The Historic Water Tower is naturally named after its namesake, The North Point Water Tower, built in 1873. This was part of Milwaukee’s first public waterworks, with attractive Victorian Gothic. The neighborhood slowly was built after the completion of the water tower moving from south to north. At that time the area was just considered part of the East Side neighborhood and not as a separate district. I suspect the Historic Water Tower neighborhood name didn’t come into fashion until the preservation of movement of the 1970s. Five separate historic districts were created here with many notable historic buildings being added to the registry.
The norther half of the district was built around the N Downer Ave. commercial node and has a very early 20th century street car character. The homes tend to get more spacious and SF detached the further north you go. From an urban perspective the Historic Water Tower district also excels at quality retail and cultural amenities in a walkable setting, has a good array of for sale housing, excellent park amenities, and great tree canopy. The neighborhood’s biggest failings is a lack of racial and economic diversity. It also lacks quality schools, has limited rentals, and no local post office. I hope the Downer and North Avenue nodes continue to densify with quality urban infill as well.
Click here to view my Historic Water Tower Album on Flickr
* Solid urban density.
* Good ADA and sidewalks infrastructure. Some older ADA curb cuts.
* Solid # of dedicated bike lanes and some bike rental stations.
* Very safe community overall.
* Good mix of moderately priced and expensive homes. Handful of condos for sale in the 200Ks & 300Ks, 2-beds range anywhere btwn 175K-650K with a lot of moderately priced condo options. 3 & 4 beds range btwn 250K- 1 M with some larger mansions selling for even more. Again a good # of moderately priced condos/townhomes selling in the 300Ks.
* Excellent access to parks including the expansive and multi-faceted Lake Park and excellent Back Bay/McKinley Park, lakefront access and several beaches. Also convenient access to the quad space at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
* Good cultural amenities, especially when you include the North Avenue commercial node located a couple blocks west. Also solid cultural amenities along Downer Ave. Good # of food & beverage biz, a couple breweries, a pair of historic indie theaters, a couple live music venues, and several historic homes and museums, esp. when you include the cultural amenities at UWM.
* Good retail amenities including a hardware store, a bakeries, a Wholefoods & local grocery store, a drug store, good # of boutiques/clothing stores, a book store, several banks, some gyms & dessert joints, a public library, and major hospital.
* Excellent historic architecture, especially the larger homes near the lake.
* Very full tree canopy.
* Not great racial nor economic diversity. Decent generational diversity here.
* Only a handful of schools in the area and ratings are mixed.
* Rentals are pretty limited especially 1-bed.s Some 2 & 3 beds leasing btwn 1K-2.5K.
* No local post office.
* Not a ton of modern in-fill but some good modern mixed-use in-fil along Prospect.