Milwaukee in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Milwaukee's Miraculous Mallard
In the spring of 1945, the image of a mallard duck named Gertie nesting atop a rotting oak piling in downtown Milwaukee helped cheer a weary nation during the final days of World War II.
The Milwaukee Journal published 37 stories about Gertie that spring, dubbing her tale, "the sweetest story ever told." Six ducklings and one Life Magazine cover story later, Gertie and her brood charmed bustling Milwaukee to a near standstill.
The city postponed a major construction project to protect Gertie's home under the southwest corner of the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge. Hundreds of Milwaukeeans sent her Mothers' Day cards. A city official ordered 5 million gallons of fresh lake water to be pumped into the river when an oil slick approached Gertie's nest. Eventually, the entire brood - along with a 24-hour nurse - was moved to the window of Gimbel's Department Store, now Borders, 101 W. Wisconsin Ave.
That summer, Gertie and her five surviving ducklings were sent back into the wild, but Milwaukee will never forget them. A children's book about the incident has sold more than a million copies in six languages. A bronze statue of Gertie, located on the north side of the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge, was dedicated in 1997. Four smaller duckling statues representing her offspring were added in 1999.
Location. 43° 2.342′ N, 87° 54.633′ W. Marker is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in Milwaukee County. Touch for map. Marker is on the RiverWalk, about 50 feet north of the northwest corner of the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge over the Milwaukee River. Marker is in this post office area: Milwaukee WI 53202, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Milwaukee's Bridge War (here, next to this marker); Gertie (within shouting distance of this marker); The First House on the East Side of Milwaukee (within shouting distance of this marker); Wisconsin's Oldest Newspaper (within shouting distance of this marker); Nearly a Century of Planning (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Architectural Gems on the Riverfront (about 300 feet away); Every Building Tells a Story (about 300 feet away); The First Milwaukeeans (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Milwaukee.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Gertie
Also see . . .
1. Milwaukee's Gertie the Duck. (Submitted on December 9, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Gertie the Milwaukee Duck. (Submitted on December 9, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Animals • Bridges & Viaducts •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 8, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 1,088 times since then and 26 times this year. This page was the Marker of the Week January 16, 2011. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 9, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. 3, 4. submitted on December 22, 2010, by Bob (peach) Weber of Prescott Valley, Arizona. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. submitted on July 13, 2011, by Bob (peach) Weber of Prescott Valley, Arizona.