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Frank Zeidler Centennial

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Frank Zeidler, Milwaukee's most recent Socialist mayor, would have celebrated his 100th birthday on September 20th, 2012. He wrote about serving as mayor (1948-1960) in A Liberal in City Government: My Experiences as Mayor of Milwaukee. It primarily focuses on the 1948 election, the day-to-day aspects of governing, the annexation drive that doubled Milwaukee's land size for population growth and economic development, and unsuccessful efforts for a metropolitan government to reduce duplicate units of government in the Milwaukee metropolitan area.

Zeidler rode public transit and did not drive, but that did not stop him from supporting expressway planning and construction when he was mayor. James Casey's Mayor Frank P. Zeidler: Transportation Development in Post-War Milwaukee documents how the City took an early lead to build expressways in Milwaukee County. The Department of Public Works (DPW) broke ground on the S. 44th St. (Stadium South) Expressway in 1952. Progress was slow due to lack of federal funding that would not come until the 1956 Interstate highway program and suburban opposition to the city potentially building espressways into the suburbs. Sensing this, the Milwaukee County Expressway Commission took over expressway construction in late 1953 and the East-West Expressway (I-94) was built within the city limits to State Hwy. 100, thus avoiding Wauwatosa and West Allis by a few blocks. Casey also briefly covers Zeidler's unsuccessful efforts to persuade the Common Council to create a Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) or allocate $600,000 to save the last remaining Rapid Transit interurban (light rail) lines to Waukesha and Hales Corners. Photos and materials from the Carl F. and Frank P. Zeidler Papers collection are on display at the Central Library and City Hall.

Van Lingle Mungo


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