Downer and Cambridge Woods- the Neighborhoods Surrounding the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

The district’s boundaries includes the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and all of the Cambridge Woods and Downer Woods neighborhoods. I included UWM in the evaluation to get an accurate population for the neighborhood but am generally not including it for the rest of the evaluation.  However, many parts of the neighborhood are intertwined with the University and thus impossible to separate.

Cambridge Woods and Downer Woods developed in the first half of 20th century as a mix of single-family, duplex, condo, and multi-family units. There is an interesting eclectic mix of stylings ranging from  Queen Anne mansions to bungalows,.

The University of Wisconsin Madison began as Milwaukee-Downer College, a women’s college. In 1956, Wisconsin State College-Milwaukee merged with the University of Wisconsin–Extension’s Milwaukee division to form the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. This merger led to a rapid reconstruction and expansion of the existing campuses helping to shape what it looks like today. It is not surprising that the majority of the campus is very modern looking. Fortunately the university also hosts a lot of green space and cultural amenities. The surrounding Cambridge/ Downer Woods certainly were affected by the creation of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee becoming much more student oriented in their housing and the Oakland business district has a very strong college feel. But the neighborhoods still retain a decent homeownership presence, especially Downer Woods along the Lake. The neighborhoods also have wonderful park access, public transit and bike infrastructure, and a very full tree canopy. Areas for improvement include more walkable schools, better retail amenities, improved racial and generational diversity, and more 1-bedroom options (both rental and for sale).  

Click here to view my Downer Woods album and Click here to view my Cambridge Woods Album on Flickr


* Good urban density.
* Excellent access to public transit and bike infrastructure.
*Good ADA and sidewalk infrastructure but lots of missing modern curb cuts.
* Very attractive 1910s-1940s historic housing including. Gorgeous mansions in Downer Woods near the lake or very cute Tudors just west of UWM.
* Connectivity is generally very good but gets less so surrounding the University.
* Excellent economic diversity thanks largely to the student population.
* Decent # of rentals and moderately priced. Unfortunately there are few 1-beds here but they generally lease around $800-900. 2-beds for in the low-mid 1Ks, 3-beds anywhere from the low 1Ks- the mid 2Ks. Plenty of 4-beds that costs slightly more.
* For sale product is also generally moderately priced also. Very limited 1-bed options but good # of 2-beds that sell anywhere btwn 230K-the low 300Ks. 3 & 4 beds sell btwn 185K-550K. Many of the 2 & 3 beds are set up more like condos.
* Great park amenities with the lengthy recreational trail running along the Milwaukee River, Cambridge Woods, convenient access to Riverside Park and Lake Park, and the quad space at UWM.
* Very pleasant and generally full tree canopy.
* Good cultural amenities including plenty of Food & Beverage bizs, several art galleries at the University, and quality Performing Arts at the University as well.
* Generally a safe area but some crime given its high student population.
* Not much infill in the neighborhoods but plenty at the University of mixed quality.
* Solid urban massing along Oakland the main Biz District.


* So so racial diversity but poor generational diversity thanks to the overpowering student population here.
* Only a handful of schools in the area and generally not rated well.
* Okay retail amenities including a drug store, a couple vintage/clothing stores, the university bookstore, several salons and barber shops, a print shop, and plenty of churches & Synagogues.
* No walkable access to a grocery store, post office, or library.