Gertie the Duck (Gillen)

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Gertie the Duck
Artist Gwendolyn Gillen
Year 1997 (1997)
Location Milwaukee
Coordinates 43°2′19″N 87°54′37″W / 43.03861°N 87.91028°W / 43.03861; -87.91028

Gertie the Duck is a public artwork by American artist Gwendolyn Gillen, located on the Wisconsin Avenue bridge, which is in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. It is a 4-foot tall bronze statue of a mallard duck, which was installed on the Wisconsin Avenue bridge in September 1997.


Gertie the Duck is a bronze statue of a mallard duck created by sculptor Gwendolyn Gillen. The original cost of the sculpture was $15,000, and it was given to the city by the Eppstein Uhen Architects firm and installed in September 1997.[1][2]

Historical information[edit]

Gertie the Duck, the Symbol of Hope, was a mallard duck that lived under the Wisconsin Avenue bridge during World War II. During this time, people only heard depressing news about the war and the lives lost. Gertie the Duck was thought to be the Symbol of Hope because while all this devastation was going on in the world, she was attending to her nest of unhatched chicks. This reminded people of the preciousness and fragility of life. Gertie became an instant local and international sensation. She was photographed by the Milwaukee Journal, featured in Life Magazine, and even had a front page story in a London paper. People were very compassionate towards the mallard and even postponed a replacement job on the bridge where she lived. When a careless smoker accidentally set fire to her nest, the Humane Society hired a guard to protect Gertie. She even received letters and poems on Mother's day. Eventually, Gertie and her young chicks had to relocate. They were relocated to Juneau Park on a fire engine that was escorted by a marching band. It is estimated that about three million people came to Milwaukee to see Gertie and her ducklings.

Location history[edit]

The statue of Gertie the Duck is located on the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge. This is the perfect spot for the statue because this is where Gertie was first spotted in 1945. This is also the location where her chicks were hatched.


  1. ^ "Milwaukee, WI - Gertie the Duck, Symbol of Hope." Roadside America - Guide to Uniquely Odd Tourist Attractions. Web. 18 May 2011.
  2. ^ Ratterman, Bob. "Memories of the 1940's (1999-2004 Archive): WWII Gertie the Milwaukee Duck." Youth Net - Oxford Press, 13 May 1999. Web. 18 May 2011.