Monday, September 24, 2012

Hometown Glory

I love Milwaukee.

I really do.

This weekend, Historic Milwaukee hosted an even throughout the city called Doors Open Milwaukee. Buildings throughout the city opened their doors for cool and unique tours. You could check out Milwaukee places that might not usually be open to the public. Despite the fact that I looked like a total scrub, I headed downtown to check it out.

My first stop: The observation tower at the US Bank Center.

The US Bank Center is the tallest and probably the most iconic tower on the Milwaukee skyline. It is made of steel covered in white aluminum and has distinct diagonal trusses. Before it was the US Bank Center, it was the Firstar Center, and before that, the First Wisconsin Center back when it was the headquarters for First Wisconsin National Bank.

Why do I know all this? My dad actually worked for First Wisconsin straight out of graduate school, followed by Firstar, and then US Bank. He may have been the only person that I know who worked for the same company for his whole career, continuing with the bank, merger after merger. He was a pretty lucky dude to make it through all of that turnover in the banking business. Not typical. He worked on a number of different floors in the tower, before we moved to Iowa, when they sent him to work with the banks there. When he was asked to move back to Milwaukee, he was back downtown, working at their building across the street until he got too sick to work anymore. He is why the building holds a special place in my heart, and why I was so excited to get downtown and up into the tower.

The building is 42 stories tall, and the observation tower is on the 41st floor. It was quite the ride to the top in the service elevator. My ears definitely popped.

The views were amazing. Truly spectacular. I am fairly certain it is the best place to see the city. Although you have to look from the corners, because the US Bank signs obscure most of the tower. Check these out:

So awesome. The only part that was surprising is that you can really only see out of the corners because the signs on the outside block the majority of the view. So everyone was huddled in the corners. It was quite controversial when they decided to put the signs on the building. Now I can see why. This is what the diagonals look like from the inside:

As a whole, it was a very cool experience. I ended my time at the US Center by going down to the second floor and getting some popcorn, as a JerBear tribute. I couldn't begin to tell you the number of days that he used to eat popcorn for lunch while he was working. And you all wonder where I get my bad habits from.... It seemed only appropriate.

Here's to you Jer Bear - call me crazy, but I like to think of it as your building. You certainly gave 'em your best years. Thanks for making Milwaukee my hometown. I'm discovering what a wonderful place that it really is. I'm glad US Bank didn't send us to Montana. : )

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