley remember the dragon.

Zoe Smith Munson

One of Milwaukee's favorite treats is the cruller doughnut — or you may know it as a kruller or crawler, but we'll get into that in a bit. After getting a couple of questions from community members about the Milwaukee doughnut staple, we decided to dig into the history of crullers and explore a bakery known for them.

First, a bit of history on doughnuts in general. Food historian Kyle Cherek says doughnuts can be traced back to biblical times.

Mitch Teich

Our Bubbler Talk question this week is one after my own heart. Tim Brever in Oak Creek wrote to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region: 

Can you provide more context behind the typewriter being invented in Milwaukee?

Tim doesn’t know it but an Olivetti Studio 44 resides in my office. That was the portable typewriter favored by Tennessee Williams. But I digress.

LaToya Dennis

Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region — gets a lot of questions about street numbering and street names. Not too long ago, Mike Zabel submitted a question about Lovers Lane Road on Milwaukee’s far northwest side.

I was wondering why the north part of Highway 100 is called Lovers Lane?

City of Milwaukee

If you’re familiar with downtown Milwaukee, you probably know the Historic Third Ward — the neighborhood with shopping, dining and theaters. It sits just south of Interstate 794. It was precisely the Third Ward that got a community member thinking:

When did Milwaukee change from wards to districts? And why?  

Emily Files

You may have heard of one of the world's fastest-growing refugee crises: the Rohingya exodus out of Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country also known as Burma.

After long waits in countries like Malaysia or Bangladesh, a tiny percentage of the world’s Burmese refugees end up right here in Milwaukee. In fact, they are the top arriving refugee group to Wisconsin.

lincoln-memorial-drive-milwaukee-house-giraffe
Susan Bence

Have you ever had a question that just won't go away? Milwaukee-native Ross Kuesel has been dazzled by a Milwaukee home's looming presence his whole life. So, he reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region.

"What's the story behind the house built into the bluff next to the Villa Terrace Art Museum? From Lincoln Memorial Drive it looks 10 stories tall!"

Courtesy of Gilbane Building Company and AECOM

Milwaukee City Hall was completed in 1895. But if you've seen the building over the years, it may seem like it's been under constant construction. So, let's look at the work that's been done on City Hall and what's still in store.

That's what Kim Marggraf wants to know, so she reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series where you ask, we investigate and together we unveil the answers:

"Why has City Hall been under some form of construction or reconstruction, for what seems like decades?"

Teran Powell

When Milwaukeeans hear the name Solomon Juneau it likely rings a few bells. He was a founding father of Milwaukee and the city's first mayor. However, Juneau’s name also belongs to a tugboat docked year-round near the Michigan Street bridge downtown.

This week’s Bubbler Talk — our series that answers your questions about Milwaukee and the region — takes a peek into the history of The Solomon Juneau. Peter from Wauwatosa wants to know:

funny-sign-milwaukee-poblocki-paving-pun
Audrey Nowakowski

For this week’s Bubbler Talk — our series where you ask, we investigate and together we unveil the answers — we’re waiting for a sign, or rather reading signs.

Question asker Emily Johnson wants to know:

Who writes the incredibly hilarious and cheesy asphalt and tar-related puns on the Poblocki Paving signs on I-94?

chalabala / Fotolia

Why isn’t there a high-speed rail line connecting Milwaukee with other cities in Wisconsin and the region? This question has been on the minds of many in the area for decades, including one person who wrote to Bubbler Talk — our series that allows you to ask questions about Milwaukee.

The answer is complicated, but simply put: there was a plan for a higher-speed rail line, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was against it.

Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library

Wisconsin boasts one of the largest German populations in the country, and in the early 1900s, Milwaukee was considered one of the most German cities in America. "Milwaukee was known as the Midwest Munich," Steve Schaffer says. "It was, ya know, a German town."

This week’s Bubbler Talk question comes from listener Bruce Campbell, who wanted to know: How were Germans treated in Milwaukee during World War II?

Maayan Silver

If you’ve driven northbound on Interstate 43 toward Milwaukee’s downtown, chances are, you’ve noticed a gigantic mural. That colorful mural has caught the eye of Tim Brever, of Greendale, since he was a kid. He wanted to learn more about it, so he reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series where you ask, we investigate and together we unveil the answers:

What is the story behind the mural located on the side of a building, coming north into Milwaukee featuring an eagle with a rainbow behind it?

green-bay-packers-tailgating-fans-wisconsin
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of people in the United States enjoy tailgate parties before football and baseball games. In fact, the parties themselves have become an event, helping to draw people to stadiums, even when teams aren't having the greatest season.

church-festival-Milwaukee
Lauren Sigfusson

For this week’s Bubbler Talk — our series where you ask, we investigate and together we unveil the answers — we look at church festivals in Milwaukee and why we love them. This all started with a question from curious community member Miguel Rivera.

“Are church festivals (mostly Catholic) only popular in Milwaukee? People from out of state always seem surprised by them.”

bookstore-milwaukee-airport-renaissance-books
Maayan Silver

Walk into the public area of Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport, and you’ll see traditional airport sights: monitors for departures, places to grab coffee and food. But you’ll also see a 2,600-square-foot used bookstore, Renaissance Books.

The latest Bubbler Talk — our series that allows you to ask WUWM questions about Milwaukee —  takes us to the bookshop. Question asker Susie Hoglund, of Shorewood:

northridge-mall-miwlaukee-what-happening
Chuck Quirmbach

Northridge Mall was one of several large suburban malls built in the 1960s and '70s. It was at the far northwestern edge of Milwaukee — at 76th Street and Brown Deer Road. But the glory days didn’t last. The mall closed 15 years ago and has gone into extended limbo. 

Most of the buildings remain, but they're empty. It's a big-box ghost town with a chain link fence around it.

Beach Trash: Where Lake Michigan’s Litter Originates

Aug 17, 2018
Gabrielle Powell

Almost every day since last June, Marla Schmidt has walked along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Bay View. But she’s not lounging around enjoying the beach — she’s picking up trash. 

She regularly gathers plastic and other garbage that washes up on the shore, filling her bucket on nearly every trip. Marla documents her finds on her Facebook page, Catch of the Day MKE. With so much trash on the beach, Marla wanted to find out:

The Milwaukee Fire Department’s Unknown Heroes

Aug 10, 2018
Lauren Sigfusson

A fire truck making its way to a scene, sirens blazing, is a common sight in cities and towns across America. But within the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD), there's a support staff responsible for maintaining all the equipment firefighters depend on.

For this week's Bubbler Talk — our series that allows you to ask WUWM questions about Milwaukee —questioner Jay Blanchett wanted to know about a special kind of fire truck:

Miller Park Roof Rules: It's More Than The Weather

Aug 3, 2018
miller-park-milwaukee-open-roof-brewers
Tom Lynn/Stringer, Getty Images

The Milwaukee Brewers' Miller Park has a roof hotline – 414-902-4636 – that tells callers the weather and if the roof is open or closed. That way fans know what to expect when they head to a ball game. But how do the Brewers decide whether the Miller Park roof is open or closed at game time?

That’s a question Bubbler Talk received from listener Lila Johnson.

Lauren Sigfusson

For this week’s Bubbler Talk, we tackled a request from Kathy Yanoff of Shorewood to provide an update on the Brady Street Beasts. The beasts Kathy refers to are actually part of a sculpture featuring fanciful creatures on Milwaukee’s east side, called Cavorting Critters. 

It’s tucked away near the corner of Brady and Holton streets north of downtown, and you can get the best view while walking or driving over the Holton Street Bridge.

civil-rights-eagles-club-milwaukee-protest-history
Courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

What was the Eagles Ballroom before it became The Rave? That’s a question we’ve heard a lot at Bubbler Talk and it turns out there are a lot of answers.

The Eagles Club on Wisconsin Avenue was first completed in 1926. It was the headquarters for the Milwaukee Aerie of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles – a national social organization with a rather illustrious history.

koi-fish-paintings-milwaukee-black-cat-alley
Lauren Sigfusson

If you do much walking through Milwaukee neighborhoods, say in the Historic Third Ward or Bay View, you’ve probably stumbled across vibrant schools of fish painted on the sidewalks.

They're koi, the large decorative fish some people keep in outdoor ponds.

I spotted a few of the paintings on the East Side, where several clusters of koi are depicted in orange, black and white patterns. 

Maayan Silver

This story originally aired September 8, 2017. According to TMJ4, At Random closed on May 19, 2018 and is up for sale.

Pink Squirrel, Grasshopper, Brandy Alexander, Banshee... Is there something uniquely Milwaukee about ice cream cocktails? 

Audrey Nowakowski

If you live, work, or drive through downtown Milwaukee, chances are your route has been interrupted by the sound of a dinging bell and the bellow of a horn as a bridge prepares to allow a boat pass.

After all, Milwaukee is home to 21 movable bridges, which cross the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic, and Milwaukee rivers.

Courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Summer is the favorite time of year for most beach-goers. But Milwaukee once was home to a unique fellow who tanned year-round at the lakefront. Our Bubbler Talk questioner wanted to know: Who was that guy?

Many people who lived in Milwaukee before 2000, like Cynthia Hoffman, know the answer. The man was the late Dick Bacon.

Susan Bence

A Bubbler Talk listener was curious about Milwaukee's breakwater, wondering where the rocks came from, and how they ended up standing in the middle of the harbor. WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence explored the subject for this week's segment.

To kick off our sixth season of Bubbler Talk, Susan turned to Larry Sullivan, chief engineer with Milwaukee’s Port Authority. She asked him about the history of the breakwater structure.

Bonnie North

Raise your hand if this is how your typical Friday night goes: If you aren’t ill or out of town, you are probably somewhere like the North Shore American Legion Post 331 in Shorewood. You might be meeting friends after a long week at work. You’re probably there for a beer or an old fashioned (make mine a brandy sour, please). And, you are definitely there enjoying a fish fry.

Our beloved fish fry is what makes Friday nights extra special in Milwaukee – and around the entire state of Wisconsin.

The meal most likely consists of cabbage, rye bread, potato, and fish.

WUWM

Our latest Bubbler Talk report involves the large metal tower at the entrance to Estabrook Park, near the border of Milwaukee and Shorewood. The listener asked: "What is the giant ugly metal tower used for?"

He might be surprised to learn that the tower houses WUWM's antenna, along with that of WITI Channel 6, and a couple other radio stations.

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