About the Neighborhood
From its headwaters in Fond du Lac County, the Milwaukee River meanders slowly, past farms and through villages, to the city that was named for it. The river turns abruptly east as soon as it enters Milwaukee, at Lincoln Park, and inscribes a graceful arc on the landscape until North Avenue, where it bends west again and descends to the lake. Within this easternmost bend, defined neatly by Holton Street, lies the neighborhood called Riverwest. Like the river, it is a venerable part of Milwaukee and, like the river, it is a scene of both constant change and impressive continuity.
What is remarkable about Riverwest is that every group who ever settled in the neighborhood is still there—not the original residents, of course, but their physical or spiritual descendants. You will find a generous scattering of Polish and German families whose ancestors came on the first wave. You will find Italians whose families arrived a generation later. You will find Puerto Ricans in significant numbers. In fact, St. Casimir and St. Mary of Czestochowa Churches have merged to form a new parish named Our Lady of Divine Providence, the patroness of San Juan, Puerto Rico. You will find African Americans, who have created their own distinctive blend of institutions, and you will also find children, and now grandchildren, of the counterculture. Riverwest resembles the United Nations; not everyone eats together, but everyone has a place at the table.
Riverwest is an eclectic neighborhood with strong communal spirit, home to a community-run bar, a community radio station, and a thriving co-op.
Places to Visit
The Riverwest Gardeners Market is dedicated to making fresh, naturally grown, local food accessible to all. On any given Sunday, you can expect to find a plethora of seasonal fruits and vegetables, local honey and eggs, freshly made bread, sweet bakery items, hand crafted body care items, and heaping bouquets of flowers. Sundays 10 am - 3 pm through October 25.
The Beerline trail runs north to south along the western side of the Milwaukee River. The trail is named 'Beerline' because it's located near where many of the old Milwaukee breweries were built. The trail begins at Pleasant Street, just north of Downtown Milwaukee, goes north through Gordon Park, and continues through the Riverwest neighborhood following the path of an old railroad line. Currently the trail extends just north of Capitol Drive to the border between the City of Milwaukee and Glendale.
The Riverwest Co-op is a natural food store and cafe dedicated to providing the community with nutritious food, featuring organic, local, and fair trade products. As a community-based, member-owned, and volunteer-run organization, the Co-op is more than a grocery and cafe, providing a genuinely welcoming community that seeks to create beneficial connections between the producers and people they serve. Open Friday - Wednesday 12 pm - 7 pm.
A collaborative mural in memory of those who were killed by police violence including George Floyd and Dontre Hamilton.
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: A City of Neighborhoods.