Brewer’s Hill & Halyard Park- Two Revitalizing Urban Districts in Milwaukee’s Northside

The name Brewers’ Hill is derived from the large number of brewery workers and owners who once inhabited the area. Just to the south of the neighborhood, the Schlitz and Blatz breweries operated into the 1980s. Historically Brewer’s Hill was developed as very mixed neighborhood where a laborer’s cottage could stand across the street from a manager’s  mini mansion. This created a plethora of interesting turn of the century architectural styles including a mix of Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival. The district also has a fair share of warehouses near the Schlitz Brewery and Milwaukee River. These have been converted into office and condos as the neighborhood has revitalized.

MLK Drive is the dividing line between Halyard Park and Brewer’s Hill. Sadly this stood as a racial divide for much of the neighborhood’s history but this is becoming less and less the case as both neighborhoods revitalize. Halyard Park is historically a African American district that fell on hard times after the 60s and the construction of I-43. In response to widespread disinvestment and vacancy the neighborhood redeveloped much of its fabric with large suburban homes in the 1980s.  This was done by a resident and Black developer named Eechie Brooks and brought much needed Black homeownership to Halyard Park. Halyard Park was nicknamed the “Suburb within the City”.  Sadly this also had the downside of destroying more of the district’s quality urban fabric and density.

From an urban perspective the neighborhoods have quality access to bike and transit infrastructure, convenience to Dwtn, good for-sale housing diversity, decent retail and cultural amenities, and some great historic housing. To become a great urban district Halyard Park & Brewer’s Hill need more density, more 1-bedroom rentals, better park amenities, more urban in-fill on blighted land, and better urban massing along North Ave.

Click here to view my Brewer’s Hill Album and Click here to view my Halyard Park Album on Flickr


* ADA and sidewalk infrastructure is generally good but a fair amount of residential streets with outdated curb cuts.
* Solid public transit and bike infrastructure access.
* Excellent access to Downtown.
* Great economic and racial diversity here. Decent age diversity but limited # of households with kids.
* Pretty good walkable school access but mixed ratings.
* Pretty good for sale diversity. Decent # of 1-bed condos selling btwn 185K-350K, 2-beds sell btwn 185K-550K, 3 & 4 beds sell between 185K-575K.
* Decent but not great cultural amenities including a good # of food & beverage bizs, a community theater, the American Black Holocaust Museum, a couple breweries.
* Decent but not great retail amenities including a supermarket, several boutiques/clothing stores, a hardware store, plenty of salons/barber shops, good # of churches.
* Some very attractive historic architecture along MLK Drive and good # of attractive homes throughout Brewer’s Hill.


* Okay # of rentals. Limited # of studios and 1-beds. Some 2-beds leasing 1K-2K. Good amount of 3-beds leasing btwn 1K-3K although most in the $1,000s.
* So so park amenities. Expensive recreational parks west of Halyard Park but little else with parks inside these neighborhoods. The expansive Kilbourne Reservoir Park is also only a couple blocks east of Brewer’s Hill.
* Still some safety issues especially in Halyard but this seems to be improving. Still a decent amount blight and vacancy especially in Halyard thanks to severe racial disparities.
* Very mixed bag with urban in-fill. Some quality Multi-family bldgs close to the Milwaukee River. Lots of large suburban housing built in Halyard Park in the 70s-90s.
* Urban massing is a mixed bag. Generally pretty good along MLK Dr. but lots missing death and auto centric blight along North Ave.  Many residential streets in Halyard park are filled with large suburban homes as well. Streetscaping is fine but nothing special about it.
* Still struggling with some image issues, especially Halyard Park but this should lessen in the upcoming years.

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.

Milwaukee’s Upper East Side- Attractive early 20th Century District that hosts the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Business District

This early 20th century leafy neighborhood contains great green spaces like Riverside Park, with its Urban Ecology Center, and Lake Park. It also sits just south of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee giving its commercial district along Downer Avenue a very strong college vibe with lots of ethnic restaurants and sub shops. The Upper East Side also boasts of great public transit and bike access, convenience to Downtown, great economic diversity as there are many affordable 3 & 4 bedroom rentals, and gorgeous historic homes especially near Lake park and along New berry Blvd.

What Upper East Side lacks the most are 1 & 2 bedroom rentals and condos. This is something that the nearby neighborhoods of Lower East Side and Murray Hill have in abundance.  There is also limited racial and generational diversity, few quality walkable schools, and so so retail amenities.

Click here to view my Upper East Side Album on Flickr


* Decent urban density.
* Great public transit and bike access. Very convenient access to Dwtn.
* Top notch connectivity.
* Great economic diversity
* Very good sidewalk and ADA infrastructure. About 1/3 of curb buts are not up to modern standards.
* Excellent Tree canopy.
* Great access to park space sitting between the expansive Lake and Riverside Parks.
* Good access to cultural amenities including a good # of food & beverage Bizs, a couple live music venues, the many cultural activities at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and convenient access to Murray Hills Downer Ave Biz District.
* Overall a very safe community.
* Great historic homes, especially near Lake Park and along Newberry Blvd.


* So so racial and generational diversity. Tons of colleges students here but also a good amount of family households with/ kids.
* Only a handful of schools in the area and generally not rated well.
* Some housing diversity but very few 1-beds for sale and some 2-beds. 2-beds sale for btwn 300K-500K, 3 & 4 beds btwn 250K-850K; good amount of this larger hsg sell around 300K.
* Very limited 1 & 2 beds for lease. 2-beds sell in the low 1Ks. Decent amount of 3-beds leasing btwn 1.3K-2K. 4-beds lease for around 2K and a decent amount of it.
* Decent retail amenities including a drug store, a couple retail stores, a print shop, lots of salons & barber shops, several churches. Supermarket and hardware stores are located a couple blocks south along Downer. The Upper East Side Biz District along Oakland is very couple focused, which limits store options.
* Urban in fill is very limited. But not much auto centric development.

Riverside Park & Murray Hill- Two excellent urban districts in Milwaukee’s East Side

Murray Hill was built primarily in the early  20th century, primarily bungalows, two-family duplexes, and larger apartment buildings. The area quickly became home to many Italian Immigrants and there is still some evidence of this influence.

Riverside is noted for its racial and ethnic diversity, including large numbers of African-Americans and Caucasians, as well as growing Iranian, Russian, Asian, and Hispanic populations. With the neighborhood’s proximity to the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, a sizable college student population also resides there. Both Murray Hill and Riverside Park have seen rises in housing value thanks to their solid walkable amenities, and access to Dwtn and UMW.

Both neighborhoods also excel at great access to park, retail, and cultural amenities, great public transit and bike access, great housing diversity including lots of moderately priced housing, good tree canopy, and solid architecture. There are several commercial nodes in the neighborhood including North Avenue, a couple blocks of Murray Avenue & Farwell Ave, and Downer Avenue. The biz districts of the Lower East Side around North Avenue and Oakland Ave in the Upper East Side are nearby as well.

Areas for improvement from an urban perspective include better ADA curb cuts, better schools and more families, and urban infill in the auto centric pockets of the neighborhood along parts of North Avenue and Farwell Avenue.

Click here for my Murray Hill Album and click here for my Riverside Park Album on Flickr


* Great public transit and bike access.
* Very convenient access to Dwtn.
* Great economic diversity and solid racial diversity.
* Good # of apartments and generally moderately priced. 1-beds lease btwn 800K- 1.5K, 2-beds mostly line the low 1Ks but some luxury product leasing in the 2Ks, and lots of 3-beds available leasing btwn 1K to the mid 2Ks. Even an handful of 4 beds available. Vast majority of rentals are in Murray Hill.
* Great mix of for sale options. Decent # of 1-bed condos selling in the 100Ks and low 200Ks, -beds. Tons of 2-beds selling btwn 150K-450K. 3 & 4 beds selling btwn 250K- 550K
* Great access to parks and recreation here. The expansive Riverside park sides on the western edge of the Riverside neighborhood and Garden Park is just across the Milwaukee River. The expansive Lake park is just several blocks east of Murray Hill. Limited amount of parks in Murray Hill itself.
* Solid tree canopy here.
*Good cultural amenities including a decent # of restaurants, bars & cafes, a couple art galleries, several live music venues, a couple indie movie theaters, a bowling alley, and convenient access to all the cultural amenities of the Lower East Side near North Ave.
* Good retail amenities as well including 2 supermarkets, a couple drug stores,  a hardware store, several creative/unique stores, clothing stores mostly in nearby Lower East Side, a couple banks, several book stores, a bakery, a couple gyms, several dessert joints, a post office, several churches, and convenient access to Ascension Hospital.
* Overall these are very safe communities.
* Solid historic architecture especially in Murray Hill. Generally good modern in-fill but some auto centric stuff mixed in.
* Overall pretty good urban in-fill in the biz districts but some auto centric stretches.


* Decent sidewalk and ADA infrastructure but more than 1/2 of the curb cuts are not up to modern standards and some don’t have curb cuts at all.
* Thanks to the large college population, generational diversity is pretty limited. But some families here.
* Only a handful of schools in the area and ratings are mixed.

The Historic Water Tower Neighborhood- Home to many Gorgeous Mansions and the Gothic WaterTower

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.

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.

Click here to view my album on Flickr


* 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.