Empty Hotels, Closed Bars and No Crowds: Milwaukee During the DNC

Empty Hotels, Closed Bars and No Crowds: Milwaukee During the DNC


This was supposed to be Milwaukee’s week in the sun.

When it was picked last March to host the Democratic National Convention—the biggest city in a state the Democrats are desperately hoping to claim back from Donald Trump—local leaders and businesspeople strapped in for the excitement the four-day mega-event would bring. Local politicians got ready for the national spotlight. So did protesters. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

In June, the DNC said its convention would be scaled back, and in July, it announced that it would go completely virtual. No longer would swarms of speakers, delegates, journalists and others flock to Wisconsin, filling the downtown restaurants, hotels and the breweries Milwaukee is famous for. Celebrities and VIPs would be staying home. “A gut punch,” said a local steakhouse owner to NPR. “A virtual convention is about as nourishing for its host city as a virtual bratwurst is to a hungry man,” wrote a Milwaukee author in The New York Times.



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