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Milwaukee Public Market

WARD HEALING
Milwaukee's Third Ward and Environs

getaway-chicago logoAs a Getaway destination Milwaukee is too big to digest in one visit; regardless of length. Just as New Yorkers seem to think that over the George Washington Bridge lies an abyss (New Jersey), Chicagoans seem to think Milwaukee is very far away. It’s not, there’s lots to do and see, and parking isn’t difficult or costly.

milwaukee1While on a business call Neil found Milwaukee’s Third Ward by chance. While slightly lost in the Ward’s higgledy-piggledy maze of streets, he discovered a great place to spend a day or an evening soaking up some up-scale Bohemianism. Emulating the best of abandoned commercial district revitalization, someone in Milwaukee had the instincts and wherewithal to see in the Ward’s 19th century commercial architecture the core ingredients of a SoHo type district.

Navigating the Ward can be a challenge. Hemmed in by I-94 to the west, I-794 to the north and east, dissected by the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers and a jumble of former cow paths, the Ward requires a good sense of direction or a GPS. The Getaway Guys abandoned their wheels and hoofed it until time for their antique crawl (Alan being dragged along). With no itinerary in mind the Getaway Guys checked out the following stuff: on Chicago Avenue, Bella Café coffee house (very nice); on North Broadway, the Broadway Theater Company, the Palms Restaurant (good lunch) and Broadway Central (interesting shopping and browsing). Then over on North Water Street, the Eisner Museum of Advertising and Design, Milwaukee Ale House (hopping after dark) and, at the corner of Water and Erie Streets, the M&M Café (inviting). Down Erie is the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (worth a stop) and, on North Milwaukee Street, a French connection, Coquette Café (good evening fare).milwaukee2

The Milwaukee Public Market on St Paul between North Water and Broadway is a must; a virtual les Halles on the Milwaukee. The Market offers a wide variety of food stuffs and culinary ingredients. A feast for the eyes and a great place to shop for any occasion! Antiquing can be a part of the Third Ward experience. It’s Alan’s least favorite preoccupation, but he’s usually a good egg about it. Establishments devoted to the trade are dispersed, so a printed guide and a vehicle are recommended. Two of Neil’s favorites are Riverview Antique Market on Water Street and Blackhawk Antique Market on South 12th Street. The former has the feel of treasure hunt and the latter the look of a museum.

Within a stone’s thrown of the Third Ward is the Milwaukee Art Museum. Take Chicago Avenue east (under I-794) to North Harbor Drive, turn left and, bingo!, you’re almost in the Museum parking garage. milwaukee3A jewel of the mid-west, the Museum has an outstanding collection of American and European art with a special emphasis on German Expressionism (c. 1905-1930) and contemporary American art for the 60’s and 70’s. Both Getaway Guys found stuff to agree and disagree about, not the least of which being the recent Calatrava addition with its lyrical (Alan), but boring (Neil) “flapping” wings.

From Chicago, take I-94 and exit at National Avenue near downtown Milwaukee. Go east on National to First Street (Rt. 32), then north on First into the heart of the Third Ward.  (Warning! It’s a good idea to get traffic construction updates before you travel.  In Illinois, you may want to use U.S. 41 from Dundee Road to the Wisconsin border!) November 2006

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