Welcome to Milwaukee’s Avenues West, a neighborhood born of contrasts in the late 1800s: the grandeur of mansion-lined Grand Avenue, the poverty of Irish workers on Tory Hill, and the ambition of a bit of college named Marquette. Like so many in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a neighborhood poised for change.
Just west of downtown, Avenues West runs from 11th to 27th Streets, Highland Avenue to Clybourn Street — or, using the most prominent landmark, it is the northwest quadrant of the Marquette Interchange. This neighborhood has been a study in contrasts since its inception in the late 1800s.
Milwaukee, WI elite gravitated west along Spring Street in the 1870s, so many that by 1876 the thoroughfare was renamed “Grand Avenue.” Mansions owned by Cudahy, Plankington, and Pabst contrasted with the Tory Hill homes of the primarily Irish workers of the Menomonee Valley. The city experienced a population boom, money started moving outside the city, and mansions became apartments or multi-family dwellings. The Gothic parish Church, Gesu, arrived in 1894; Marquette became a university in 1907; the Irish began moving to Merrill Park, and other residents took their place: Eastern Europeans first, then Latinos and African Americans. When the city expanded farther west during the first part of the century, and Grand Avenue became “Wisconsin Avenue,” new institutions like the Ambassador Hotel and the Eagles Club helped keep up appearances, unwittingly or not emphasizing the contrasts. The 1960s construction of the Marquette Interchange cemented Avenues West as a distinct neighborhood, where contrasts co-existed and still do so. Bed Bug Exterminator Milwaukee
Today, Avenues West is the urban setting of its most well-known institution, Marquette University, which continues to expand its footprint well beyond its original 1881 building at 1004 W. State Street. The new 750-bed Robert A. Wild, S.J. Commons (pictured) is slated to open this fall. It follows on the heels of an almost two-decade building boom: the School of Dentistry, the John P. Raynor, S.J. Library, the Al McGuire Center, Eckstein Hall’s Law School, Engineering Hall, and the Dr. E.J. O’Brien Jesuit Residence. An inflatable dome recently transformed Marquette’s Valley Field into a year-round facility and a new athletic performance research center is planned just east of campus in Westown. Additional plans include a BioDiscovery District and Innovation Alley for the new business school and recreation facility. Even with all the new additions for its over 11,000 students, Marquette University remains rooted — physically and philosophically — in its urban location, balancing its ability to build a further 96-million-dollar residence hall in less than a year and foster in its students an understanding of the community and a dedication to service.
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