From the Hyatt Polaris Room
My goal was to duplicate the 1896 view of Milwaukee in the famous lithograph. Not quite, but great views anyway.
About the view: The rotating, 360-panorama restaurant at the top of the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, the downtown hotel, has been closed for five years now. The slow circle still works, but like many novelty rotating restaurants in America it finished operations in 2009, but remains available for catered parties. This is a popular feature with the many out-of-town guests staying at the Hyatt and attending a convention next door.
These photographs were taken during Doors Open, as the room was available to the public. I was most interested in a fixed point on the landscape and trying to duplicate the old lithograph I loved, which was near impossible.
I am referring to an 1898 chromolithograph created by the Gugler Lithographic Co. (that company’s building at 1333 N. Milwaukee Street—now the home of the Milwaukee Center for Independence—was created by architects Otto Strack, Ferry & Clas, and Eric Gugler. While the artwork has passed into the Library of Congress, original and fine condition prints of the now-famous view go for $3,450 (or you could buy a reproduction from dozens of vendors for $90).
The panoramic “bird’s eye” view showed Milwaukee supposedly from the new City Hall, which is center foreground. The streets actually bend as if you had a fisheye view with the Exposition Center on the far right (around 6th and Kilbourn), the Pabst Building at center right (Water and Wisconsin), the first Milwaukee County Courthouse at distant center (Cathedral Square), the Blatz Brewery at near left (now MSOE campus) and the Pabst Brewery at distant left (8th and Juneau).
It is a magnificent piece likely created by founder Henry Gugler, who became famous for his life-size portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Great detail is placed in color and architecture, but it would surely have been impossible for him to have sketched or painted from such a viewpoint. If true-to-life, he would have been in a hot air balloon above the Milwaukee River. No building of such height existed there at that time.
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.