One need only stroll down the sidewalks of downtown Waukesha to find an array of shopping delights. What's not immediately evident is that downtown was once home to department stores, as well.

The Waukesha County Museum explained that in the 1940s and 1950s, downtown Waukesha was the center of shopping for Waukesha County.

There were traffic jams on Friday nights as workers went to the banks to cash their checks and then shop at the department stores, according to museum staff.

There were many department stores in the downtown. The most prominent were Sears, J. C. Penney, the Metropolitan, the Enterprise and McCoys/Johnson Hills.

However, that all changed when Brookfield Square opened in 1967, luring consumers away, and the downtown lost the big stores.

For more information and to see more photos of what downtown Waukesha used to be like, schedule a visit to the Waukesha County Museum by going online to or by calling (262) 521-2859.

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