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How did Milwaukee build the massive pier home to Harbor House?

Every week on Urban Spelunking , Radio Milwaukee’s Nate Imig and OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo dig into the buildings and architectural features that help retain the city’s sense of history while it builds for the future.

On this week’s episode, we visit Pier Wisconsin along Milwaukee’s Lakefront and step inside one of its permanent residents: Harbor House.

The roots of the pier itself date back to the mid-1800s and an original structure composed of wood. But after too many Wisconsin winters and the constant motion of water crashing, it had to be replaced with a modern concrete pier, which was completed in 1960.

Today, Pier Wisconsin is also home to Discovery World and welcomes tons of foot traffic via the Oak Leaf trail. But Harbor House is a big draw thanks to its fine dining, along with a stunning view of the city skyline and Lake Michigan.

Harbor House opened in 2010 and has built a solid reputation for New England-style seafood, complete with an oyster bar, fresh fish and steaks. The restaurant recently transitioned to full ownership under the Bartolotta Restaurant Group after Michael Cudahy, a previous co-owner, passed away. 

On this episode, Bobby and I share even more info about Harbor House and the restaurant that preceded it, Pieces of Eight. Plus, we discuss the engineering feat involved with building out Pier Wisconsin and the “straight cut” underneath the Hoan Bridge. Listen below, then hop over to OnMilwaukee for even more photos and history.

Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee