Milwaukee is known for many things… from beer, to great food, art, and everything in between—this is one city that isn’t short of interesting things. Here are 19 awesome facts that we bet you didn’t know about!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Milwaukee Public Museum is home to the world’s largest dinosaur head.
You can find a lot at the public museum: an exhibit that replicates the historic streets of Milwaukee, a room where you’ll be engulfed in real butterflies, but most people don’t know that the dinosaur exhibit is also home to the world’s largest T-rex head!
2. We have a statue of The Fonz.
If you find yourself walking down the RiverWalk on a warm summer day, you may run into a friend. There’s a bronze statue of the Fonz (from Happy Days) giving the thumbs up to our lovely river. You won’t want to miss this photo opportunity.
3. Our art museum moves.
Our art museum doesn’t just move the hearts of its visitors, the building itself move!. The Milwaukee Art Museum is one of the only museums to have a moveable part. The wings of the "Calatrava" open in the morning to welcome visitors and close at night... it's a magnificent sight.
4. We invented the typewriter.
Christopher Latham Sholes invented the QWERTY typewriter, and he did it right here in Milwaukee. After the inventor moved to the city to write for a newspaper, he created a "typewriting machine," now known as the typewriter.
5. Our downtown ice rink is bigger than Time Square.
"Slice of Ice" in Red Arrow Park is an ice rink that can comfortably fit 100 skaters. It even has a warming house that sells Starbucks!
6. The Oriental Theatre is a fan of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The East Side theater has played Rocky Horror every month since January of 1978!
7. The Milwaukee Wave is the oldest soccer team in the U.S.
If you haven’t been to a Wave game, you’re missing out. This indoor soccer team has been around since 1984, and is still going strong today.
8. Carmex, the popular lip balm, started here.
In the early 1930s, Alfred Woelbing began creating Carmex lip balm on his stove top to relieve his cold sores. He then began selling the product out of the trunk of his car before, eventually renting a facility in Milwaukee. The popular yellow-capped lip balm is still manufactured in a Milwaukee suburb.
9. We invented answering machines.
Even though we all have voicemails nowadays, the first commercially successful answering machine was made successful by two Wisconsin business men, Joseph Zimmerman and George Danner.
10. Milwaukee is known for Laverne and Shirley.
The classic 1970s sitcom was set in Milwaukee, shining light on all the Brew City has to offer.
11. We're home to the world's largest music festival.
With 900,000 attendees and 1,000 performances over 11 days, Summerfest is the world’s largest music festival. It’s only fitting that the giant fest put down roots here, as we are the "City of Festivals."
12. Our baseball stadium opens and closes.
Miller Park has a retractable roof... and it's fun to watch every time.
13. Pabst Brewery was the first Milwaukee brewery.
In 1844, Pabst was born!
14. We've been jumping in frozen lakes since 1916.
The Polar Plunge has been a New Year's Day tradition since 1916. To start the new year out right, Milwaukeeans strip down to jump in Lake Michigan. To get in the spirit, some people dress up—the crazier, the better.
15. Downtown's skywalk is unlike any other.
The skywalk that crosses over the Milwaukee River is the only skywalk that exists over boat traffic.
16. We have the oldest certified bowling alley.
Holler House is a great place to grab a drink, but you can also roll a strike at the oldest bowling alley in the U.S.
17. Theodore Roosevelt was shot here.
Sad, but true; during a speech in 1916, former president Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the chest at point-blank range. The assassination was not successful, due to a glasses case and manuscript in his chest pocket. Roosevelt then went on to finish the speech, with the bullet still in him.
18. There's a lake
under our city.
Some know that Milwaukee was built on swampland, but there is actually a lake underneath the city! Lake Emily is located under the old Northwestern Mutual home office, and we're working hard to preserve it. Workers check the basement regularly and add water when needed.
19. Milwaukee wasn't always... Milwaukee.
In early records, the city was spelled as "Milwaukie." We like the new spelling better.