The Democratic National Convention has had an interesting week of virtual politics and entertainment, bringing people across the country together on screen. In Milwaukee, where the convention was originally set to take place in person, officials are pondering what could have been had all those delegates converged on the city. WGBH News Host Henry Santoro spoke with Milwaukee Public Radio reporter Maayan Silver about how the city's officials and residents have responded to the loss. The transcript has been edited for clarity.

Henry Santoro: The DNC was a big event for Milwaukee to lose, with some 50,000 people hoping to make their way to your city. I would imagine that the hotels and restaurants were anxiously awaiting for their arrival.

Maayan Silver: Yes, 100 percent. People were expecting tons of customers in bars and restaurants. Milwaukee is known as now a good city for food, kind of like Boston. There would've been gigs for local musicians. It would've been right after a week-long music event on the lake called Summer Fest. And we were expecting an economic impact of about $200 million.

Santoro: And it's not just a matter of the economy either. Like you said, there were cultural events that really embrace the city when an event like this takes place, right?

Silver: 100 percent. So from the cultural standpoint, I've spoken with some people who talk about how Milwaukee is in the process of shedding its Rust Belt image and that people may not see it yet as the cosmopolitan city that it is, including State Rep. LaKeshia Myers, who's also a Biden delegate this year.

Clip of Rep. LaKeshia Myers: "They may think of, 'Oh, well, that's where Laverne and Shirley was, and that's where Fonzie was and that's where beer is produced.' Yes, we have that part of our past that we most definitely are proud of. But I think Milwaukee has a lot to offer when you look at the growing up of Milwaukee, if you will, or the transition of Milwaukee."

Santoro: Well, it's a great food town [and] it's a great sports town. There's so much that that city has to offer. What was the response from delegates and others in Milwaukee surrounding the shift from a live, in-person convention to a virtual one?

Silver: Obviously, delegates and many others were just really disappointed. I talked to one delegate. Her name's Deidre Query, who's from Milwaukee. She sort of summed it up for a lot of people.

Clip of Deidre Query: "I just think it's just like being a kid on Christmas. This is like somebody canceling Christmas — you've been good all year, you wrote your letter and then somebody cancels Christmas. That's a lot to deal with."

Silver: It was a real disappointment, but even Query herself talked about how having the convention virtually is the responsible thing to do. And she called it the new frontier, saying that Gen-Z, millennials and younger folks are already in the virtual world, and we just kind of all have to go along with it.

Santoro: Would this have been the first convention, Democratic convention or Republican convention, that Milwaukee has seen?

Silver: Definitely. The mayor of Milwaukee, Mayor Tom Barrett, really likes to emphasize that point. And he's confirming the fact that Milwaukee has never been chosen to host a major political convention before this. The city was really expecting a big pomp and circumstance, a lot of attention, spotlight and hopefully the ability to host conventions for years going forward.

Santoro: The expectation was to host, as we had said earlier, 50,000 people and, as you said, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars with much of it happening at the Wisconsin Center. Is anything happening there now?

Silver: Honestly, Milwaukee's downtown is sort of a ghost town right now, especially near the Wisconsin Center where the DNC had been slated to be. Really, there's very little happening at the Wisconsin Center. There's the occasional pedestrian, birds chirping, street parking is off limits so streets are pretty empty. There's a big security perimeter surrounding the center. And it's really interesting. It's pretty dead.