The Lower East Side- Milwaukee’s Best Urban District

The lower East Side’s development really got going after the Civil War. By the early 1870s East Brady Street began to emerge as a center of Polish commerce with a concentration of working class Polish immigrants living in the surrounding neighborhood. Homes closer to the lake were occupied by the City’s elite and wealthy. In the 1920s the ethnic focus of the neighborhood began to shift to Italian, reaching its peak in the 1950s. By the 1960s immigrant families began to Americanize and move out to the suburbs.  Brady Street then  became the focus of Milwaukee’s counter-culture movement. More recently due to its prime location near Downtown and between the Lake and Milwaukee River, the Lower East Side has seen major rises in value and significant development interest.

Interestingly this recent period of investment following a strong counter-cultural movement has left the Lower East Side as Milwaukee’s premiere melting pot, with a mix of hipsters, hippies, college students and young professionals. The district has several commercial areas including Brady St., North Avenue, Prospect/Farwell Avenues, and Water St. This all culminates in a very diverse and walkable neighborhood, one of Milwaukee’s best urban neighborhoods. The Lower East Side also hosts great parks spaces including two designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Even with its rise in value, the Lower East Side still hosts a lot of affordable/moderately priced housing.

For this to be a premiere district it needs urban in-fill in a couple dead spots, better walkable schools and generational diversity, and a fuller tree canopy.

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* Solid urban density
* Solid sidewalk infrastructure but lots many curbs cuts were not up to modern standards, esp. on residential streets.
* Excellent access to Dwtn amongst all modes of transportation.
* A bit of a confusion street grid but still solid connectivity.
* Great bike infrastructure with several dedicated lanes and many bike stations.
* Wonderful economic diversity.
* Lots of Apts and good mix of moderately and luxury priced ones. Studios lease btwn $600- low 1Ks, 1-beds btwn $880- 2K-, 2-beds btwn $950- 2.5K, 3-beds btwn 1.2K-3K. Decent # of 3-beds.
* Similar diversity with for sale product. Good # of 1-bed condos selling btwn $130K-350K, 2-beds btwn 200K-600K, and 3 & 4 beds btwn 250K- 700K.
* Great park access including two large waterfront parks (Caser’s Park & Veteran’s Park) and several small/medium parks spread throughout.
* Cultural amenities are great including a wonderful array of food & Beverage Bizs, several art galleries, a couple night clubs a several museums & historic homes, several live music venues, an indie theater, and convenient access to all the Dwtn amenities.
* Great retail amenities too including  two supermarkets, several grocerias and drug stores, lots of boutiques/clothing stores, several home good stores, lots of creative stores, tons of dessert joints, several gyms, several churches a public library & post office, and a major hospital nearby.
* Very safe neighborhood overall.
* Great urban form through with only a couple of vacant or underutilized spaces.
* Solid pedestrian traffic.
* Excellent modern in-fill throughout.


* So so racial diversity and poor generational diversity.
* Decent # of walkable schools in and around the Lower East Side but pretty mixed ratings.
* Good but not great tree canopy. Better along residential streets.

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