Daniel W. Hoan, Class of 1906

Former Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin   

Daniel W. HoanDaniel Hoan was mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1916 to 1940, leading what is generally considered to be the longest continuous Socialist administration in United States history. Born in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1881, he graduated from Chicago-Kent in 1906, began practicing law in 1908 and became Milwaukee’s city attorney in 1910. As city attorney, he clamped down on the corruption of public officials and in 1916, he was elected mayor of Milwaukee, becoming the city’s second Socialist mayor.

Hoan served as mayor of Milwaukee for 24 years and brought in a number of progressive reforms during his tenure. The country’s first public housing project, Garden Homes, was built in 1923 and Hoan led the successful drive towards municipal ownership of the stone quarry, street lighting, sewage disposal and water purification. Overall, he developed a reputation for honest and efficient government. A 1936 Time Magazine article wrote, “Republicans and Democrats have virtually lost their separate identities in uniting to oppose him. Yet Daniel Webster Hoan remains one of the nation’s ablest public servants, and under him Milwaukee has become perhaps the best-governed city in the U. S.”

He was eventually defeated for re-election in 1941 and ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for governor in 1944 and 1946. Although he was defeated when he ran for mayor of Milwaukee once again in 1948, fifty years later, a group of experts on local government voted Hoan as the eighth best mayor in American history. He passed away in 1961 and the Hoan Bridge on Milwaukee’s lakefront stands as an ongoing monument to his legacy.


Photo credit: Milwaukee Historical Society