The Cabin

414 Day: The History of Milwaukee

Episode Summary

The week kicked off Sunday with 414 Day, a holiday saluting Milwaukee and timed as such because of its area code - 414 - being the numeric representation for the date of April 14th. The Cabin salutes it every year, and this year Ana, Eric, and Jake dive into some interesting history for the city and county, from early settlement to world-influencing inventions to ups and downs of the last 75 years. Milwaukee history lessons you'll definitely find interesting await you on this week's episode of The Cabin!

Episode Notes

The Cabin is presented by the Wisconsin Counties Association and this week we’re featuring Milwaukee County; 

The Cabin is also presented by Group Health Trust:   

Campfire Conversation: 

Milwaukee uses its area code - 414 - to celebrate "414 Day" on April 14th. Across the city and county on that day, a variety of celebrations are held at a variety of bars, restaurants, museums... even the county park system and Summerfest get into it with pricing specials. In this episode, Ana, Eric, and Jake cover some historic notes about Milwaukee, beginning with its origins as a Native American settlement where wild rice grew and tribes gathered to trade as three rivers came together at Lake Michigan. Early incarnations of the city and county as named by European settlers included "Milwacky" and "Milwaukie" before the current spelling was settled upon - including through an interesting story involving one of the city's newspapers. The city was originally three warring settlements that realized they were chasing settlers away with their infighting and united as the City of Milwaukee in 1846. This port city began to grow steadily, drawing in a variety of newcomers who were especially influential initially from England and the eastern United States; immigration grew heavy in the late 19th century from Germany, Poland, Ireland, and Italy. The growth helped create a City Hall that was the Tallest Inhabited Building in the World when it opened; this is the time when Milwaukee emerged as a major center for beer brewing and industrial machinery, along with inventiveness. The typewriter and keyboard, the outboard motor, cordless grinders, the answering machine, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and a wide variety of tools and technology in both industry and medicine were created in today's 414, aka Milwaukee County. These led to many large industries that employed an often heavily unionized workforce well into the 20th century. But like other cities and industrial centers that flourished well past the post-World War II period, the 1960s and 1970s brought industrial decline as manufacturers began moving many operations either south within the country or to other countries. We discuss some of the economic and social issues that proved challenging in Milwaukee, as it did across the country, as the city began to grapple with more poverty and the issues around shifting to a more service-oriented economy. The city's sports history also comes into play, especially with baseball and basketball, and its penchant for celebration continues to be evident in many festivals, from ethnic heritage to one of the world's largest music festivals in Summerfest. Today, Milwaukee still grapples with issues but thrives in many ways, with a healthy downtown, numerous universities, and a variety of neighborhoods and districts offering wide options for living, working, and playing. The city's culinary scene is currently featured on Bravo's "Top Chef" along with the rest of Wisconsin, and the Republican National Convention will be hosted this summer. Milwaukee's history has a lot of fascinating twists and turns, join us for a "414 Day" look and salute on The Cabin!  

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