By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 31, 2022 at 9:03 AM

On a couple occasions, but most notably in 1968, Milwaukee Public Schools commissioned aerial photos of all its properties. These photos capture not only school buildings, but their playgrounds and parking lots and their surroundings.

Those overviews are great for seeing buildings now altered or vanished, but also altered and vanished neighborhood structures. They're also cool because we can see how these important buildings nestled into their neighborhoods.

Thanks to the folks at Milwaukee Recreation, we can share some of these fine photos. Enjoy!

12th Street School (1968)
2669 N. 12th St.


This is a great shot because we get to see two lost schoolhouses. That’s the old North Division on the far left, with the old 12th Street School, in the center (ignore that arrow).

21st St School (1979)
2130 W. Center St.


This was a lovely 19th century schoolhouse designed, at least in part, by Schnetzky & Liebert. It was demolished not long after this and replaced with the current Gwen T. Jackson School, which was built on the playground you can see out back.

Boys’ Trade and Technical High School (undated)
319 W. Virginia St.


The site of the school is now the football field and the field/playground south of the pictured building now houses Bradley Tech. I like this shot for its wider view of a swath of Walker’s Point.

Cass Street School (1968)
1647 N. Cass St.


Cass still stands in the same spot, but this photo is pretty great for its inclusion of the tanneries along the river and some other now-gone structures.

Fratney Street School (1968)
3255 N. Fratney St.


A nice look at Fratney before it got a massive addition and the brick painted. Also offers a nice little look at the beerline and a few Riverwest blocks.

Frederick J. Gaenslen School (1968)
1301 E. Auer Ave.


I always love any peek I can get at the 1930s Art Deco Gaenslen building designed by Eschweiler & Eschweiler. This building was torn down and replaced with the current building. Nice look at the river, too.

Hartford Avenue School (1968)
2227 E. Hartford Ave.


Another Eschweiler building, this one much older, dating to around 1916, Hartford is enmeshed in the UW-Milwaukee campus. This shot shows a stretch of homes across Maryland Avenue that have been gone for a very long time now.

James Fennimore Cooper School (1968)
5143 S. 21st St.


A nice shot of a far South Side school put up when a neighborhood was still sprouting up. That grassy section on the right would later get more homes next to where Reagan High School now occupies the former Sholes Middle School building.

Maryland Avenue School (1968)
2418 N. Maryland Ave.


This is a nice shot of a beautiful building before it was painted and, in 2016, expanded, but I thought you might really enjoy seeing all that open space on the east side of Prospect Avenue. All that land is now occupied by Columbia-St. Mary’s, the Milwaukee Catholic Home and other structures.

Wilson Park School (1968)
2525 W. Howard Ave.

Wilson ParkX

Here’s a rare view of Wilson Park School, on the southwest side, which no longer operates as a school. Instead, it’s home to the Wilson Park Senior Center.

Wisconsin Avenue School (1968)
2708 W. Wisconsin Ave.


This building is closed and has been sold to the Ambassador Hotel, which is converting it into a hotel. This photo shows lots of stuff around the intersection of 27th and Wisconsin that’s now gone, most notably the tower atop the now-former Tower Theater, just to the north.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.