• Nicole Reinders

Milwaukee: Avenues and Alleyways

My home is situated between Downer Avenue and UW-Milwaukee's campus. It is an ideal location as it allows for a short bike ride to the lake and an even shorter walk to the nearest shops and eateries located on the avenue. My neighborhood is filled with single families and some college students, providing a quiet setting and a close-knit feel to the area. Similarly, to my community, Milwaukee encompass many of these pockets in which a distinct identity is erected. The Upper East Side is drastically different than downtown or even the South Side. The alleys and avenues encompass the heart of these districts while also providing a passage way, marker, and a tool for blending these neighborhoods into one distinct city.

A film to demonstrate exactly what Milwuakee is.

The concept of alleys and avenues started with the notion that these paths bridge the gap between districts and provide a pathway to traverse, of which to get from one to another. The blending of these neighborhoods is provided through these passageways, also allowing for people to come together and converse, shop, sightsee, and be entertained. “A path has directional quality where one may be able to sense one’s position along the total length, to grasp the distance traversed or yet to go,”[1] and in most cases it provides access to an experience.

In Nicole Loves Milwaukee, I make use of this experience as I take you on a comprehensive tour throughout the city by engaging with the avenues and alleyways. Starting with the Upper East Side and continuing downward until ending up in the Historic Third Ward, we use the traverse ways to engage with the cultural experience evoked in each of these locations. We begin with a lazy stroll along Downer Ave, past the Pancake House and Café Hollander, where I eat brunch almost every Sunday after church, to Boswell Books and Starbucks. We cut to an alleyway of the surrounding neighborhood, the plants popping up between the brick cobbled streets making the strike of our foot impact the ground with a softer sound. Going south, we find ourselves on the corner of Farwell and North, the feeling a little different, busier and louder, with more cars, people, bikers, and buses taking the forefront of our senses. We stop into Black Cat Alley, admiring the graffiti on the walls and the live music wafting softly our way. We head down to Brady Street, taking cover from the drunks and partiers in the alleyways, although it's not much different as the scent of smoke and liquor still fill our noses.

"The blending of these neighborhoods is provided through these passageways, also allowing for people to come together and converse, shop, sightsee, and be entertained."

We later find ourselves on Wisconsin Avenue, the hustle and bustle of the city becoming more prominent. Shops and bars fill the bottom spaces of tall skyscrapers that invite people to invite and stay awhile, although it’s mostly just those from Marquette University and those taking the bus. Finally, our last stop is the Historic Third Ward which houses higher end shops and eateries and on any given Sunday the sidewalks are packed. This neighborhood is designed for the pedestrian as the sidewalks are wide and the speed limit for the automobiles is low. The alleyways give off just as much character, giving nod to their old manufacturing roots. Although today, the area looks very different than it did years ago, yet, “despite of changes, it has always imposed itself on the ‘feelings and reason’ as the principle of architecture and of the city,”[2] making way for the artsy, creative, and imaginable emotions take up the space.

The life and character of the city occurs throughout the avenues and alleys, allowing oneself to participate in the identity of the neighborhood.

Milwaukee doesn’t have many districts in which certain feelings can be evoked. Through, Nicole Loves Milwaukee, I take you on an emotional experience through major avenues and broadened using alleyways. It is from this that, “identity becomes like a lighthouse-fixed, overdetermined,”[3] to stay the same although the city may be broadened, old buildings torn down and new, taller ones erected in their place. For this reason, the city is most engaged and experienced by walking along the most famous avenues and traverse within the surrounding alleyways.

[1] Kevin Lynch,”III. The City Image and Its Elements,” in The Image of the City (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1960): 55

[2] Aldo Rossi, “Introduction: Urban Artifacts and a Theory of the City” and “Chapter 1: The Structure of Urban Artifacts,” in The Architecture of the City (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1982):41

[3] Rem Koolhaas/ OMA (with Bruce Mau), “Whatever Happened to Urbanism” and “The Generic City,” in S,M,L,XL (New York: Monacelli Press, 1995): 1248

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