Milwaukee Renumbering and Street Name Changes


Milwaukee underwent a street renumbering program in 1930/1931. Because of this, it is usually difficult to find a pre-1930 address in the correct placement on a current map.


The Wright’s Milwaukee City Directory of 1931 indicated:

“The north and south base line division is N First St, the Milwaukee River, S First St, and S Chase Ave, while the harbor entrance, Menomonee River, W Canal St and W Fairview Ave constitute the east and west base line.  All streets north and south of the east and west base line bear the prefix “North” or “South,” respectively, while all streets running east or west of the north and south base line bear the prefix “East” or “West.”


“All houses and buildings are numbered on a basis of one number for each fifteen feet of property frontage, starting at the base line with the number 100, and continuing with consecutive hundreds at each street intersection, wherever possible.  Where only one number is available for any house or building, and such house has an upper portion or the property a rear house, the same number is used, including the suffix “A,” “B,” “C,” etc. as required.”


The 1930 Wright’s Directory, we understand, had a “Wright’s Street  Guide Supplement to 1930 Milwaukee City Directory” that might include old and new numerical comparisons.  The Wright’s Milwaukee City Directory of 1931 for a few streets showed old and new house number equivalents.


How our tables were generated:

The files we generated are from street name changes in the 1929, 1930, and 1931 Milwaukee City directories, street name changes on a 1930 Milwaukee Journal Tour Club map, and transcriptions of the 1929 cross street addresses.  We used the 1929 Directory as the base source of street names and sequences.  If such names and sequences were different in the 1931 directory, we *ignored* the new sequence or the new compass modifiers of a street.   We tried to show the old-new names, as well as renumbering.  We transcribed the starting address of each block for streets that crossed more than one block, and that appeared to have (in 1929) the “old” numbering system.  If a street name does not appear in our table, it is because it was either one block long or did not have a renumbering between 1929 and 1931, or its name was changed and it is in a different part of the table.  If we missed renumbered streets, let us know and we will correct the table, but as of early February 2005 we are still constructing this utility.  Again, the primary emphasis was on the placement of 1929 addresses within their cross-streets.  On some streets it appeared that the 1931 renumbering was in the opposite sequence than the original numbering; in that case, a range of addresses found between the two cross streets are shown. This usually happened when a street was broken up into East and West (or North and South) segments, with the low #  (100) in the middle of the old sequence,  and new numbers going higher in both directions toward the two ends.  We do not show the new compass modifiers for these streets, but you should be able to figure this out from a current map.


To use the utility, let’s use an example of 993 Bremen, an address from 1925.


  1. You would choose the table link that contained the “B” street names.
  2. You would find the box that encloses Bremen on the table.
  3. You would look on Column 1 for a house number equal or greater than 993.
  4. Looking at the table, you would find that 987 Bremen was the first address between Clarke and Center pre-1930s, and 1054 Bremen was the first address between Center and Hadley.  You can see these cross streets in column 3.  They should be in sequence.
  5. From (4) you would know that your address (993) was between Clarke and Center, that is, between (or equal to) 987 to 1053.
  6. Column 2 shows the lowest address of each of these same blocks in 1931.  You would see that the block that started with 987 Bremen was, in 1931, starting with 2604 Bremen.  Quite a difference in numbers!!!  But note that the cross-streets are the same.
  7. Note that the numbers in the first and second columns do NOT necessarily refer to the same house.  It’s possible a house was built on a vacant lot during the period between the city directories, and might change the number of the first house on the block.


If we show street name changes, the old name is in Column 1 and the new name is in Column 2.