About the Neighborhood
Milwaukee's Menomonee River Valley was once the homeland to Native American tribes, including the Potawatomi. As the city developed into the Machine Shop of the World in the 1800s and 1900s, the Menomonee River Valley was its engine with tens of thousands of jobs. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century companies left the Valley behind, leaving contaminated land and a forgotten river. A community effort brought the Menomonee River Valley a new life with sustainable businesses, some of the largest entertainment destinations in Wisconsin, and 60+ acres of parks and trails.
Today you can fish or kayak in the Menomonee River. Bike or run on the Hank Aaron State Trail. Enjoy life's simple pleasures with a picnic in Three Bridges Park along the Menomonee River. Catch a Major League ballgame, learn about the Harley-Davidson legacy, improve your poker game. See where Milwaukee makes things - things you know, like: pizza, tea, beer, whiskey, and burgers, as well as things that might surprise you: compression garments, wind turbine generators, scents, high end lighting, and railings, and some things you'd never guess: weights sewn into the Olympic luge team's uniforms?! It's all here in the Menomonee River Valley.
Menomonee Valley Bike Tour
Take a self guided tour of public art throughout the Valley and learn the stories behind a variety of pieces—including two new sculptures just recently installed! Bring your own bike or use our promo code for a discounted Bublr Bike rental. Register for free for a Bublr Bike discount code and a link to behind-the-scenes videos from the artists!
When: September 26 - October 11
Where: Throughout the Valley
Places to Visit
Three Bridges Park: Whether it’s the paved trails that wind around sculpted rolling hills or the small oaks that are growing into mighty giants or the stunning views of Milwaukee’s skyline, nature and impressive views await you at every corner of the award-winning Three Bridges Park, a 24-acre urban oasis in the Menomonee River Valley. Located along the Menomonee River between 27th and 37th Streets, Three Bridges Park was once part of a wild rice marsh, then a rail yard, and then a vacant site for decades. Through passion, persistence, and partnership, Three Bridges Park opened in 2013 and is enjoyed by more than 50,000 visitors each year.
People of the Road: People of the Road is a five sculpture landmark, installed between 2019 and 2020, honoring the railroad workers who carried Milwaukee’s name across the country on rails. Richard Taylor, a Milwaukee artist, designed the silhouettes using archived photos from the Milwaukee Road.
A Place to Sit: Milwaukee sculptor Katie E. Martin's piece, "A Place to Sit," is inspired by a quote from local historian John Gurda who characterized European settlement in Milwaukee as a wild "game of musical chairs" leaving the Native Americans with "nowhere to sit." Katie offers three high-backed chairs engraved with the names of tribes who made Milwaukee their home, honoring the spirit and people of Wisconsin’s Native American tribes. The sculpture was installed in 2009.
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.