Postcards of past Milwaukees

Sun, Dec 8, 2019 4-minute read

I bought these postcards at a Milwaukee County Historical Society book sale. They are in three categories: the Washington Park Zoo, Milwaukee parks, and miscellaneous.

The Washington Park Zoo

Barless Bear Den, Washington Park, Milwaukee, Wis

Date: postmarked August 16, 1940 in Milwaukee

Printed text: “Rising 15 to 18 ft., the walls of irregular naturalistic formation, have at the base a moat, 15 ft .wide, scarcely visible from the public walk. The bears standing on the extreme edge of the moat stare at the crowds only some 18 ft. distant. Unique groups of Polar, Grizzly, Black Bears and Wolves here enjoy practical freedom. The swimming pool is 15x30 ft. An inner den, 7x30 ft. is provided for sleeping and hibernating.”

Sheep Mountain, Washington Park Zoo, Milwaukee, Wis

Date: not postmarked, but appears to be the same age at the “Barless Bear Den”, ca 1940

Printed text: “5,000 tons of Lannon Stone were used for building this miniature mountain, 236 feet long, 118 feet wide, height 27 feet; contains a feed room 50 by 18 feet, a stairway leading to the upper part of the hill for distribution of food. Narrow paths are provided, intercepted with crevises and jutting crags. Water falls in a cascade down the south side of the hill into a small lagoon.”

Monkey Island at Washington Park Zoo

Date: not postmarked, unclear origin

Printed text: “Monkey Island at Washington Park Zoo, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Hundreds of monkeys enclosed within a moat are one of the principal attractions for the throngs of visitors to this famous zoo.”

Milwaukee parks

Milwaukee, Wis. - Washington Park Stone Bridge. - Die steinerne Brücke im Washington-Park.

Date: not postmarked, unclear origin

This postcard was published by C.N. Caspar Co. of Milwaukee, but it was made in Germany.

Flower beds, Grand Ave. Park, Milwaukee

Date: postmarked January 29, 1906

Now Wisconsin Avenue, both these statues are still standing near the Central Library. Notice the streetcar tracks with wires running overhead.

Ravine Drive, Lake Park, Milwaukee, Wis.

Date: postmarked September 30, 1955

Printed text: “Deep picturesque ravines, rustically beautiful, many delightful spots, artistic bridges, athletic fields, playgrounds and a concert pavilion provide a diversity of recreation offered by Milwaukee’s popular Lake Park.”

Grand Stairway, Lake Park, Milwaukee, Wis."

Date: no postmark, appears very similar to the previous postcard, ca 1950s

Printed text: “Lake Park, 126 acres overlooks Lake Michigan and affords a good view of Milwaukee Bay, deep picturesque ravines rustically beautiful, large concert pavilion, playgrounds, athletic fields, a stadium, artistic bridges, golf course, beautiful drives and walks, a delightful spot worth visiting.”

Statue of Solomon Juneau, Juneau Park, Milwaukee

Date: postmarked June 30, 1909

Notice that the there is no fill along the bluff. The land that became Veterans Park and Lincoln Memorial Drive didn’t exist yet.

Gordon Park as Seen from Riverside Park, Milwaukee, Wis.

Date: no postmark, 1950s perhaps?

Printed text: “Beautiful Riverside Park, comprising 24 acres, playgrounds, lawn tennis courts and a curling rink, affords an excellent view of the Milwaukee River. Directly opposite is Gordon Park with its playgrounds, tennis courts, river swimming for adults and a tank for children.”

A Beauty Spot in the Ravine at Grant Park, Milwaukee, Wis.

Date: postmarked August 9, 1949

Printed text: “This 500 acre County Park, located in South Milwaukee, is well known for its natural beauty. Thousands of visitors and pleasure lovers are drawn each year to its beautiful drives and walks, deep picturesque ravines rustically beautiful, wild life preserve, athletic fields, golf course, playgrounds, picnic grounds and large bathing beach.”

Azalea Show – Japanese Garden. - Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory

Date: not postmarked, the format of the card suggests a later date than the Grant Park and Lake Park cards


The Dam, Milwaukee River, Milwaukee

Date: the postmark is illegible, but it has a 1 cent series 1902 stamp

I’m not sure what location this is, perhaps somewhere near North Avenue?

Public Library and Museum, Milwaukee, Wis.

Date: not postmarked, but appears to be part of the same series as the park postcards from the late 1940s and 1950s

Printed text: “The library contains approximately 900,000 volumes for free use of the entire public for home circulation and for study use. The Museum exhibits a magnificent collection of historical relics and scientific curios.”

Milwaukee Brown Bottle

Date: not postmarked, but has a 1980 copyright

Printed text: “Tours of Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company’s plant in Milwaukee conclude in the tradition-filled Brown Bottle hospitality center. Named for a Schlitz innovation in protective beer packaging, the hall is decorated with authentic furnshings from European mansions and castles.”