Milwaukee: Huron Street by Moonlight in 1890


In the days before the advent of the steam engine, all major transportation in the horse drawn era was by sail. This accounts for the fact that nearly all principal cities grew up either at the coastline or on the nation’s vast inland river network.

With no protected harbor along the Michigan shoreline, Milwaukee came into prominence because its river made an ideal haven for the extensive wharfside facilities that were necessary to service the armada of sailing vessels that would eventually make the young city into a major brewing and manufacturing center.

My scene here is at Huron Street where the bridge has been swung open to allow a barkentine to pass down river and out to the lake on a bright moonlit night. As evening strollers enjoy the gas-lit waterfront, horse drawn traffic awaits the closing of the bridge before they clatter over the cobblestones and on to their destinations.

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