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Visitors to Milwaukee will find an interesting variety of architecture, old and new. Much of the old architecture reflects Milwaukee's traditional German influence.
The first place of note for many visitors is the Allan Bradley clock tower, touted as the largest clock face in the world--even bigger than Big Ben in London. It is visible from I-94 coming into Milwaukee from the south. You will see the tower if you are coming in from the airport or driving up from Chicago.
The Santiago Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum on the lakefront in downtown Milwaukee has quickly become a symbol for the city. The design is quite unique and should not be missed by any visitor. Stay to watch the "wings" of the Bris de Soleil open at regularly scheduled hours. From the "Calatrava--as it is known in Milwaukee--you can meander north on Lincoln Memorial Drive along Lake Michigan (the view is especially pretty in the early morning when the sun comes up) and view scenic architectural landmarks on the bluff: the elegant Cudahy Tower apartment building, the ornate St. Mary's lighthouse, and the gardens of Villa Terrace Art Museum and Bartolotta's Restaurant.
Milwaukee City Hall is perhaps the best example of Old Milwaukee architecture. Unfortunately, it is shrouded in scaffolding now for the renovation of nearly 2,000 windows but will be a magnificent site when the project is complete sometime in November 2008. If possible venture inside, go up an elevator and admire the open atrium of this 19th century, German Renaissance revival building. That might make up for being denied an unobstructed view of the exterior. Just across the street from City Hall is the historic Pabst Theater.
The Pfister Hotel is another example of old Milwaukee architecture that should not be missed. Make sure you walk thru the lobby and admire the artwork and detail of the architecture. If you are visiting at Christmas time they have a Victorian decorated Christmas tree that is truly amazing.
Old World Third Street downtown includes many colorful 19th century buildings. Mader's restaurant was built around the turn of the century (1902 I think) and Usinger's Sausage is directly across from Maders. There are some views on this street where you would swear you were in Germany. You might also venture into Buck Bradley's to admire the block long wooden bar. It is an amazing site.
Don't forget to see some of Milwaukee's famous churches like St. John's Cathedral at the corner of Wells and Jackson Street where you can also relax in Cathedral Square across the street and listen to Jazz in the Park or enjoy the Bastille Days Festival in summer. There is also Gesu Church on 12th and Wisconsin Avenue in the Marquette University campus area and you really must see Milwaukee's south side churches, especially St. Josaphat's Basilica with its magnificent dome.
No architectural tour of Milwaukee is complete without a visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee's suburb, Wauwatosa. This one of a kind masterpiece, created by Wisconsin's own architect, Frank Lloyd Wright reveals the simple complexities and design of the circular structure.
Milwaukee is fortunate to have a both historical and new architecture style that peppers her skyline. This old Eurpean style city, meets modern charm at many intersections of the city. Enjoy!