A shot of the oldest custard stand in Milwaukee.

photo by: tyle_r/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

February 25, 2016

12 Things We Bet You Didn't Know About Milwaukee

  • By: Emily Schmidt

To help you get ready for the 2016 Main Street Now Conference in Milwaukee, here are a dozen things we bet you didn’t know about the Brew City.

1) Milwaukee is the frozen custard capital of the world, with the highest concentration of frozen custard shops found anywhere.

Frozen custard has at least 10% milk fat and 1.4% egg yolk solids, and is made fresh daily in a machine known as an iron lung—making it much creamier than regular ice cream. There’s even a custard stand at the airport, so waste no time in indulging.

A picture of frozen custard, for which Milwaukee is famed.

photo by: Chelsea Nesvig/Flickr/CC BY-2.0

Love frozen custard? There's no better place for it than Milwaukee.

2) ATMs are locally known as TYME machines.

Pronounced time, TYME stands for “Take Your Money Everywhere." It was the first system of its kind when it debuted in 1975. Walk up to any local and ask where to find the nearest TYME machine, and they’ll answer with a straight face.

A Tyme machine, or what ATMs are called in Milwaukee.

photo by: Jib/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Milwaukee locals call ATMs "TYME machines."

3) By the 1850s, there were already more than two dozen breweries in Milwaukee, including Pabst, Miller, Schlitz and Blatz.

Today, Wisconsin is home to almost 100 breweries, with everything from beer giants to brew pubs. (Learn more with these mobile workshops: Milwaukee Breweries, Historic Pubs of Milwaukee, and Pabst Brewery Redevelopment.)[Ed. note: Learn more

Miller Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

photo by: Amy the Nurse/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

The Miller brewery is one of many in Milwaukee.

4) Milwaukee has a weather report built into the skyline.

The Milwaukee Gas Light Building broadcasts the weather with a 21-foot-tall glass flame lit red for warmer, blue for cooler, and yellow for no change in temperature, with a blinking light indicating precipitation. There's an iPhone app that forecasts for your current location in gas light code.

The Gas Light Building on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee.

photo by: vincent desjardins/Flickr/CC BY-2.0

The top of the Milwaukee Gas Light Building features a glass flame indicating the weather.

5) Milwaukeeans refer to drinking fountains as bubblers.

Milwaukee’s not-for-profit bike share program, Bublr Bikes, takes its name from this fun-to-say colloquialism. A portion of the Park East Corridor: Undoing Urban Renewal mobile workshop will be led aboard Bublr bikes!

People in Milwaukee call drinking fountains "bubblers."

photo by: Indigo Skies Photography/Flickr/CC BY-NC ND 2.0

A what?! Milwaukeeans call drinking fountains "bubblers."

6) Milwaukee’s Summerfest is the largest music festival in the world.

Located on lakefront festival grounds built over a former Nike missile site, Summerfest runs for eleven days in the summer and features over 1,000 performances on multiple stages.

A sign announcing Summerfest in Milwaukee.

photo by: Dave Reid/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Not Bonnaroo, not Coachella, but Milwaukee's Summerfest is the world's largest music festival.

7) Milwaukee is home to the world’s first conoidal domes, built in 1964.

Known locally as The Domes, the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory has three beehive-shaped glass domes housing three different ecosystems—tropical, desert, and temperate. If you like midcentury architecture, flowers, or both, stop in for a visit.

The world's first conoidal domes at Mitchell Park Conservatory in Milwaukee.

photo by: rocor/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory boasts of the world's first conoidal domes.

8) Wisconsin is the largest US producer of…ginseng.

Wisconsin is also #1 in cheese production, but you knew that already. It's also the only place outside of Europe to offer a Master Cheesemaker Program. The 3-year program requires 10 years of cheese making experience to even apply. When you’re in town, be sure to try cheese curds. They squeak when you bite into them!

Cheese curds.

photo by: Matt de Turck/Flickr/CC BY-NC ND 2.0

Wisconsin is the American leader in producing cheese curds and ginseng.

9) Milwaukee is home to the largest four-faced clock tower in the U.S.

The Allen-Bradley Clock Tower, affectingly known as the Polish Moon because of its proximity to a historically Polish neighborhood, was the largest of its kind in the world (bigger than Big Ben) until the Abraj Al-Bait Towers were built in 2010.

The Allen-Bradley Building Clock Tower in Milwaukee, the world's largest.

photo by: darius norvilas/Flickr/CC BY-2.0

Milwaukee's Allen-Bradley Clock Tower is bigger than London's Big Ben.

10) Milwaukee is known as the Brew City (see #3) and the Cream City, which is brick-related, not milk-related.

Locals also use MKE, Milwaukee's airport code, as a term of endearment. And despite what you've heard, it's not really pronounced Mill-e-wah-que.

11) The Milwaukee Art Museum has buildings designed by three world-famous architects: Eero Saarinen, David Kahler, and Santiago Calatrava.

This year’s Big Bash will be held within Calatrava’s breathtaking Windhover Hall, which boasts a ninety-foot-high glass ceiling and a 217-foot movable sunscreen, known as the Brise Soleil.

The Milwaukee Art Museum.

photo by: clarkmaxwell/Flickr/CC BY-NC ND 2.0

The Milwaukee Art Museum truly is an architectural wonder.

12) Wisconsin is the birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright, and fabulous examples of his architecture are found all over the area.

The Frank Lloyd Wright in Southeastern Wisconsin mobile workshop will visit four of those examples: Model B1 American Systems Home in Milwaukee; Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa; and Wingspread and the SC Johnson Building in Racine.

The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

photo by: Richie Diesterheft/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa was designed by Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright.

Visit the 2016 Main Street Now Conference website for links to registration, hotel reservations, education sessions, mobile workshops, events, and sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities. This post originally appeared on MainStreet.org.

By: Emily Schmidt

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