The Streets of Old Milwaukee opened in January 1965 to record crowds as the first major exhibit in the current Museum building. Since then, millions of Museum goers have strolled down its darkened, gaslit lanes, peered into the windows of its twenty-five shops, businesses, eating and drinking establishments, and paid their respects to Granny patiently rocking on the front porch of one of two residences to grace the Streets of Old Milwaukee (the other being the Watson Family Home, a tribute to one of Milwaukee's first prominent African American families).
Buildings in the Streets of Old Milwaukee are represented at about three-quarters size or less. The streets are constructed from three different styles of paving: granite blocks originally from Buffalo Street, red bricks, and cedar blocks. Sidewalks made from wood planks complete the effect.
Fully as important as the buildings themselves are their contents. In addition to the artifacts from the museum's own collections, the Streets contain extensive materials generously donated by the community.