Let’s Compare: Two New York Times Articles About Milwaukee

If you are from Wisconsin and were on Twitter at all Thurdsay, you may have heard about how Milwaukee was the centerpiece of a recent New York Times travel article. I am both of those things and so I did a quick Google search to find the article. The first item that came up was an article from 2008 called, “36 Hours in Milwaukee.” This was surprising because just a few slots below was the article I had been reading about on Twitter with the exact same title. Apparently the New York Times just really loves spending 36 hours in Milwaukee. So I thought it might be fun to compare the two articles and see which one does a better job capturing the essence of the city.

First to make a Laverne and Shirley reference – 2008, in the first sentence no less.

First to mention beer – 2008

First to refer to Milwaukee as “blue-collar” – 2013

First to mention brats – 2008

First to mention Milwaukee Festivals – 2013

First to mention a Milwaukee sport’s team – 2013

First to mention Harley-Davidson – The Harley Davidson Museum was the first stop in 2008’s tour of the city.

First to mention cheese – First stop on 2013’s trip.

First to visit a brewery – 2008

First to visit a bar – 2008, technically, but it’s a cocktail bar, so take that for what it is.

First to visit the art museum – 2013

First to mention Lake Michigan – 2008

Better grandiose description of the Calatrava – 2008, “With its movable wings expanded to their full, 217-foot span, the building looks either like a large white bird landing on Lake Michigan, or the tail of a while whale emerging from the water.”

First to make something up about Milwaukee – 2013, with its claim that there exists such a thing as “Milwaukee-style pizza.”

Most ridiculous detail included to describe Milwaukee – 2013 “Cross a bridge or two if you want; Milwaukee, situated at the meeting of three rivers, has many.”

First Nic Cage meme used, pay up Jon

Stops described on both lists: MIlwaukee Art Museum (because, duh), Lakefront Brewery Tour (because it’s less obvious than Miller), and the Domes (also duh).


2008 – 8

2013 – 7

It’s a tight race, so which one actually does the better job of giving the reader the full Milwaukee experience? Neither, really. Without describing what it’s like to be in a bar on Packer Sunday, tailgating at Miller Park, hanging out at Summerfest (or hell, just the Summerfest grounds) or even what the city is like in the winter, these articles just don’t do the city justice.


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