In the final episode of our series “88Nine Presents: Milwaukee with John Gurda,” we explore North Milwaukee, following the chapter from Gurda’s new book, Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods.
The north side of Milwaukee is made up of many smaller neighborhoods, but only one of them was once a fully autonomous village, totally separate from City of Milwaukee’s services.
Nothing is quite like North Milwaukee anywhere else in the entire Milwaukee area.
- John Gurda
For a little over a decade at the beginning of the 1900s, North Milwaukee — a smaller section within the north side — had its own government and its own economy.
Running from Congress to Silver Spring, and from Sherman to 27th Street, the village was developed at the crossing of two railroad lines, and thousands of jobs followed from the factories on both sides of the tracks.
But as the City of Milwaukee grew, subpar city services to North Milwaukee led residents into action, and they voted to join Milwaukee proper in 1929.
Since then, and especially in the last few decades, the area has been steadily deindustrialized, and like much of the inner city and other parts of the larger “north side,” suffers from unemployment, urban blight, and a shrinking local economy.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its own vibrancy. Far from it, actually.
Click the video player above to take a tour of the neighborhood narrated by Gurda, and listen to the audio story below to hear more about its roots.