A WEEK OF EXPERIENCES IN MILWAUKEE'S
2017 VALLEY WEEK RECAP
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'mores, 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.
EVENTS COMING SOON!
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
MENOMONEE RIVER KAYAK TOUR
Monday, September 24, 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
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
valley week business luncheon
Thursday, September 27, 12-1:30PM
HAPPY HOUR ON THE RIVER
Thursday, September 27, 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
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
- 47 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 19 years, 47 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.
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
3. Preserving the Bruce and Pierce Industrial District
4. Improving the Gateway to the Menomonee Valley from I-94
5. Better Connecting the Valley