A documentary about Milwaukee's Brady Street neighborhood will showcase the commercial center's rich history

Brady Street historian Frank Alioto is interviewed for an upcoming historical documentary on Milwaukee's Brady Street neighborhood.
Brady Street historian Frank Alioto is interviewed for an upcoming historical documentary on Milwaukee's Brady Street neighborhood.

A film about Milwaukee's East Brady Street neighborhood is in the works, with production continuing through next year and a planned release in early 2024.

The historical documentary will take viewers through the history of Brady Street, from pre-European settlement to the post-pandemic period, according to an announcement from the Brady Street Business Improvement District.

For much of its existence, Brady Street was the commercial center for a neighborhood that included large numbers of immigrants from Poland and Italy who worked in nearby tanneries and other businesses.

In the 1960s and '70s, Brady Street evolved into a counter-culture center that included bars and other businesses catering to younger people. They joined such longstanding retailers as Peter Sciortino's Bakery and Glorioso's Italian Market.

By the '80s, the street was seeing several vacant storefronts.

A new wave of investment and development brought such landmarks as Mimma's Cafe (which opened in 1989 and closed in 2016) and The Passeggio retail center, which was built in 1997 and includes such businesses as Apollo Café and Balzac Wine Bar.

Brady Street's current prominent businesses include The Diplomat restaurant, Nomad World Pub and Middle Eastern restaurant Casablanca.

Meanwhile, another new era could be coming as a study is in the works that could recommend closing Brady Street to cars.

UW-Milwaukee film students will get 'real-life' experience on Brady Street documentary

The documentary will feature local historians, Brady Street residents and people who have had a major impact on the area's development sharing their personal experiences and families’ stories, according to the announcement.

The project is being led by Sean Kafer, director of docUWM, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s documentary media center.

It amounts to an opportunity for UWM film students "to get real-life research and production experience and prepare them for post-graduate life," Kafer said.

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"Collaborating with real clients is something you can't teach in the classroom,” Kafer said, in a statement.

“This documentary is an excellent way to showcase the rich history and community of Brady Street," said Erin Hastings, a film production assistant and Brady Street Business Improvement District intern.

"Not only am I beyond excited to watch this project unfold for myself, but also I can’t wait to share these chronicles of Brady Street with the public," Hastings said, in a statement. "Together we can keep a fundamental part of history alive by listening to the diverse experiences and insights of the residents who have made Brady Street what it is today."

More information about the project and its fundraising events can be found at https://bradystreet.org/brady-street-history/.

Tom Daykin can be emailed at tdaykin@jrn.com and followed on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Brady Street historical documentary in production for 2024 release