Milwaukee’s colorful past, more interesting than the history of many heartland cities, is being examined in a series of profusely illustrated books from Arcadia Publishing. Larry Widen, whose previous book examined Milwaukee cinemas, contributes a look at the city’s flourishing cultural milieu through the mid-20th century. During those years Houdini headlined in Milwaukee at the Majestic Theatre, museums sprouted along Wisconsin Avenue and Downtown was crowded with theaters, concert halls and exhibition buildings, many of them architecturally fabulous. Frank Alioto remembers Brady Street’s early ethnic history, its role as a thriving business district and, in the 1960s, mecca for the local counterculture. The pictures in both books are fascinating photo albums of Milwaukee’s past.