Regenerating the Landscape, Reconnecting the Community
A vision for the Menomonee River Valley.
By David Boyd
William Wenk, Wenk Associates Inc.
Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee. When we hear these names
our minds are often filled with images of billowing smokestacks,
busy rail yards, and lines of dungareeclad workers-the "lunch
bucket brigades"filing into gray, grim factories. These cities
are symbolic of the great industrial age that shaped this country
and helped to define the United States as an economic superpower.
However, in today's climate of global industrialization, these great
cities and many others like them have largely been reduced to relics
of "the rustbelt." We are left with the difficult chore of transforming
the workforce, rebuilding our neighborhoods, and cleaning up the
mess left by decades of environmentally irresponsible activities.
The Menomonee River Valley was once the heart of Milwaukee. Two
and a half miles long and covering more than 750 acres, the valley
runs parallel to and just south of Interstate 94. Since the construction
of the interstate in the mid-1960s, visitors arriving at the western
edge of downtown were greeted by the sight of Milwaukee County Stadium,
home to baseball's 1957 world champion Milwaukee Braves (and later
the Milwaukee Brewers), and the scent of some of the valley's more
noxious industries. Today, County Stadium is gone, replaced by the
ultramodern Miller Park. And the stench is gone, too, thanks to
the recent closing of one particularly offensive factory. But these
changes didn't occur overnight. In fact, the changes in this area
of the city are the result of more than 20 years of public discourse
about what to do with the valley.
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