MANITOWOC, Wisc., (WFRV) – As communities emerge from the pandemic, some are hoping to survive, others are planning to thrive.Historic Downtown Manitowoc looks like a construction site lately as work continues for a new beautification project along 8th Street. A new fountain will soon welcome visitors and regulars alike just steps from the Maritime Museum.For Mayor Justin Nickels, now in his fourth term, it is the realization of his vision for a more densely populated downtown.“If you look at where we are on 8th Street near Maritime, this is where the city began,” Nickels told Local Five’s Michele McCormack in the first installment of her new series “Street Cred” on Local 5 News. “Manitowoc would not be here today if it were not for the confluence of the Manitowoc River and Lake Michigan.”
But then the entire community celebrated when it won a major contract with the Navy at the start of World War II.
“So they had to learn to build submarines really fast,” explained retired UWGB Manitowoc history professor Kerry Trask. “And with so many going into military forces they had to find people and they employed a lot of women as welders and machinists.”
Trask says folks would line the shoreline to see them launch the submarines. 28 in all that was ahead of schedule and under budget.
“Every time a submarine was launched they had to launch them sideways because the river was too narrow,” Trask says. “The whole town showed up and closed down. It was a rallying point. Nobody thought you could do it. It is in many ways the Manitowoc’s finest hour.”