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Thursday, June 14, 2012


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I think you summed up Chicago's attitude pretty well: who cares about Milwaukee? But I wonder what the general attitude in Milwaukee is. My friend Pete Saunders did an interesting analysis of what he called 'satellite cities' that could apply to Milwaukee:


From what I've seen, satellites that are in the process of being integrated into a bigger nearby metro go through a period of extreme hostility towards their bigger neighbor. The two cities near Indy Saunders noted - Bloomington and Anderson - have both taken explicit steps to distance themselves from Indianapolis, no matter how foolish that may be.

I'm not sure it's feasible for Milwaukee, a city that's really struggled demographically and economically, to go it alone. As another friend of mine said of it, "If Chicago is the sun of the Midwest solar system, Milwaukee is Mercury. It's too close to the sun and gets burned up." But it is a huge mindshift for even much smaller cities to stop thinking of themselves as standalone, so I'm guessing it would be very tough here too. Sounds like an interesting conference.

Interesting that you say that Chicago and Milwaukee should not expect too much help from Springfield or Madison. Chicago is closer to Madison than Springfield. And WRT to Aaron Renn's comment, I think the reputation of and interest in Madison amongst Chicagoans is higher than the reputations of and interest in Milwaukee and Springfield.

But then nobody knows much about Rockford. But Rockford is in bad shape these days. If it were up to me, I would expend energy on building ties with Madison and Milwaukee first.

Marc Eisen recently wrote about this issue with regards to Madison and Milwaukee:


When I read such pieces as his and the one here, I reflexively nod my head but I have to ask: how is "Chicago's attitude" determined? And who isn't cooperating?

I live in Madison and am simply an interested observer. I have no background in urban studies, &c. From my vantage point, there are a lot of ties amongst Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison. The Hiawatha ridership keeps bumping upwards; Badger Bus, which runs between Madison and Milwaukee, added another daily run last year; I read a statistic in the past couple years that, in terms of sheer numbers, Milwaukee and Cook counties are the top 2 in terms of out migration to Madison (Dane County?). A friend of mine lives near Edgerton (about 25 miles south of Madison) and many of his neighbors are from the Chicago area. They bought homes near Lake Koshkonong so they could come up on weekends and during the summer. And let's not forget all the Chicagoland tourists who go up to Wisconsin Dells and points farther north.

Being from Chicago originally, I have family and friends there. I also have friends in Milwaukee. Yeah, there's animosity - mostly revolving around sports - but it's not like people from either side of the Cheddar Curtain consider the other anathema. My kith and kin from the Land of Lincoln go to Milwaukee, Madison, and other areas of WI regularly. I go to Chicago and Milwaukee. We all visit one another and do weekend getaways in each city. So I just don't see an unwillingness to cooperate at the level of Jane and John Sixpack.

I understand that at least the WI state government doesn't have much interest in cooperating and strengthening ties as the 86ing of the expansion of the Hiawatha line and the cold calls our Lt. Governor is making to get businesses to move from the Rockford area to the Beloit area. Municipal governments don't seem keen on it either. But are they the only ones who need convincing? Is the Chicago attitude towards Milwaukee that Aaron noted purely that of government officials or does it extend to the movers and shakers in business there? Eisen also makes the point that cooperation between Milwaukee and Madison isn't lack solely because of animosity.

So who needs to be convinced to cooperate? And how much of the convincing is to overcome animosity and how much is to prioritize cooperation?

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