Daniel Webster Hoan was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin on March 12, 1881. Studying at night, he became a lawyer in 1908, and moved to Milwaukee where he worked with Victor Berger, editor of the radical socialist missive, The Milwaukee Leader.

Hoan worked to a number of reforms in the city, including municipal ownership of utilities, urban renewal programs, and free legal, medical and educational services. In 1910, Emil Seidel was elected mayor, the first socialist leader of a major US city, and a year later, Hoan became Milwaukee's city attorney. In 1917, Hoan himself won the mayoral election, and held the post for the next 24 years; the longest continuous socialist administration in US history.

As mayor, Hoan continued the efforts to eliminate curruption from Milwaukee politics that he began during his tenure as city attorney. Hoan introduced and expanded a vast array of city services, including street lighting, sewage disposal and water purification, and fought commercial development of Milwaukee's lakefront.

After abandoning the Socialist Party for the Democrats in 1943, Hoan lost two bids to become Governor in 1944 and 1946. In 1948, Hoan lost the Milwaukee mayoral election to the socialist candidate, Frank Zeidler.

Daniel Webster Hoan died in 1961, and was memorialized in 1977 with the opening of the Hoan Bridge, which not only links downtown Milwaukee with portions of the harbor he worked to improve, but also passes directly above the city's sewage treatment plant, providing a rich olfactory reminder of the many municipal services he pioneered.

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