Bubbler Talk

What's got you scratching your head about the Milwaukee area? What have you always wanted know about Milwaukee and the region?

WUWM News reporters and Lake Effect producers have started investigating and answering your questions.

Participate in the process and submit your question below:

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Ways to Connect

Mitch Teich

A lot has changed at the Wisconsin State Fair since the 1920s, especially in the categories of foods on sticks, foods that are fried, and foods that are fried and placed on sticks.

Ben Husmann, flickr

Bubbler Talk is supposed to be on its summer break, as we gather more questions and look for more answers to what you’ve always wanted to know about this place we call home. But not long before the hiatus, a question came in that it would be a shame to wait until fall to answer. "Hi, my name is Sarah Richoux, from San Francisco. My question is: Why is frozen custard such a big deal in Milwaukee?"

Bobby Tanzilo

WUWM's Bubbler Talk receives a lot questions from a lot of people about Milwaukee's streets. So, to end this season of Bubbler Talk, we found two 'road' scholars - historian Carl Baehr and OnMilwaukee's Bobby Tanzilo - to answer your questions in a lightning round.

Here we go:

Before jumping into the remnants, here's a bit of history on Milwaukee's Bridge War of 1845 - from John Gurda's book, The Making of Milwaukee:

Rachel Owens

Update:

After WUWM’s story about the flame atop the Wisconsin Gas Light building aired, Sue Riordan emailed Bubbler Talk to share how original version the flame poem actually ended.

(For those curious, the final stanza of the original poem was: “When the flame’s in agitation, expect precipitation” and was later changed to “When there’s a flickering flame, expect snow or rain.”)

Marge Pitrof

This week’s Bubbler Talk question comes from John Koeppen: What Milwaukee building was used as the military induction center for draftees and enlistees, during the Vietnam War?

"It’s completely different than what it was back in 1968," he says.

Maybe you can tell, John knows the answer- at least part of the answer. He's a Vietnam veteran. The Milwaukee building he’s talking about is in the now fashionable Third Ward - the white building across the street from the Milwaukee Public Market.

Rachel Morello

Why are so many schools in Milwaukee named after streets? That’s our Bubbler Talk question for the week, submitted by Sarah Neilsen. Seems like a pretty straightforward topic – but as it turns out, there’s quite a complicated history behind the answer.

“Naming of schools has always been a challenge in Milwaukee, and at times a controversial one,” says Steve Baruch, a retired MPS administrator.

Dan Mullen, flickr

Phil Lapayowker has noticed a distinct lack of what some people unkindly call ‘flying rats’ in Milwaukee.

"I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about animals in cities and stuff, and they ended with 'Do you know what color a pigeon’s eyes are?' and I was like, I have no idea!" he says. "So I’ll go look for one, or when I’m walking I’ll see one I’m sure. And I’ve never run into one in Milwaukee… I mean it’s kind of crazy. You go to other cities like Chicago and they’re everywhere."

Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library

This week's Bubbler Talk inquiry takes us to Milwaukee's lakefront. It has just a few buildings, such as snack bars and a place to buy a kite. Yet there's an imposing structure on the north end of Lincoln Memorial Drive, which is a mystery to many.

California native Liam Callanan says the building has intrigued him since he moved here. "It kind of looks Spanish Californian, it's got the Spanish red tile roofs, kind of the beige stone exterior," he explains.

Michelle Maternowski

Sometimes we come across questions that confound us. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Do we truly have free will? And this week’s profound Bubbler Talk question: What’s up with ham and rolls in Milwaukee?

“I think it’s more of a Milwaukee southside tradition," Carl Canfora says.

He and his wife Rosalba own Canfora Bakery in Bay View.

Courtesy of Tetra Tech EM Inc.

Update:

A bankruptcy judge Tuesday approved the sale of the former Milwaukee Solvay Coke & Gas Company site to Wisconsin Gas LLC, a We Energies affiliate. It was the only bidder, offering $4 million for the 47-acre parcel.

We Energies is among several businesses that are responsible for the site's environmental cleanup. The utility used to operate a gas works there years ago.

Before previous owner Golden Marina filed for bankruptcy, it had hoped to create housing and a marina there.

Rachel Owens

Almost 20 years ago, Milwaukee was 'invaded' by three six-foot-tall ladybugs. They latched on to a downtown building and have been there ever since. 

For years, Nancy Leafblad of Brookfield has wondered about the enormous bugs, so she turned to Bubbler Talk to learn more.

Library of Congress / Wikimedia

The City of Milwaukee has dozens of neighborhoods. Each with its own distinct name. And if you’re like Glenda Puhek, you may have wondered how those names came to be.

Glenda was born in the city and currently lives in Riverwest - a neighborhood name she thoroughly understands. It is, after all, west of the river. When revisiting some of the Milwaukee neighborhood posters created by the city in '80s, she started wondering about who decided what should be included on them? Who really defines Milwaukee's neighborhoods?

Michelle Maternowski

Anyone who grew up in Milwaukee or who lived here before 2005 may remember a pungent yeast smell in the Menomonee Valley, around I-94. 

Listener Dan Dickover of Bay View was one of those people. He moved to the city in 1997, and asked Bubbler Talk: "For the last few years I haven’t really smelled that smell anymore, so I was wondering why that is.” 

Audrey Nowakowski

For this week’s Bubbler Talk, we visit the Pryor Avenue Iron Well in Bay View. Listener Lisa asked: What can you tell me about the Bay View Spring on Pryor Avenue? Why and how did it start? It's still running; do people still drink from it?

Built in 1882, the Pryor Avenue Iron Well is the only one that remains in the entire city of Milwaukee. In Bay View alone, there used to be six wells throughout the neighborhood for residents to use.

Michelle Maternowski

This week’s Bubbler Talk question comes from Jeanne Pehoski, who wanted to know: When is the Grand Avenue going to be a go-to destination again and get some viable anchor stores and better offerings in the food court?

I met Jeanne at the mall in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, where she shops a couple times a month. She says she visits TJ Maxx and Walgreens - a couple of the stores that have survived for years.

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