A very dear friend of mine moved to Milwaukee half a year before I did. She took up residence in a part of Milwaukee I had never heard of or been to before: Bay View.
Bay View is the southern most Neighborhood of Milwaukee and sits right above the city of St. Frances. The neighborhood was settled during the 1830 by Europeans and became Milwaukee’s first suburb in 1879. Bay view quickly became a neighborhood for the working class with the establishment of the Milwaukee Iron Company there in 1868 and Milwaukee’s first train station in 1855. Historically, Bay View is most well known as the site of the Bay View Massacre and a city rooted in labor rights activism.
Before the establishment of workers unions, employees (especially those in factories) all over the United States and in Milwaukee faught towards increasing the rights of workers and placing regulations on their employers. On May 4th, 1886 a about 14,000 Polish and building-trade workers and their families gathered together at the Milwaukee Iron Company Rolling Mill in Bay View to strike against their employer and demand an eight hour work day. Over 200 National Guardsmen where working to keep the crowd in order, but as the group began to approach the Mill, the mayor at the time Jeremiah Rusk, ordered the Guardsmen to “shoot to kill” any strikers who attempted to enter; seven people died and many more were seriously injured. To this day, a memorial service is held annually to commemorate those who lost their lives and fought for workers rights .