You need any proof that Milwaukee—a funky and utterly unpretentious amalgamation of hard (as hell) working blue and white collar—just doesn’t get any respect (a la Cleveland or any other Great Lakes metropolis, for that matter)? For goodness sake, even Milwaukeeans’ Badger siblings down I-94 in Madison  can’t escape ingrained imagery of belching smokestacks and tannery effluvia; yes, honest Madison denizens will admit they picture Milwaukeeans as beer-and-bowling knuckleheads (more on the reverse later).
Milwaukee is decidedly more lunch box than bento box, but that’s only one piece of this wondrous mosaic of half a million with a low-key, rootsy feel. The lingua franca in the city’s older neighborhoods is often a mother tongue peppered with accented English. In fact, you’ll often hear people speak of gemütlichkeit (warmth, hospitality in German) in Milwaukee, and it’s by no means hyperbole. Hang out here long enough and you’ll appreciate it. Hey, the city even rates in the top 5 percent in the nation in arts, attractions, and recreation!
More proof? Well, the Utne Reader and its readers once chose it as “America’s Top Underrated City!” So there!
Oh, and a climatic by-the-way: In every weather report, you’ll hear the tagline “cooler near the lake.” The Great Lakes establish their own microclimates and influence inland areas for miles. Temperatures along littoral stretches endure much less extreme fluctuations than you find in inland communities. A popular local forecasting method is to espy the tear-shaped light atop the Wisconsin Gas Company building downtown: Gold means cold, red means warm, blue means no change, and any color flashing means precipitation is predicted.