In the sixth episode of our series “88Nine Presents: Milwaukee with John Gurda,” we explore the East Side, following the chapters from Gurda’s new book, Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods.
The East Side has always been a crazy mix of different worlds, and that goes back to the very beginning.
- John Gurda
The East Side of Milwaukee is relatively small compared to the rest of the city — only about four square miles — but its influence reaches far beyond its physical borders.
Today, it’s arguably the busiest section of Milwaukee, densely populated and constantly evolving.
The “Lower” section of the East Side is defined as the area south of North Ave., split down the middle by bustling Brady Street. That area was originally settled by Polish and Sicilian immigrants who built modest homes within walking distance of the Milwaukee River, the largest source of employment for early workers. Then, by the 1960s, college students flocked to the Lower East Side by the thousands, seeking education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
North of North Ave. is the “Upper” part of East Side. Marked by beautiful lakefront properties — carefully maintained by wealthy owners — the Upper East Side boasts some of the most impressive houses in Wisconsin. It’s also home to UWM faculty and staff, as well as students, and newcomers to the city.
Our coverage continues with audio stories below. Click the first player to hear how Brady Street emerged as a hotspot for counter-culture in Milwaukee.
Then, click the player below to learn about the Upper East Side, famous for its collection of beautiful mansions and impressive lake views.