Brian Jacobson
Vantage Point

From Atop the Hilton Hotel

Make that the Hilton Milwaukee City Center, which, with its radio antenna, is about as tall as the U.S. Bank building, and offers stunning views.

By - Oct 15th, 2014 03:14 pm
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Vantage Point. Photo by Brian Jacobson

The HILTON sign atop the hotel. Photo by Brian Jacobson

About the view:  The first thing you notice upon stepping out on the roof—and I have a very hard time not calling it the Hotel Schroeder as it was first named in 1928 after its magnate Walter Schroeder, then became the Sheraton-Schroeder in 1966 and then Ben Marcus’s Marc Plaza in 1972 until finally becoming the Milwaukee City Center in 1995—is the giant HILTON sign.

It is most visible to the western viewer at night with its illuminated red letters. To the rooftop observer such as myself, the letters spell out NOTLIH. That may be amusing only to me and Mr. Schroeder (see his hotel in Fond du Lac for historical joke reference). What is not amusing at this moment is the 15-foot iron ladder that leads up to the best view of the city. I demur as to the climb and allow the senior plant engineer to take my camera to get a few choice shots.

Hilton-City Center. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

Hilton-City Center. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

While I wait among the safety of elevated girders, I look up at the massive radio/TV tower stationed here. The height of the Hilton City Center is 275 feet, which caused a ruckus during the $7 million dollar construction as Milwaukee until then had a cap on building heights at 125 feet. The top of the massive antenna is another 350+ feet further up, making it a close rival to the US Bank Building for tallest structure in Milwaukee. There are men who have to go up there and replace the light bulbs that warn off airline flights.

In some ways, I wish I could rappel off the side.  I have always been taken by the stone relief carvings that ring the building with Art Deco-styled figures which need documenting. Then I could descend into the Chophouse for a steak reward, and maybe check in for a satisfying nap. I could spend months exploring the history in these walls which had names like the Empire Room and the Hunt Room. There have been many famous ballplayers and celebrities who have stayed here (and still do), weddings and balls in the Crystal Room that were celebrated, and then there are those secret panels in what was Walter Schroeder’s 24th floor bungalow apartment (known as the “Royal French Suite” and now billed as the “Presidential Suite”) —only one of which I know the location for — and which I have a strong desire to see. Some day.

View From the Vantage Point

About the “Vantage Point” Series

Art photographer and journalist Brian Jacobson has always sought out the higher viewpoints when it came to his urban cityscape photographs. Much like architectural photographers at the turn of the 20th-century, there is a different feel and scope to buildings and street patterns as seen from the rooftops, high hills and bridges in Milwaukee. His photo series tries to see what is typically unseen by the pedestrian.

One thought on “Vantage Point: From Atop the Hilton Hotel”

  1. partypanther says:

    Awesome pictures and a great article.

    I will say that if you guys are going to do more pictorials, it would be nice to have a little easier way to look through pictures as it is now, it takes a bit to load, then scroll down to see it and then click next.

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