Wisconsin Ave. at Milwaukee St., 1862
Back then, much of the city's main street was used for residential homes.
In the earliest years commercial development in Milwaukee would focus on the river which, after harbor improvements in 1857, became a hospitable place for shipping by water. Before the Civil War railroads in this area were still in their infancy. This is a view of Wisconsin St. (now Avenue) just a couple blocks east of the Milwaukee River looking towards the east and a bit north. The cross street is Milwaukee St.
In 1893, the Pfister Hotel would be constructed on the site of the old Wolcott residence. Between the residence and the Customs House is a vacant parcel of land at the northeast corner of Wisconsin and Milwaukee. This would be developed in the mid to late 1860s and these buildings — some of the oldest commercial structures in downtown Milwaukee — are still there today. Next week’s photogragh will show how this intersection appeared just a few weeks later.
Jeff Beutner is a collector of photographs, postcards and stereoviews of old Milwaukee. This column features these images, with historical commentary by Beutner.