It won’t shock you to learn that Milwaukee’s neighborhoods have changed a lot over more than a century’s worth of history. Some of that history is still visible today, like the former gas station that is now a coffee shop in Sherman Park or the reclaimed Victorian homes in the Concordia neighborhood.
Other parts are lost to the pages of time, but they resurface in the pages of historian John Gurda’s latest book. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods is perhaps the definitive neighborhood-by-neighborhood look at the city of Milwaukee.
Gurda's book largely covers the area between Silver Spring on the north to Layton Avenue on the south, west to 60th and east to Lake Michigan. "It is the older part of town, the town developed before World War II, but that is the historic heart of the city," he says.
"(Milwaukee's neighborhoods) are constantly changing," Gurda says. "One generation's 6th Ward is the next generation's Brewers Hill." Active neighborhood associations normally declare a neighborhood's boarders, but "they tend to be more products of perception more than products of law," he says.
Gurda believes if you know about your own neighborhood, you will be curious about others. He hopes to bring parity to neighborhoods and says, "Metcalfe Park and Lindsay Heights are no less than Bay View and North Point."
"We pass through these areas everyday of the week and take them for granted. And seeing how they have evolved, seeing how they are different, seeing how they interrelate, I think can only enrich your experience of the urban life," says Gurda.
Historian John Gurda is the author of twenty-one books, the latest of which is Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods. The book is published by Historic Milwaukee, Inc. You can read a chapter of the book here.