Kilbourn Ave & Plankinton

This vibrant, Lyle Oberwise Kodachrome photograph shows the many changes to Kilbourn Avenue since 1961. Gone are the row of buildings on the right that lined the east side of Plankinton Avenue, as is the small, one story, billboard festooned building on the left that occupied the footprint that is now the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Further west, the former parking lot on the left is now the space encompassed by the expanded Wisconsin Center convention complex.

Plankinton Avenue itself has been closed north of Kilbourn, now replaced by Pere Marquette Park, creating a green space next to one of the remaining buildings in this view. Formerly the First Wisconsin National Bank, and before that, the Second Ward Savings Bank, this beaux-arts influenced structure designed by architectural team of Kirchhoff & Rose was completed in 1913, replacing a structure that had occupied the same footprint since 1855. It has been home to the Milwaukee County Historical Society since 1965. To the left, the six-story building on the southeast corner of W. Kilbourn and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, across from the Hyatt is still standing, but the image is dominated by the massive, neo-classical Milwaukee County Court House building looming in the distance. Designed by New York architect, Albert Randolph Ross, the structure was completed in 1931 at a cost of ten million dollars, and was the last major structure completed in Milwaukee that was influenced by the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois.


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