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20 Years of Creative Transformation in the Menomonee River Valley

  • Menomonee Valley Community Park 212 South 36th Street Milwaukee, WI (map)

Join Menomonee Valley Partners and Doors Open Milwaukee as we walk along the Hank Aaron State Trail and tell the surprising story about how this revitalization unfolded, from kids who wanted a place to play soccer to the first park built by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. We’ll visit the Menomonee Valley Community Park, Valley Passage, Three Bridges Park, and North Bank Trail – hearing numerous examples of collaboration and creative problem-solving along the way.

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This year marks 20 years since Menomonee Valley Partners was formed and celebrates 20 years of transformation in the Menomonee River Valley. While it’s becoming known for its trails and parkspaces, the district was once a drain on the community and was known for abandoned buildings, contaminated land, and a certain smell. Efforts to revitalize the Valley began in earnest in the 1990s with a 133-acre parcel (about the size of 100 football fields) just east of Miller Park.

The community looked at the former Milwaukee Road railroad shops, the site of 125 years of heavy industry, and asked that it become a hub for family-sustaining jobs with green spaces where animals would thrive and children could play.

This area had been ignored by the real estate community because of a long list of challenges—poor access, lack of infrastructure, frequent flooding, unstable soil conditions, derelict buildings, and soil contamination. Thanks to the many partners behind the scenes who donned their (very) creative thinking caps, this area transformed more than anyone expected. It is now home to the Menomonee Valley Industrial Center and Community Park, Three Bridges Park, the Hank Aaron State Trail, and dozens of species of native plants and wildlife. Community input, weeks of brainstorming, and flexibility from some of our largest state agencies made this possible.

The tour will start and end by the People of the Road sculptures in the Menomonee Valley Community Park. The tour is accessible and is 1.5 miles in distance.

We’re a proud partner of Doors Open Milwaukee, a program of Historic Milwaukee, Inc.

Doors Open Milwaukee is a two-day public celebration of Milwaukee’s art, architecture, culture and history. This event offers behind the scenes tours of more than 170 buildings throughout Milwaukee’s downtown and neighborhoods and 30+ ticketed tours led by community leaders.

Earlier Event: September 27
20 Years of Transformation Luncheon
Later Event: September 28
Doors Open