Mystery Of The Allen-Bradley Octagon
ŠTed Schaar 2008

A-B Trademark circa 20018

Why does an octagon symbolize Allen-Bradley (now Rockwell Automation), one of Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s great assets?

Octagons see a lot of use in stop signs but otherwise are not common.

There is no doubt that the Allen-Bradley trademark symbolizes wonderful things, from the superb reputation for quality it has helped the city earn around the world among electrical and manufacturing engineers and technicians particularly but also industrialists and other business people to the prosperity it has brought in terms of commerce and employment.

Longtime Milwaukee-area resident Rich Cieslak remembered, “When I was growing up on the south side in the 1950s and '60s, Allen-Bradley was the place everyone wanted to work.” 

Thousands of United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America Local 1111 members and other laborers, from assemblers to punch press operators, have made their livings under the octagon along with thousands of management employees, from accountants to scientists.

Then there is the astonishing philanthropy.  A generous portion of the wealth the octagon helped bring Lynde (rhymes with “mind”) and Harry Bradley—who went into business in 1903 with the financial backing of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Stanton Allen—and their families was given back to the community and its citizens.

More than a half century ago, Harry’s Milwaukee Journal obituary reported that by the time he died in July 1965 the Allen-Bradley Foundation had “contributed more than seven million dollars to hospitals, medical research laboratories, educational institutions, and established charitable organizations.”

The foundation, according to the article, was established to “honor the memory” of Lynde, who died of cancer in 1942.  Lynde’s widow, Caroline, joined Harry in supplying funding.   Now known as the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, it is one of America’s major charitable organizations, though in recent decades it has become known for it right-wing politics.