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A WEEK OF EXPERIENCES IN MILWAUKEE'S
MENOMONEE VALLEY

 

Valley Week celebrates Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley: what is made here, who works here, all there is to do here, and the great jobs and careers here.

Valley Week events invite the community to explore and experience Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley, from a beer run, tours on land or in water, campfire stories with hot chocolate and s'more, and planting trees for future generations, the week offers something to nature lovers, history enthusiasts, job seekers, and those looking for something unique to do.

The Valley is an urban district where industry and jobs, entertainment experiences, outdoor exploration, and nature thrive in the heart of the city.

Proceeds from the events support Menomonee Valley Partners, a nonprofit organization formed in 1999 to revitalize the Menomonee Valley.

See the outstanding results from the first Valley Week here and view our look back at the week in this video.  

#ValleyWeek

 

Nature & Recreation

More here

Play & Tours

More here

Eat & Drink

More here

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

THE ULTIMATE BEER RUN

Saturday, September 23, 11am

The most incredible running event of the millennium – The Ultimate Beer Run: Half of the registrants will start at Third Space and run/walk to City Lights where they will be treated with a tantalizingly delicious freshly brewed beer. The other half of the registrants will start at City Lights and run/walk to Third Space where they will enjoy an amazingly refreshing freshly brewed beer. After savoring the goodness at the turn-a-around, each of the respective groups will return to their starting location and be rewarded with yet another beer! So much positive reinforcement for your running feat!


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25

plant a tree in three bridges park

Monday, September 25, 9am-12pm

Volunteers can make memories and a lasting impact by planting trees in Three Bridges Park with trees donated through a partnership with the Harley-Davidson Motor Company’s Renew the Ride program. Renew the Ride is the Harley-Davidson community’s commitment to preserving and renewing the world we live and ride in.

Photo: The White Brothers planted a tree 15 years ago near Miller Park along the Hank Aaron State Trail in the Valley. they just returned this year to check on it. 

 

SOLD OUT - MENOMONEE RIVER KAYAK TOUR

Monday, September 25, 5:15pm

Paddle the Menomonee River and its canals while exploring its past, vital to Milwaukee's history, and its exciting future. We will learn about its history and how this area was vital to Milwaukee’s growth, the unique projects that made it a national model of environmental sustainability, and the exciting developments in the works! A member from Menomonee Valley Partners will lead our trip and staff from Milwaukee Kayak Company will paddle too. Whether it's your first time or your 100th, this is a great trip for you! Cost: $30 and half is donated back to Menomonee Valley Partners


TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26

Sponsored by:

discover your career expo

Tuesday, September 26, 10am-2pm

Sponsored by We Energies, this is a one-stop shop career exploration resource for adults seeking jobs and for youth and adults just wondering what's out there. You'll have the opportunity to learn about good-paying jobs at Valley companies and sign up for tours at companies you're interested in. From manufacturing to customer service, entry-level to high skill, you can find a career in the Valley. HR professionals will be on call to answer questions that will help you land that next job. 

  • DISCOVER career options
  • CONNECT with Valley employers
  • LEARN the application process
  • MEET local providers who can get you the training to secure in-demand jobs
  • ASK experts how to land the job you want - a judgement-free zone to ask the questions you've always wanted to know about how to land the job for you

Free and open to the public


WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

campfire stories for grown ups

Wednesday, September 27, 5-8pm

This is a engaging story of the history of Milwaukee and the Menomonee Valley like you've never heard before. You'll get a glimpse of the history of the Valley from pre-settlement Milwaukee through Machine Shop of the World to present day by those whose heritage is tied with the Valley and Milwaukee.

  • Forest County Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford will talk about the early days of Milwaukee, the Potawatomi story, and the role the Menomonee Valley played in this early history.
  • Bill Davidson of Harley-Davidson will talk about the rise of the Valley as a center of entrepreneurship, invention, and manufacturing strength. 
  • Robin Olson of Rexnord, one of Milwaukee's oldest companies, will share her story of what it takes to rise in a male-dominated industry, how she helps other women rise, and how she engages and inspires the next generation of youth to pursue careers that will carry Milwaukee into the future.

Palermo's Food Truck will be onsite serving Italian Street Food and S'mores Pizzettas. The Sigma Group will have free hot chocolote and marshmallow roasting. Free entrance!


THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28

Exterior from 5.20.15_Credit - Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.jpg

SOLD OUT - valley week business luncheon

Thursday, September 28, 12-1:30PM

Enjoy a delicious meal in one of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's featured event spaces as special guest, Mayor Barrett, recounts the story of the Menomonee Valley’s unbelievable transformation and previews the Valley’s exciting future which will continue to cement Milwaukee as a premier place to live, work, and play for generations to come. 

 
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HAPPY HOUR ON THE RIVER

Thursday, September 28, Times: 5:30PM, 6:30PM, 7:30PM

Enjoy a casual 45-minute happy hour float along the Menomonee River and its less explored canal - you might even spot a pirate ship! The boat departs from Twisted Fisherman. 

Cost: $10 (with $5 going to Menomonee Valley Partners) and includes one tap beer or rail mixer, cash bar on board

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ART WALK ON THE HANK AARON STATE TRAIL

Thursday, September 28, 5:15pm

The Menomonee Valley was the physical barrier that marked the divide between Milwaukee’s black and white communities.  In 1967, the first of the civil rights marches crossed the Menomonee Valley’s 16th Street Viaduct in protest of racial discrimination and housing segregation. In honor of 200 Nights of Freedom, Melissa Cook, Hank Aaron State Trail Manager, will provide a free tour to share the important history of Milwaukee’s civil rights marches and the murals that honor marchers along the Hank Aaron State Trail Menomonee River Loop.

Cost: Free (limited to first 50 registrants)


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30

Made in Milwaukee bus tour: Behind, Above & Below the Scenes

Saturday, September 30, 1-4:30PM

This in-depth bus tour will happen one time only. We will take you on a behind-the-scenes adventure where you will experience rarely seen sides of the Menomonee Valley and some of the companies (and their products!) that have helped to shape Milwaukee. Be prepared to get off the bus and explore! We'll provide the hard hats!

Cost: $35 and proceeds benefit Menomonee Valley Partners; only 12 spots left!

 

sold out - Menomonee Valley Bike Tour

Saturday, September 30, 1-3PM

Take a leisurely bike ride along the Hank Aaron State Trail with frequent stops to explore the rich history of the valley. Learn about Silurian Reef fossils, wild rice marshes, Milwaukee’s first railroad, and heavy industry that made Milwaukee the Machine Shop of the World. Discover remnants of the past along with a sculpture park, a haven for trout fishermen, and parkland reclaimed from rail yards. Gain an appreciation of this remarkable resource in the heart of Milwaukee.

SPECIAL VALLEY WEEK PROMOTIONS

$1 from every Sobelman's Bloody Mary sold at its original location on St. Paul Ave from September 23-30 will be donated to Menomonee Valley Partners

Put your toes in the sand, listen to  some island tunes, and enjoy a 3 course meal for $30 at Twisted Fisherman from September 23-30. Your meal includes choice of special appetizer, entrée, and dessert. You'll also help the Menomonee Valley because $5 from your purchase will benefit Menomonee Valley Partners!

Check out the delectable menu options here

 

With every oil change from Sep 23-30 at its Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center, Badger Truck Center will donate $2 back to Menomonee Valley Partners. Stop in or schedule your appointment at 414-345-5261.

ABOUT MENOMONEE VALLEY PARTNERS

Menomonee Valley Partners, Inc. is a Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to revitalize and sustain the Menomonee Valley as a thriving urban district that advances economical, ecological, and social equity for the benefit of the greater Milwaukee community.

    Use the slider to compare the former Milwaukee Road Shops with the current day Menomonee Valley Industrial Center, home to 10 businesses, a nationally renowned stormwater treatment system, trails, and park.

    Since its inception in 1999, Menomonee Valley Partners, Inc. has served as the lead agency in the redevelopment of Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley. Once Wisconsin's most visible eyesore, the Valley has been transformed, becoming a national model in economic development and environmental sustainability.

    • 300 acres of brownfields have been developed
    • 46 companies have moved to the Menomonee Valley
    • more than 5,000 family-supporting jobs have been created
    • one million square feet of green buildings have been constructed
    • more than 60 acres of new trails and park space with 45 acres of native plants installed have led to improved wildlife habitat and water quality

    Use the slider to compare the former Menomonee River near Miller Park to what we have today. Many people enjoy fly fishing here during the steelhead run in the spring and the salmon run in the fall. This may be the only Major League Baseball stadium where you can grill up the day's catch at a tailgate just moments later!


    THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS


    PRESENTING SPONSOR

     
     

    Supporting Sponsors

     
     

    Valley Partners

     
     
     
     
     
     

    A big thank you to NEWaukee for being our promotional partner and helping to spread the word about all the great things to do down in the Valley! 

    The 2017 Valley Week provides ample opportunities for businesses and organizations to increase brand awareness and at various investment levels. For more information on getting involved, contact Michelle Kramer at 414-221-5508 or Michelle@RenewTheValley.org. Download the Valley Week sponsorship packet. 

    The Menomonee Valley has a fascinating history: from wild rice marsh to manufacturing center to infamous eyesore, and now to a national model of economic and environmental sustainability.

    Menomonee Valley - 1975

    Menomonee Valley - 1975

    Menomonee Valley - 2015

    Menomonee Valley - 2015

    Historic Menomonee River Valley

    Four miles long and a half-mile wide, the Menomonee River Valley extends from the Harley-Davidson Museum to the site of Miller Park Stadium. The Valley was formed by melting glaciers more than 10,000 years ago and, for thousands of years, the 1200-acre Menomonee Valley was a wild rice marsh, home to American Indians. The name “Menomonee” is derived from the Algonquin “meno,” meaning good, and “min,” a term for grain or fruit.  Wild rice (menomin) flourished in the extensive wetlands of the MenomoneeValley.  By the 1700s, the Potawatomi were the primary residents of the region.  Ojibwa, Fox, Menominee, Ottawa, Sauk, Winnebago and others also lived here at various times. 

    All the marsh proper...would, in the spring, be literally alive with fish that came in from the lake... And the number of ducks that covered the marsh was beyond all computation.”
    — James Bucks, 1830s

    In 1795, Jacques Vieau, a fur trader, established the first permanent trading post in Wisconsin on the bluffs of the Valley at the site of what is now Mitchell Park. By the mid-1800s, the settlement of Milwaukee pushed toward the Valley, and Milwaukeeans filled the marsh with soil, gravel, and waste to create dry land for additional development. They straightened the Menomonee River and cut canals to provide shipping routes

    1872

    1872

    Photo: Library of Congress

    Photo: Library of Congress

    The Machine Shop of the World

    By the early 1900s, Milwaukee was known as the “Machine Shop of the World” and the Menomonee Valley was its engine. Farm machinery, rail cars, electric motors and cranes were made in the Valley. Clay became cream city bricks. Wheat was turned into flour, hogs became ham and barley became beer.  Cattle were made into meat, leather and tallow (soap and candles) with no parts wasted. These changes provided jobs for thousands of people, but damaged the Valley’s natural resources.

    From 1879 to 1985, the Valley was the location of the Milwaukee Road Shops, an enormous complex that made rail cars and locomotives for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad. In the 1900s, the Milwaukee Road was one of the largest employers in Milwaukee with nearly 3,000 employees. Many lived in the neighborhoods nearby and walked to work.

    Falk (now Rexnord) gears

    Falk (now Rexnord) gears

    Neighborhood Life

    By the late 1800s, thousands of workers arrived in the Menomonee Valley to work in industrial jobs. They established the first large neighborhoods west of downtown – Piggsville, Merrill Park, and Concordia. Most workers walked to work carrying lunch pails and were known as the “bucket brigade.” The neighborhood southwest of the Valley, Silver City, owes its name to the employees of the Valley' Milwaukee Road Shops. The Shops paid its workers in silver dollars, and on pay day there would be a flurry of silver dollars changing hands in all the saloons along National Avenue. 

    Then - the bridge that carried workers from Silver City to work in the Milwaukee Road Shopts

    Then - the bridge that carried workers from Silver City to work in the Milwaukee Road Shopts

    Now - Valley Passage Bridge, one of the three bridges to Three Bridges Park

    Now - Valley Passage Bridge, one of the three bridges to Three Bridges Park

    The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches. Click above to learn more.

    The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches. Click above to learn more.

    By the 1960s, the Menomonee Valley was a cultural divide of black and white communities, often known as “Milwaukee’s Mason Dixon line.” In 1967, Father James Groppi, a Catholic priest, led the first of the open housing marches across the Valley’s 16th Street Viaduct in protest of racial discrimination and housing segregation. The Milwaukee Common Council passed an open housing ordinance in 1968. In 1988, the 16th Street Viaduct was officially renamed the James E.Groppi Unity Bridge.

    The Valley’s Decline

    By the late 1900s, as manufacturing practices changed, the Valley was left a blighted area with abandoned, contaminated land and vacant industrial buildings.  Bridges into the Valley were demolished as businesses left and the Valley was isolated from the surrounding city, a place to pass over, but not a place to go.  The neighborhoods adjacent to the Valley most strongly felt the impacts of the Valley’s decline; residents suffered from limited access to jobs and recreation opportunities, high levels of asthma and obesity, and poor air quality.

    Vacant buildings at the former Milwaukee Road Shops site, directly east of where Miller Park is located today

    Vacant buildings at the former Milwaukee Road Shops site, directly east of where Miller Park is located today

    Soo Line.jpg

    Redevelopment Efforts

    In 1998, the City of Milwaukee, the Menomonee Valley Business Association and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District prepared a land use plan for the Menomonee Valley, a road map for its redevelopment. At the time, the State of Wisconsin was laying the groundwork for the Hank Aaron State Trail. As a result of these planning efforts, Menomonee Valley Partners was formed as a nonprofit organization, a public-private partnership to facilitate business, neighborhood, and public partners in efforts to revitalize the Valley.  

    In the past 18 years, 46 companies have moved to or expanded in the Valley, 5,200 jobs have been created, 45 acres of native plants, seven miles of trails, and a nationally recognized shared  system have been established. In addition, 10 million people visit the Valley each year. More than 250 organizations and 450 individuals have given pro bono time by serving on boards, committees, and working teams, while thousands of individuals have volunteered at Valley events.

    Aerial of the Valley from Miller Park looking east toward Lake Michigan

    Aerial of the Valley from Miller Park looking east toward Lake Michigan

    The 6th Street Viaduct was deconstructed and replaced with the 6th Street bridges in 2002, providing the first opportunity for most to actually enter the Menomonee Valley. Read more here.

    The 6th Street Viaduct was deconstructed and replaced with the 6th Street bridges in 2002, providing the first opportunity for most to actually enter the Menomonee Valley. Read more here.

    Today, the Valley is a national model of economic and environmental sustainability.  Recognized by the Sierra Club as "One of the 10 Best Developments in the Nation," the Menomonee Valley continues to receive local and national recognition. 

    The Valley's Future

    During the course of 18 months, Menomonee Valley Partners and the City of Milwaukee held public meetings and met with hundreds of stakeholders to envision what the Menomonee Valley will become in the next 20 years. The City of Milwaukee Common Council approved the Valley 2.0 plan in June 2015. The plan communicates five major initiatives:

    1. Creating an East Valley Gateway Food and Beverage Cluster
    2. Establishing a St. Paul Avenue Design Showroom District - recent news in the Journal Sentinel
    3. Preserving the Bruce and Pierce Industrial District
    4. Improving the Gateway to the Menomonee Valley from I-94
    5. Better Connecting the Valley 

    Image depicting an expanded Milwaukee RiverWalk from the Third Ward, through the Menomonee Valley, to Three Bridges Park

    Image depicting an expanded Milwaukee RiverWalk from the Third Ward, through the Menomonee Valley, to Three Bridges Park

    Image depicting potential new roadways (yellow) and new buildings (dark gray) along the Menomonee River at W Mt Vernon and Emmber Lane

    Image depicting potential new roadways (yellow) and new buildings (dark gray) along the Menomonee River at W Mt Vernon and Emmber Lane