All this week, WUWM News is exploring recent efforts to revitalize what was once a key thoroughfare through the city, but one which fell into decline decades ago. The Milwaukee River once was the catalyst for commerce and industry during the city's formative years and also provided recreation for the people who moved here. However, disregard for the river's health led to decades of decay.
We now continue our series about the revival of the Milwaukee River.
As we reported earlier, the City of Milwaukee exists here because of the river. It, with its mouth in Lake Michigan, supported commerce and industry in the early days, and provided recreation. However, no one tended the health of the river, so it decayed; and manufacturers left its banks, as trains and trucks replaced boats. The community abandoned the ailing Milwaukee River for decades, but a turnaround began in the 80s. The city initiated improvements, including Riverwalk, and worked with developers.
If you want to view a thriving strip of the City of Milwaukee – hop a boat and cruise the Milwaukee River. New housing and repurposed old buildings line the waterfront and its adjoining neighborhoods. Most vessels that cruise the river these days are not the working types of generations past, but rather pleasure boats.
We’ve been learning about the contribution Wisconsinites made, 150 years ago, to the Union cause in the American Civil War. It was a significant contribution - and sacrifice, despite Wisconsin’s relatively recent entry into the union and its distance from the battlefield.