About the Neighborhood
It's an old neighborhood that grew out of an even older one. Clarke Square developed in the late 1800s, when Walker's Point residents began moving west to new homes along the southern edge of the Menomonee Valley. They found a small square of public green space waiting for them, an untended park that would one day give the community its name. There has been a constant procession of groups through Clarke Square, but the neighborhood's most important quality has not changed at all: diversity.
Eight thousand neighbors live, work, worship, play, and study in the Clarke Square neighborhood on Milwaukee’s near southside. A small but dense neighborhood, Clarke Square comprises approximately 45 square city blocks of residential properties, two linear miles of commercial and mixed-use properties along four principal commercial corridors, and over 60 acres of publicly accessible green space.
The mission of Clarke Square Neighborhood is to create a strong neighborhood with a variety of homes, public spaces, safe streets, landmark places (schools, churches, community centers, parks) and strong business community to create a vibrant, diverse neighborhood.
On November 15, 2005, the City of Milwaukee created the Cesar E. Chavez Drive Business Improvement District for the purpose of revitalizing and improving the Cesar E. Chavez Drive business area on Milwaukee's Near South Side.
Cesar Chavez Drive is the heart of Milwaukee’s southside community, a unique shopping and tourist destination by creating an improved cultural image through the installation of public art and space activation. Formerly known as 16th Street, it was renamed to honor the legacy of Cesar E. Chavez, activist and labor leader (Co-founder of the United Farmworkers). Cesar Chavez Drive is located between National Avenue and Greenfield Avenue on Chavez Drive. A vibrant commercial corridor with nearly 50 small businesses in retail, restaurants, financial services, and arts.
Places to Visit
Explore one of Milwaukee’s oldest designed parks–which was also the site of its earliest European settlement. Mitchell Park’s location overlooking the Menomonee River was chosen by French fur trader Jacques Vieau as an outpost. This park has boasted designs by Warren H. Manning, a colleague of Frederick Law Olmsted who consulted with Milwaukee’s Park Commission for a decade. Mitchell Park well known as the home to the historic trio of glasshouses called the Domes.
Casar Chavez Drive Art Tour
Visit this bustling commercial corridor and check out amazing art, delicious restaurants, and more. Here's just some of the art you will see!
- Isabel Castro’s mural “Tejiendo Raices” at 1017 S Cesar Chavez Drive
- CK Ledesma’s mural “Si Se Puede” at 1000 S Cesar Chavez Drive
- Mauricio Ramirez’s mural in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center at 1032 S Cesar E Chavez Dr
- Elliot Paterson’s mural “United Farm Workers” at S Cesar Chavez Drive and Washington
- Cesar Chavez sculpture located outside El Ray on S Cesar Chavez Drive
Guidelines for Visiting Neighborhoods
While Historic Milwaukee is not opening buildings and sites to tour this year, we still encourage you to visit these recommended neighborhood locations for self-guided experiences. When visiting neighborhood locations please follow the mask ordinance - wear a mask and maintain social distance and respect residents and neighbors.
Special thanks to artist CK Ledesma who designed and created the Doors Open Neighborhoods Activity pages. Thanks also to the neighborhood leaders to contributed information and recommendations on things to do and places to see in their neighborhoods. And thank you to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation for their support of the Activity Booklet. About the neighborhood source: John Gurda's: Milwaukee City of Neighborhoods and Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative.