Milwaukee Neighborhoods


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Milwaukee Neighborhoods

Avenues West

Epicenter: W. Wisconsin Ave. and N. 24th St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Avenues West, like other working-class Milwaukee neighborhoods, has undergone a restoration of sorts since the late 1990s. But unlike Brewers Hill, another formerly maligned nook that lies west of the Milwaukee River, the results of renewal at Avenues West haven't been as evident. Despite a complete overhaul of the '20s-era Ambassador Hotel and the construction of numerous new apartment and condo buildings around the well-respected Marquette University, typical harbingers of gentrification—the organic grocery and coffee house combo—remain absent. Whether the neighborhood wants such development is another question, residents might say the local destinations speak for themselves. Avenues West is home to both the Rave and the Pabst Mansion, two well-loved Milwaukee landmarks. The Rave is a multi-storied concert hall that brings in nationally touring acts on a regular basis, while the Pabst Mansion, an ornate former home of beer baron Frederick Pabst, should be a shrine for Blue Ribbon drinking hipsters everywhere.

Brady Street

Epicenter: E. Brady St. and N. Arlington Pl., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Brady Street began life as a post-Civil War enclave for Polish industrial workers, and though the neighborhood has undergone several cultural mutations, the low-slung, turn-of-the-century architecture continues to define the quirky independence of this east-side Milwaukee neighborhood. Brady Street itself stretches from the lakeshore to the Milwaukee River, with delis, bars, boutiques and Milwaukee nightclubs packing the entire length. Mimma's Café helped pioneer Brady Street's revival in the early '90s, and the Vella family has been operating Peter Sciortino's Bakery for 50 years; both speak to the neighborhood's strong mid-20th century Italian presence. The modern Brady Street's DNA combines its immigrant past with a multi-ethnic yet gentrified populace and throws in a strong dash of the countercultural '60s, to which Brady Street owes its eclectic smoke shops and annual street festival. Nestled a little over a mile from downtown, Brady Street is a signature Milwaukee neighborhood, combining the city's Industrial Revolution origins with a vibrant future.

Brewer's Hill

Epicenter: W. Reservoir Ave. and N. Hubbard St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Planted in an ideal location atop one of the highest spots in the city, Brewer's Hill is a Milwaukee neighborhood formerly blighted by post-World War II suburban immigration. Named for its proximity to the Schlitz Brewing Company, Brewers Hill had been a family neighborhood packed with a proud assortment of Greek Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne homes. These fell into disrepair throughout the '60s and '70s, but a gentrification-driven revival over the last two decades has restored Brewer's Hill to its past stature. Though the neighborhood's revivification has priced out both former and potential residents, there's no denying the Brewer's Hill of today looks and feels the best it has in decades, residentially speaking. Though the neighborhood lacks a nightlife compared to east-side locales across the river, it offers the occasional trendy spot, such as the Roots Restaurant, a farmer-and-chef owned collaboration that specializes in organic ingredients.

East Town

Epicenter: N. Milwaukee St. and E. Mason St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Named one of the best neighborhoods in America to retire, Milwaukee's East Town offers a comfortable yet urban environment with high-rise living, a lakeside walk and nearby parks. Though retirees might be inclined to ensconce themselves in $250,000 condos close to the water, twenty-somethings from elsewhere in the city flock to the East Town neighborhood for clubs like Three and Tangerine, which some claim rival famed hot spots in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for atmosphere, but at half the price (and pretension). For the more mature set, Milwaukee's opera, ballet and symphony can all be found in East Town, as well as well as Jazz in the Park every summer Thursday at Cathedral Square. On a sunny weekend, the two age groups find common ground in the breath-taking lakeside Milwaukee Art Museum. In addition to its solid collections, the Santiago Calatrava-designed exterior continues to astound visitors, from native Wisconsinites to seasoned world travelers.

Third Ward

Epicenter: N. Broadway and E. Chicago St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Tightly packed post-warehouse lofts mark the Third Ward, a Milwaukee neighborhood perched on a peninsular patch south of downtown between the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan. Decades-old yet well-preserved industrial buildings and storehouses have made the Third Ward a magnet for real estate developers looking to buy cheap and renovate. The suitability of resulting rental prices to the bohemian set has driven an influx of artists and made the neighborhoodMilwaukee's gallery hub. Fashion and food have followed; a visitor to the Third Ward can shop for good prices at interior design and antique stores during the day and enjoy a waterside beer at the Milwaukee Ale House at night. Fulfilling its reputation as an artists enclave, the Third Ward's premier seasonal event is the Gallery Night and Day, a Friday-to-Sunday feast for the city's art fanciers held four times a year, with more than 50 venues opening their doors for free wine, cheese and fine art.

Walker's Point

Epicenter: W. National Ave. and S. 1st St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Walker's Point, little cousin to Milwaukee's Third Ward, is a nexus of warehouse-cum-lofts that has recently piggybacked onto the up-and-coming trendiness of its neighbor across the river by referring to itself as the "Fifth Ward." The area has benefitted from the housing boom turning great swaths of industrial land south of Milwaukee's downtown into galleries, nightlife and affordable, attractive housing. Many of Milwaukee's gay bars line 1st and 2nd Streets, the rambunctious main thoroughfares of Walker's Point. At watering holes like Walker's Pint and Mona's, where a fanaticism for the Green Bay Packers blends with ribald costume shows, a visitor will know right away what queer culture in Wisconsin is all about. Though Walker's Point might be at its best on a thumping Saturday night with the clubs going full throttle, one can still refuel the next day in peace and quiet at nearby Mexican restaurants, or Chez Jacques, a highly regarded crêperie.
—Evan Hill