Iconic 'Bear on a Tightrope' statue returning home to The Avenue, inside new 3rd Street Market

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The Milwaukee Public Market and 3rd St. Market Hall announced Wednesday, Dec. 29, a collaborative effort to return the beloved Professor Stein, also known as the “Bear on a Tightrope,” home to The Avenue.

According to a news release, in 2013, Professor Stein was resurrected from hibernation and rehomed at the Milwaukee Public Market to pay homage to an adored piece of Milwaukee history. The redevelopment of The Avenue, along with the resurgence of West Wisconsin Avenue, created an opportunity for Professor Stein to return to his original location inside the new 3rd St. Market Hall.

“The homecoming of Professor Stein celebrates an iconic period of Milwaukee history,” stated Omar Shaikh from 3rd St. Market Hall. “The intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and 3rd Street will once again return to its prestigious roots. Professor Stein’s returned residency at 3rd St Market Hall will remind visitors and Milwaukeeans alike of its past while cementing its future.”

The news release goes on to say, in 1982, The Rouse Company developed the Grand Avenue Mall with traditional German influences featuring a whimsical 7’ bear dressed in a top hat and suit coat, riding along a tightrope on a unicycle. He was a huge tourist attraction, and many people fondly remember seeing him upon their visits to the Grand Avenue Mall. When Northwestern Mutual Life redeveloped the mall in 2004, the bear came down and went into hibernation.

“We’ve been proud to offer a temporary home to Professor Stein for the last 9 years at the Public Market, where we’ve curated other relics that engender a sense of nostalgia and appreciation for our city,” said Paul Schwartz, executive director of the Milwaukee Public Market and Business Improvement District #2. “The Professor’s ‘homecoming’ is a great symbol of a reenergized Avenue development and we look forward to exploring what will take his place at the Market.”

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