The “25 Facts” series features people, places, and stuff that make Milwaukee great. These articles are meant just for fun and we have nothing but love for everyone included. Brought to you by Great Lakes Distillery.
Not from around here? Well, welcome to Milwaukee! As you may already know, there are countless features of our 595,391-resident city that will make your visit a great one. Whether you are visiting for the Democratic National Convention, the Bead & Button Show, a Milwaukee Bucks game, or you’re just a big archaeology buff, you’re sure to find plenty about Milwaukee that you’ll find interesting. But, there’s also lots of Milwaukee that’s not that interesting.
If you’re new in town, you’re likely new to this article series, as well. With this series, we aim to explore the trivial-at-best information about the most beloved people, places, and things that make up Milwaukee. Under no circumstances will this information come in handy for you, but it’s something to read while your Lyft takes you to Shah Jee’s. Welcome to our city, and thank you for reading Milwaukee Record!
1. While we hope that you were able to book a hotel close to the event you’re attending, we know that busy dates will occasionally land visitors at hotels that are a little out of the way. At least you’re not at Hotel Rouen in Port-aux-Francais, the capital settlement of the Kerguelen Islands. That hotel, located on the French Southern and Antarctic Lands in the southern Indian Ocean, is the furthest hotel in the world from Downtown Milwaukee, at a little over 11,000 miles away. They have wild penguins there!
2a. The Milwaukee County Zoo also has penguins. The little buddies in the Taylor Family Humboldt Penguin Exhibit at the local zoo are, as you may have guessed, Humboldt penguins.
2b. Milwaukee’s Humboldt Park—a 70-acre gem in the popular Bay View neighborhood—opened in 1891. It’s named in honor of Prussian naturalist Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt, as are Humboldt penguins.
2c. Humboldt penguins have a max walking speed of around 2 mph, so it would take at least five hours for one of them to walk the 10 miles to Humboldt Park from the Zoo. Their swimming speed, however, maxes out around 30 mph, so if they ever build a waterway from the Zoo to Bay View, penguins can make that trip in a cool 20 minutes!
3. The Harley-Davidson Museum had its grand opening on July 12, 2008. That same day, Topher Grace (of Wisconsin-based That ’70s Show fame) turned 30 years old.
4. The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory—more commonly known as “The Domes”—opens at 9 a.m. every day of the year. Among the thousands of specimens on display at The Domes are a collection of plants from the island nation of Madagascar. These plants were installed in the Desert Dome during a special ceremony on September 8, 1984. On that date:
– Sid Caesar turned 62 years old
– Bernie Sanders turned 43
– Aimee Mann turned 24
– Neko Case and Milwaukee native Latrell Sprewell turned 14
– David Arquette and Martin Freeman turned 13
– Pink turned 5
– Jonathan Taylor Thomas turned 3
– Chumlee from Pawn Stars turned 2
– Patsy Cline would’ve turned 52 and Peter Sellers would’ve been 59, but they were dead at the time
– Wiz Khalifa and Dustin from “Stranger Things” wouldn’t be born for three and 18 years, respectively
5a. Humboldt Park—mentioned previously in the one about the penguins—opened in 1891, but was originally called South Park.
5b. South Park (the animated television program) began as an animated short called The Spirit of Christmas, which featured Santa Claus.
5c. Santa Claus, an international toy distributor of some note, is said to live at the North Pole.
5d. The North Pole has exactly zero penguins.
6. The Bronze Fonz statue of Happy Days‘ Arthur Fonzarelli on Milwaukee’s Riverwalk is 5 feet, 6 inches tall. As you might assume, Henry Winkler (who celebrates his 74th birthday on the day of this article’s publication) is also that height.
7. The bronze Bob Uecker statue outside of Miller Park is just over 7 feet tall, while the real Bob Uecker is just over 6 feet tall and contains little or no bronze.
8. Among the many incredible exhibits at Milwaukee’s Discovery World science and educational center is Les Paul’s House of Sound—an interactive celebration and exploration of the local innovator who helped shape popular music in dozens of different ways and also sold millions of records. We don’t know exactly how tall Les Paul was, but Gibson Les Paul Standard guitars have a scale length of 24.75 inches.
9. The Milwaukee Public Museum opened to the public on May 24, 1884. It is now home to over 4 billion specimens and is over 4 billion seconds old.
10. Mark Rothko’s Red, Green, Blue (1955)—on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum—is 81.5″ tall x 77.75″ wide.
12. “Try our Miller beer, W” is an anagram for “Miller Brewery Tour.” While you’re in town, be sure to check out Miller, Lakefront, and many other makers of wonderful Milwaukee beer. If you’re name isn’t W, you’re still encouraged to tour the breweries.
13. “A leaderless girl kitty” is an anagram for Great Lakes Distillery. There’s no reason anyone should know that. Go grab a drink at from the local spirit makers and maybe consider adopting a lost kitty.
14. The words “Welcome Milwaukee Visitors” from the opening credits of Laverne & Shirley are no longer perched on the front of Milwaukee City Hall. If catching a glimpse of that big friendly message was the whole reason for your TV-inspired visit, we’re sorry we couldn’t make your dreams come true. Those letters now live at the Milwaukee County Historical Society.
15. Former Milwaukee Mayor Henry Maier, for whom Henry Maier Festival Park is named, was born with the name Henry Nelke. He served as Milwaukee’s mayor from 1960-1988, making him the longest serving mayor in the history of the city. The only other mayor named Henry in Milwaukee’s history was Henry Hase, who served as acting mayor for less than a month in 1893.
16. Henry Maier Festival Park is home to Summerfest, PrideFest, and a variety of major ethnic festivals. Together, these events bring in about 1.5 million patrons per year, on average. Also, the Park is about the same acreage as 1,848,744 large Transfer Pizzeria Café pizzas.
17. Milwaukee’s Holler House is home to the country’s two oldest sanctioned bowling alleys…and hundreds of bras. Musician Jack White has bowled there, which is perfect for him. White is said to be obsessed with the number 3, and Holler House has three bathrooms (two upstairs and one downstairs).
18. The Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University is open to the public and free of charge. The Museum is named for Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty. Patrick Haggerty graduated summa cum laude from Marquette in Electrical Engineering in 1936 before going on to become a co-founder of Texas Instruments. There is a small lithograph entitled “Posisson d’Avril” (“April Fool,” in English) by Pablo Picasso at the Haggerty Museum. It measures 5.5 inches by 3.5 inches, making it the same width and about 1.8 inches shorter than Texas Instruments’ TI-83 graphing calculator. To our knowledge, however, you can’t load any cool games onto the Picasso.
19. The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum was named to the National Register of Historic Places on December 30, 1974. Exactly eight months earlier, on April 30, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 1974 NBA Finals at what is now the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. The Bucks haven’t won a Finals game at home since.
20. Just up the street from Villa Terrace, you’ll see the Frederick C. Bogk House, which is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is Milwaukee’s only single-family Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structure and it was built in 1916-17 for Alderman Frederick C. Bogk. The Bogk House is located just 3.9 miles from Milwaukee’s only Conejito’s Place. Conejito’s isn’t listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Yet.
21. Milwaukee’s Caleb Westphal hasn’t missed a Friday fish fry since 2013. By our estimates, he’s been served over 60 pounds of coleslaw.
22. Milwaukee native Al Jarreau earned in Bachelor of Science in psychology from Ripon College in 1962. He then went on to earn his master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa in 1964. He then went on to become a jazz legend for 50 years. Less interestingly, however, is that he performed the theme song for the 1980s television show Moonlighting, starring Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis was in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle with Demi Moore, who was also in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon. So, you see, Al Jarreau is well within the six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
23. The clock tower at Rockwell Automation on Milwaukee’s south side is the second largest four-faced clock in the world. “The Polish Moon,” as it’s often called, has faces that are each 40 feet, 3.5 inches in diameter. The largest four-faced clock in the world has clock faces that measure 141 feet, which is almost exactly half the height of the entire tower at Rockwell Automation (283 feet).
25. On October 13, 1984, Bob Uecker hosted Saturday Night Live. He appeared in several sketches, and even anchored “Saturday Night News.” He also did a commercial parody about drinking baseballs.
Thank you for visiting our city and we hope you learn much more about Milwaukee from exploring than you do from this article!