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Milwaukee's Rich History of Movie Theaters, Bowling Alleys

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Mar. 7, 2011
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Two fresh entries in Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series give readers a peek into Wisconsin history through vintage movie theaters and turn-of-the-20th-century bowling alleys.

Most Milwaukeeans are familiar with the 1927-built Oriental Theatre, but residents likely don't know that, in its heyday, the city boasted 90 such movie theaters. With the introduction of television into U.S. homes in the 1950s, movie palaces started to lose their popularity, and most closed their doors forever. But the glitz and glamour of big-screen Hollywood is kept alive in Milwaukee Movie Theaters, a redesigned publication that presents more than 100 iconic black-and-white images of the metropolitan area and absorbing facts about the theaters that once lined the streets of Milwaukee. Author Larry Widen, owner of the historical Milwaukee movie houses the Rosebud and the Times Cinema, is a Wisconsin history buff who has written two previous books on local cinemas.

When the American Bowling Congress' national tournament arrived in Milwaukee in 1905, the city was forevermore tied to the sport and affectionately became known as "America's Bowling Capital." Before 1950, Milwaukee had over 200 bowling alleys in operation (less than 20 remain today). A recent text, Milwaukee's Historic Bowling Alleys, uncovers how Brew City became "Bowling Central" through newspaper clippings and rare photographs of our town as it appeared in the early 20th century. Author Manya Kaczkowski is the owner of Stylus Editing & Writing Services and has contributed to local, regional and national magazines.

Widen and Kaczkowski will appear together at Boswell Book Co. on Wednesday, March 16, at 7 p.m.


The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear the case to determine if Wisconsin Republicans’ redistricting maps are too partisan. Do you believe the U.S. Supreme Court will order Wisconsin to redraw our legislative maps so the majority of legislative districts are competitive and voters will actually have a real choice between a Democrat and Republican?

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