Best of Milwaukee 2017: City Life

It’s boom time on the Third Coast – best new buildings and our favorite happenings around town this year.

Best Viral Video:
Car Hood Girl

It’s difficult to determine which was the scariest moment for Melissa Smith, whose successful struggle to regain control of her stolen SUV was caught on tape back in May: the instant she turned, while pumping gas, to realize a man dressed in black had commandeered her car, or maybe the juncture when she leapt onto the hood. Miraculously, Smith suffered no major injuries, only the loss of her phone and purse, which the thief had still managed to grab.

Best Flower-Maker:
David “Fly Flower Man” Williams

Making bright blooms out of “cardstock, printer paper and most any kind of paper” is David Williams’ skill, but spreading love is his true mission. “I’m out to revive flower power,” says the 61-year-old Milwaukee native, who honed his crafting in prison. “I made some mistakes, but I turned them into something good.”

Best “Hey Did You Read” News Story:
Raquel Rutledge on tainted alcohol

Pulitzer-winner Rutledge, of the Journal Sentinel, has a knack for finding stories in the wide open. This time, it was the tragic and puzzling story of a family whose daughter died after suffering unexplained injuries at a resort in Mexico, one of a number of cases possibly linked to tainted alcohol. After the July 11 story, and followups, the State Department issued a warning to vacationers.

Best No-Sweat PR Move:
Embracing the Paris Accord

When big city mayors join hands to support or combat a particular cause, people tend to listen, and newspapers tend to write a story or two. And so it was on June 1 when Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett joined with a group called the “Climate Mayors” to reaffirm the Paris Accord after President Donald Trump cast it aside. “We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals,” the mayors’ public letter said, “push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy.”

Best Name Change:
Milwaukee PBS

Because our Best Of calendar runs from October-October, we missed it last year when Milwaukee Public Television renamed itself Milwaukee PBS. We approve, but why is this so important? MPTV sounds like some kind of local access junk, whereas MKE PBS is clearly the home of “Frontline” and other fine programming.

Rocky Marcoux’s Favorite Buildings

1st place:

The new Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons
745 N. Prospect Ave.
“An incredibly significant building for the city,” says Marcoux, Milwaukee’s development commissioner. “All of that glass was assembled by people from our neighborhoods.”

2nd place:

The new Bucks Arena
901 N. Fourth St.
“A beautiful building that talks about the city’s future. A lot of people from New York are looking at Milwaukee who hadn’t before.”

3rd place:

Old Main historic hospital at VA Medical Center
5000 W. National Ave.
“There was no VA then, and after the Civil War, we had a huge number of casualties.”

4th place:

Art deco former A.O.Smith R&D Facility
27th and Hopkins streets
“It was one of the first open offices in the country.”

5th place:

Ingeteam manufacturing facility in the Menomonee Valley
3550 W. Canal St.
“A beautiful design that speaks to renewable resources.”

Best of Milwaukee 2017


Best of Milwaukee 2017

Check out all of this year’s winners!


‘Best of 2017’ appears in the October 2017 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning October 2, or buy a copy at

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