Jeramey Jannene

Viewaukee Provides Look at Milwaukee’s History

10 tower viewers provide historic Milwaukee views.

By - Aug 7th, 2020 01:02 pm
Viewaukee in front of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Viewaukee in front of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee County Historical Society has a new exhibit that lets the public look back in time and see Milwaukee’s history, right where it happened.

It’s called Viewaukee. And it shows still-images inside tower viewers, the pole-mounted binocular systems often seen at national parks or atop tall buildings, from the modern day vantage point of the historical image. A website,, provides more photos from each location. A marker on the viewer explains each perspective.

“It allows people to enjoy the past from the present with a comparative view” said MCHS executive director Mame McCully at a press conference Friday morning.

Hand sanitizing stations accompany each of the viewers, an accommodation to the pandemic.

“Especially in a year where education will look different than ever before, these can be used by teachers and parents to help youth learn about history,” said McCully. “People of all ages can use it.”

The exhibit will start with 10 locations and more will be added in future years to create themed trails. “Over the course of the next week or so we will have the rest of them installed,” said McCully, shortly after unwrapping the first.

The free exhibit is sponsored by contracting firm CG Schmidt. The first viewer, installed outside the War Memorial Center at 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., is in part a look at the company’s 100-year history. It overlooks the Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum, which the company constructed. The photo in the first viewer shows the Santiago Calatrava-designed building under construction.

“I think most people don’t recognize what a treasure trove of incredible photographs and memorabilia is located in the historical society,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “By having these photographs brought out to us, what you’re doing, in essence, is bringing the historical society into the community.”

MillerCoors, the Wisconsin Preservation Fund and VISIT Milwaukee are also project partners.

One of the images will feature a view relevant to today, a look down the James E. Groppi Unity Bridge (16th Street) as Fair Housing marchers walk across.


  • War Memorial Center – 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.
  • North end of Henry Meier Festival grounds – E. Clybourn St. and N. Art Museum Dr.
  • 407 N. Water St. (across from Milwaukee Public Market)
  • Milwaukee RiverWalk at the Marcus Center – 929 N. Water St.
  • North Point Water Tower – 2288 N. Lake Dr.
  • Miller Caves – 4251 W. State St.
  • Wisconsin Avenue Bridge over Milwaukee River
  • James E. Groppi Unity Bridge (16th Street) – N. 16th St. and W. Clybourn St.
  • Milwaukee City Hall – 200 E. Wells St.
  • Brady Street – 1240 E. Brady St.


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