The weather will break just in time for the dedication of Three Bridges Park tomorrow, an endeavor that culminates a 15-year rebirth of the Menomonee Valley. In the not so distant past of the previous decade the Valley was in pretty rough shape, with brownfields, under utilization, and livestock busting out of slaughterhouse pens stopping traffic in the stretch of industrial corridor between 6th and 35th Streets.
Coming a long way in land use terms, currently 4 Seasons Skate Park, Zimmerman Architectural Studios (a tremendous rehabilitation of the old gas streetlight fueling plant), Marquette Sports Fields, a newer riverfront cantina called the Twisted Fisherman, a host of traditional industrial businesses like the City Fleet and high tech ones like Helios call the Valley home. The Valley will even have its first high-rise courtesy of Potawatomi Casino, a miraculous 15-story hotel built atop marshlands; And now move over Bioswale, there’s a 24-acre park.
More Ways to Go
Three Bridges Park connects the lower parts of Clark Square and Silver City to the eastern end of Hank Aaron Trail, and adds several miles of trail through the park that spans from 27th Street to 35th Street. Three Bridges will have several notable passages, one of which connects Three Bridges to the Mitchell Park, an excellent siting choice to bring access to the Domes from the Hank Aaron. With an emphasis on multi-modal transportation, the park will also feature canoe portages.
The original passage to the Valley from Silver City sits in the shadows of Miller Park, a narrow tunnel (with a checkered past) connecting Canal Street to Pierce Street. Today, murals coat the Valley Passage’s once forlorn and neglected concrete surface, opening to a winding path leading to the Menomonee Valley branch of the Urban Ecology Center.
Doesn’t look like much now, but these will soon be rolling hills lined with trees.
Building a New Past
July 20th marks the opening of Three Bridges Park, a crowning achievement among many to spring from the From the Ground Up initiative. Menomonee Valley Partners and the Urban Ecology Center have teamed up to weave collaborative projects that support access to jobs, environmental education and outdoor recreation. Some have heralded the opening of Three Bridges Park as Milwaukee’s Central Park moment, a point in time that marks when generations to come will no longer know that blight gripped the land there.