AS A COUNTDOWN TO THE DNC, Jason Rae, the youngest person ever elected to the DNC and this year’s secretary, has been sharing one piece of Milwaukee trivia every day since July 13 of last year. The idea was to have 365 facts, but with the convention delayed, the number had to be upped to 401. Rae split his trivia into 13 Twitter threads, each with a different theme, to cover every aspect of Milwaukee that he could. I’ve gone through and pulled the most intriguing info from each thread so you can get all the best Milwaukee knowledge without all the Twitter scrolling. You’re welcome.
Thread #1: General Trivia
DATES TWEETED: JULY 13-AUG. 6, 2019
To start his epic trivia journey, Rae doled out some general trivia about Milwaukee’s origins, urban planning and other fun facts. Along the way, he pointed out that three of the city’s most iconic breweries, Miller, Pabst and Schlitz, each began with a different name. We’re glad for the change — “It’s Plank Road Time!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Thread #2: Cultural Institutions
DATES TWEETED: AUG. 7-SEPT. 15, 2019
This thread covers Milwaukee’s cultural hotspots, including its zoo, theaters and museums. Also in the mix is the Milwaukee Public Library, which is home to an autograph collection featuring 121 signatures from 101 notable historical figures. That includes JFK, FDR, H.G. Wells and the rest of the alphabet, too.
Thread #3: Higher Education
DATES TWEETED: SEPT. 16-OCT. 23, 2019
Rae covered many of Milwaukee’s colleges and universities, but of course, being an alumnus, he gave special attention to Marquette University. He made sure to point out some other famous alumni, like DNC sensation Rep. Gwen Moore, 13-time NBA All-Star Dwayne Wade and SNL legend Chris Farley. Milwaukee represent!
Thread #4: Sports
DATES TWEETED: OCT. 24-NOV. 30, 2019
Milwaukee has plenty of legendary sports teams, including the Brewers, the Admirals and the Wave, each of which has its own helping of trivia in this thread. Most interesting though, is the history of Milwaukee’s NBA team, the Bucks, who in 1971 became the quickest expansion team in pro sports history to earn a championship, winning the NBA season in just their third year of existence.
Thread #5: Government and Politics
DATES TWEETED: DEC. 1, 2019-JAN. 10, 2020
From Juneau all the way to Barrett, Milwaukee’s mayoral history is long and complicated. In the 20th century, Milwaukee was one of few American cities to elect three Socialist mayors: Emil Seidel, Dan Hoan and Frank Zeidler. Hoan held the office the longest, serving eight consecutive terms from 1916-1940, the longest continuous Socialist administration in U.S. history.
Thread #6: Weather
DATES TWEETED: JAN. 11-JAN. 22, 2020
Like all of Wisconsin, Milwaukee has bitter winters and scorching summers, but what sets us apart is the flame-shaped weather beacon atop the Gas Light Building downtown. First built in 1956, the flame changes colors to let Milwaukeeans know what changes in the weather to expect. Sure, smartphones might have made this technology obsolete, but it’s still cool.
Thread #7: Famous Milwaukeeans
DATES TWEETED: JAN. 23-FEB. 9, 2020
Milwaukee has served as a home for all manner of celebrities, from politicians to actors to drag queens. One Milwaukee celebrity who breaks Wisconsin’s conservative stereotypes is Mr. Showmanship himself, Liberace. The flamboyant performer was born in nearby West Allis and began his entertainment career on Milwaukee’s stages.
Thread #8: Transportation
DATES TWEETED: FEB. 10-MARCH 27, 2020
There are plenty of options for getting around Milwaukee: planes, trains, automobiles and, most recently, streetcars. The city’s electric streetcar system, the Hop, opened in 2018, but it’s actually not Milwaukee’s first streetcar system. Way back in 1860, a horse-drawn streetcar line opened, and the system continued growing until its closure in 1958.
Thread #9: Festivals
DATES TWEETED: MARCH 28-MAY 7, 2020
Milwaukee is called the City of Festivals for a reason, and Rae breaks it down in this thread, covering all the parties Milwaukee throws throughout a (non-pandemic-stricken) summer. Normally, Milwaukee PrideFest kicks off the festival season, and it’s the world’s largest LGBTQ+ festival held on permanent grounds. Milwaukee’s been celebrating Pride since 1974, when over 350 people attended the Gay Peoples Union Ball. Why doesn’t anyone throw balls anymore?
Thread #10: Architecture
DATES TWEETED: MAY 8-JUNE 4, 2020
Our skyline may be dominated by massive buildings like the U.S. Bank Center and Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons, but Milwaukee’s best kept architecture secret is a block of six tiny homes designed by Wisconsin’s most acclaimed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. You can tour the Burnham Block for yourself — once it reopens for official tours, that is. Until then, you can always plan a drive-by.
Thread #11: Civil Rights
DATES TWEETED: JUNE 5-JUNE 16, 2020
One of Milwaukee’s biggest failings as a city is its track record with segregation and its treatment of Black citizens. Two champions for civil rights in Milwaukee were Vel Phillips, the first woman and first Black person to serve on the Common Council, and Father James Groppi, who together led marches for equal access to housing in Milwaukee. The marches continued for 200 days straight, the longest protest movement in the city’s history (so far), and a city-wide open housing ordinance was finally passed on April 30, 1968.
Thread #12: Convention-Area Buildings
DATES TWEETED: JUNE 17-JULY 11, 2020
In retrospect, this one really hurts to read. Oh, well — Milwaukee may not be expecting many DNC visitors anymore (or really, any at all), but the buildings are still awesome! The most impressive, of course, is Fiserv Forum. The arena opened in 2018, and it was record-breaking, though not for what you might expect. Fiserv busted out the world’s largest vinyl floor mat for opening day, clocking in at 2,224 square feet. Now that’s a welcome mat.
Thread #13: Random Facts
DATES TWEETED: JULY 12-AUG. 16, 2020
To close out his trivia extravaganza, Rae dedicated a thread to all the fun facts that didn’t quite fit anywhere else. Milwaukee’s many innovations are fascinating (the QWERTY typewriter, Carmex lip balm, one of the first answering machines), as are its more out-there art pieces (looking at you, Bronze Fonz), but what caught my eye was Milwaukee being home to the nation’s oldest bowling alley. It’s in the basement of the bar Holler House, which has been open since 1908. It may only have two lanes and you’ll have to keep score by hand, but it’s got enough history and character to make up for it.
Jason, thanks for the crash course in Milwaukee trivia! Check out the rest of our DNC coverage here.