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Was 1980s Milwaukee really that long ago? It looks ancient in these photos by the late Ray Szopieray. (PHOTO: Ray Szopieray)

10 views of 1980s Milwaukee

Two weeks ago, we introduced you to the great photographic work of the late Ray Szopieray, thanks to Adam Levin, who purchased many of the photographer's slides at an antiques store. Last week, Karl Bandow, who also nabbed some of Szopieray's Kodachrome treasure, shared some great photos of the city as it appeared in the 1960s.

Now, Bandow dishes up 10 photos of Milwaukee as it appeared in the 1980s, including one shot perhaps two weeks before I arrived in Milwaukee and another that is so close it could have been the day I got here. As you might imagine, these pictures are especially familiar to me. At the same time, I'm alarmed at how ancient they look.

Many of the images first appeared on Levin's Old Milwaukee group on Facebook.

Enjoy, and watch OnMilwaukee for some 1990s pics, too...

1. 411 Building construction

This one is described as showing construction of the "Wilmore Building," in September 1984. In 33 years in this town, I've never heard anyone call 411 E. Wisconsin Ave. – in which I briefly worked – the "Wilmore Building." But, maybe?

2. Bradley Center construction

The construction of the Bradley Center, March 1988. I'm guessing we expected it would last longer.

3. Circus Train

The Circus Train, June 10, 1985. Nuff said.

4. 6th and Wisconsin

This eastward view from 6th and Wisconsin really caught my eye because it is the Milwaukee I arrived to find when I moved here – roughly two weeks before the photo was taken – the day after my high school graduation. The "new" Reuss Federal Plaza is in the image, as are a ton of places that have disappeared – basically everything on both sides of the street between 4th and 6th Streets except the Hilton City Center, which was called the Marc Plaza in 1983.

5. Water and Wisconsin

The Pabst Building was gone already when this photo was snapped on June 7, 1981, leaving a lot that would sit vacant for about eight years, right in the heart of the city. Interesting, too, is that Eschweiler-designed office building in the center still has its ornament (see photo below for an "after" look).

6. Broadway and Michigan

I like this photo looking northeast from Michigan and Broadway, taken Aug. 26, 1980, because it shows a lovely strip of Downtown when there were businesses in pretty much every space, including Kahn's (clothing) on the corner, a pharmacy and the Stone Toad rock and roll club a couple doors north.

7. The Iron Block

This September 1984 view east on Wisconsin Avenue from the river is especially notable for three things. It shows the sorry state of the Iron Block Building, the construction of the 411 Building and the fact that the Eschweiler building on the northeast corner of Water and Wisconsin has already undergone the transformation to its current state.

8. Lincoln Bridge demolition

The demolition of the old Juneau Park bridge down to Lincoln Memorial Drive, June 7, 1981. Read more about it here.

9. Transportation Parade, Wisconsin Avenue

A range of vehicles wound through the streets of Downtown for the Transportation Parade – seen here on Plankinton and Wisconsin – on June 25, 1983.

10. Broadway, after the fire

This photo of the west side of Broadway, between Michigan and Clybourn, was taken Aug. 26, 1980, a year and two days after a fire raged through Display Corporation International, which occupied 517, 521 and 525 N. Broadway. Most interesting to me is that this is a rare photo that shows the building in which Tony Selig opened The Underground rock club, which was in the basement of that three story grey building with the pizza sign out front.


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