How this steel shed tells the story of Milwaukee’s maritime history

How this steel shed tells the story of Milwaukee’s maritime history

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This week on Urban Spelunking, we’re visiting the Port of Milwaukee, perhaps a somewhat mysterious place, as most Milwaukeeans seldom see it at ground level.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What goes on there, anyway?” as you look down from the Hoan Bridge, this week’s podcast will fill you in. Plus we wind back the clock to the mid 1950s to learn how the Saint Lawrence Seaway was built and how Milwaukee connected to the Atlantic.

Advance Boiler & Tank on Jones Island. Photo credit: Bobby Tanzilo / OnMilwaukee

So what about the shed?

To understand the Port of Milwaukee, especially its history, we need to zero in on the industrial character of the buildings there. This week we’re visiting the former Advance Boiler & Tank on Jones Island, a soon-to-be demolished steel and wood building, erected in post WWII Milwaukee.

As Milwaukee was opening up to the global economy via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, more and more large shipping vessels were passing through the Port. Those massive ships would regularly need to be serviced as they made their way through the seaway, and Advance was one of the many business standing by to answer the call, until as recently as 2010.

A view inside the main repair bay. Photo credit: Bobby Tanzilo / OnMilwaukee

Now, in 2021, the building is vacant and will be deconstructed soon. But that’s not where the story ends.

Listen to this week’s episode to learn about the massive investment coming to the Port — approximately $35 million — and what the future holds for the Advance site.

Read OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo’s complete story here.

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