harbor

Susan Bence

Before the City of Milwaukee was the Milwaukee we know, it was a massive marsh and wetland system fed by the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers. By the 1850s, the wetlands were filled in and replaced by factories and foundries. By some miracle, one small bit of wetland – now called the Grand Trunk - survived along the harbor’s south central edge.

Despite the channelized Kinnickinnic River just to the wetland's west, endangered garter snakes and other native critters are still found in the 6.5 degraded acres.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Many people have not ventured into the harbor district, just south of downtown in the Walker's Point neighborhood.  The City of Milwaukee wants to change that. 

UWM’S School of Freshwater Sciences’ expanded facility where Greenfield Ave. meets the harbor was a first step.  Next came Freshwater Plaza at 1st and Greenfield with apartments and a grocery store. Now artist Nova Czarnecki’s mural is transforming the face of the old railroad bridge between the two.

Harbor District Inc. commissioned the project.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

A collection of artistically decorated pontoons, some carrying artfully adorned people and puppets, will launch  tomorrow (Saturday) from the Bruce Street Ramp. They will converge with boats and paddlers for the inaugural Milwaukee Boat Parade. It is part of another first-ever event, Harbor Fest.

CITY AS LIVING LABORATORY

The City of Milwaukee is putting the finishing touches on a water and land use plan to help guide the future of the harbor’s 1,000 water-edged acres. The idea is to combine a robust working function while also breathing vitality into areas where there currently is none.

Lots of ideas are floating around.

Enter a New-York based artist by the name of Mary Miss. She uses the environment in unexpected and artful ways to draw people to outdoor spaces.

Harbor District, Inc

Planners believe the Milwaukee Harbor District's 1,000 watery acres are oozing with potential. Its revitalization tops the city’s sustainability plan.

An organization called Harbor District, Inc was created to encourage the input of “big idea” types who articulate blending everything from environmental cleanup with economic development.

Courtesy of Tetra Tech EM Inc.

Update:

A bankruptcy judge Tuesday approved the sale of the former Milwaukee Solvay Coke & Gas Company site to Wisconsin Gas LLC, a We Energies affiliate. It was the only bidder, offering $4 million for the 47-acre parcel.

We Energies is among several businesses that are responsible for the site's environmental cleanup. The utility used to operate a gas works there years ago.

Before previous owner Golden Marina filed for bankruptcy, it had hoped to create housing and a marina there.

Quorum Architects and Ayres Associates

Update: 

Quorum Architects - Ayres Associates has been named winner of Harbor District, Inc.'s Take Me to the River Design Competition.

According to the selection committee, Quorum's Slosh Park project was selected for its "elements that would make for an interesting and engaging space" as well as for "most effectively balanc[ing] several [of the project's] goals."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for breakwaters around the country, including the Great Lakes.  

The structures calm the waters within them to allow ships and smaller vessels to navigate safely, but take quite a beating, given shifting lake levels and seasonal storms.   

The usual "fix" is to install big boulders, 6 to 10-feet in size, to reinforce failing stretches of breakwater.

S Bence

Milwaukee's harbor district appears to be a jumbled mix of old industrial buildings, ship docks, railroad tracks and a sewage treatment plant. But the City is brewing up a plan to transform the 1,000 water-edged acres.

Today, you see glimmers of transformation. An apartment building rising at 1st and Washington. Freshwater Plaza popping up, complete with grocery store and office space.

S Bence

Milwaukee’s Harbor District is only a short walk from the trendy Third Ward, but it might as well be in a different state. But momentum is building to reinvigorate the district.

A few months ago, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city $200,000 to push revitalization forward. And recently, a nonprofit, called Harbor District, Inc., officially formed to help coordinate the process.

S Bence

Currently, Milwaukee's inner harbor is not an inviting space. But change is brewing.

Eddee Daniel

Milwaukee's Inner Harbor was once home to 10,000 acres of wetland. Today, just a minuscule remnant remains and it is slated for restoration. 

S Bence

Restoring Milwaukee's inner harbor, both environmentally and economically, is a top priority in the city's ReFreshMKE sustainability plan. A handful of people want to help jump start the project.