Downtown Milwaukee

The Downtown District is broken up into 3 main sub-districts: the Old 3rd Ward- A rejuvenated warehouse district; East Town- home to some stunning turn of the century commercial bldgs esp. along Wisconsin Avenue but also lots of modern high rises along the lake forming Milwaukee’s mini Golden Coast. Also some very nice late 19th century residential/instructional development in East Town between Kilbourne and Knapp. Milwaukee is the most in-tact historic downtown street cutting across both West and East Towns.  West Town- this is the most underinvested part of Dwtn with lots of dead spots but some good nodes including the old Department store district on Wisconsin, the German themed block on Old Word 3rd St., the redeveloped Pabst complex at the Brewery District, and Civic Complex at McPherson Park.

Both West Town and East Town hosted more or less original settlements in Milwaukee established in the 1830s. East Town was historically called the Juneau Town and West Town was called Kilbourn Town. Along with being a major warehousing district in the City the Historic 3rd Ward was once home to Irish, and then, Italian immigrants.

From an urban perspective Downtown Milwaukee is very similar to Downtown Cleveland and Detroit with its broad streets, striking historic buildings, and warehouse district. But it also has Chicago influences with its expansive lakefront park feeding seamlessly into Downtown, river promenade, and great bike infrastructure. Downtown Milwaukee also has solid cultural amenities, decent retail amenities (although still missing a supermarket), diversity of housing types, stunning public buildings (City Hall, Public Library, and McArthur City complex), and many public plazas spread throughout. The biggest area of improvement needed in Dwtn Milwaukee is more urban in-fill especially in all the dead spots and surface parking lots in West Town but Dwtn could also use better tree canopy, better racial and generational diversity, better walkable schools, a more interesting skyline, and a narrowing of its many wide streets.

Click here to view my East Town Album, West Town Album, and Historic 3rd Ward


* Excellent density for a downtown.
* Good dedicated bike coverage throughout most of the City and to many of the suburbs.
* Good dedicated bike coverage in Dwtn, Northside, inner west side, and limited to the southside. The urban suburbs of West Allis and Wauwatosa also have great dedicated bike station coverage.
* Excellent economic diversity living Dwtn.
* Solid for sale options with a wide range of price points. 1-bed condo sell btwn 100K-600K, 2-beds btwn 225K-900K but some high end product in the Millions. Good # of 3 & 4 bed selling btwn 400K-2 M.
* Pretty good rental options pretty inline pricewise with most Dwtns. Studios 1-beds lease btwn 1K-2K- 2-beds 1K-3K, and some 3-beds leasing btwn 3K-6K.
* Great park amenities especially the expansive lake front parks and the City Malls. Good amount of other smaller parks & plazas too. Cathedral Square is what I would consider the Civic plaza. Good layout but not centrally located and themed.
* Generally a pretty safe Dwtn but some pretty dead and sketchy felling places in West Town further from the river.
* Marquette University Students with its 11K students sits just west of Dwtn but its pretty insular. A several smaller colleges Dwtn including Milwaukee Area Technical College.
* Solid cultural amenities with a good array of food & beverage bizs, several night clubs & theaters, plenty of museums, and some art galleries especially in the 3rd Ward.. Dwtn also hosts the arena where the Milwaukee Bucks play and a smaller arena where the UWM and minor hocky team play.
* Wonderful Historic library Dtwn, which is a block away from the impressive McArthur Square surrounding by impressive Beau Arts Gov’t Bldgs and Museums.
* Dwtn certainly punches over its weight class with around 80K employees working in the CBD (at as of 2020).
* Good retail amenities include an active public market, tons of banks several butcher shops, a drug store, several boutiques & gift shops, a TJ Maxx, a couple book stores, some dessert joins and gyms and several churches. Large hospital on the western edge of West Town.
* Some good infill in East Town with several attractive high-rises near the lake and mixed-use infill.


* Generally good connectivity with the street grid but and good number of wide roads often 1-way.
* So so racial diversity living Dwtn.
*Very few children living Dwtn but good amount museums and child friendly destinations.
* Decent # of walkable schools within or near Dwtn but mixed ratings.
* There are a couple post offices on the edges of Dwtn but the historic post office is no longer active.
* Decent skyline with several landmark buildings but not enough cohesion to be a great skyline.
* Lots of surface parking lots in West Town and uninspiring auto centric structures in spots. Lots of surface parking lots on the eastern and southern edges of the 3rd Ward as well.
* Tree canopy is so so.
* Some good pedestrian activity is spots and plenty of dead spaces in between them especially the western half of West Town.

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