When one thinks about bricks, which color is the most likely to come up? More than likely, red is the color that will be thought of. And for the most part, this would be an accurate assessment. However, bricks do not only come in the color red.
The Unique Architecture of Milwaukee
A trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin can reveal something distinct about its architecture. One will notice the light yellow tint in many of its buildings. Many buildings in Milwaukee are constructed with cream-colored bricks, known as "cream city bricks".
The bricks get their cream tint from the soil. Cream City bricks are made from the local clay found in the Menomonee River Valley and the Greater Milwaukee area. The clay used to manufacture these bricks do not start out with a light yellow hue. The clay is originally red. The composition of the soil plays a major factor. Clay from the Milwaukee area/Menomonee River Valley contains high levels of lime and sulfur. Once these bricks are put through fire in the manufacturing process, the colors change from red to cream/light yellow.
Cream City Bricks
In addition to its light hue, the structure of Cream City bricks makes them famous, and sought after. Cream City bricks are well-reputed for being durable. When made the right way, they have a high level of durability. Because of this, these bricks have been highly sought after for construction purposes. Buildings constructed as far back as the 1850s still have their original bricks. For the city of Milwaukee, Cream City bricks While Milwaukee has many buildings that use them, these bricks have been exported to cities such as Chicago, New York City, and even as far away as Hamburg, Germany.
With the high durability of these bricks, there is also a disadvantage. Cream City bricks have high porosity. This means the bricks will absorb pollutants easily. As the bricks absorb pollutants, they turn darker in color over time. Chemical washing has been used to clean the bricks.
Milwaukee's nickname "the Cream City" is not related to the dairy industry for which the state of Wisconsin in known for. "Cream City" reflects the cream-colored buildings the city of Milwaukee. Buildings that have been constructed of cream-colored bricks. The bricks themselves are a product of the region's soil composition, and have proven to be durable.