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Menomonee Valley

The Menomonee Valley or Menomonee River Valley is a U-shaped land formation along the southern end of the Menomonee River in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Because of its easy access to Lake Michigan and other waterways, the neighborhood has historically been home to the city’s stockyards, rendering plants, shipping, and other heavy industry. It was also a primary source of pollution for the river.

Glacial meltwater formed the Menomonee Valley over 10,000 years ago when the Lake Michigan Lobe of the Wisconsin Glaciation retreated and eroded a swath four miles (6 km) long and half a mile wide. Today, it is bounded by the 6th Street Viaduct near the river confluence and Miller Park stadium to the west. The valley cuts Milwaukee in half, limiting access to several viaducts spanning the chasm. Bed Bug Exterminator Milwaukee

With a historically predominantly white south side and black near the north side, the valley has been perceived as a social and racial divide during civil unrest. In the 1960s, Father James Groppi organized protests against segregation in Milwaukee and led several fair housing marches across this symbolic divide. The 16th Street Viaduct has since been renamed in his honor.


Great wild rice once grew in the confluence marshland and along the river’s shores, which the Menomonee (also spelled Menominee) Indians named for its “good seed.” These wetlands provided them with the staples of life and allowed for access further inland. Archaeologist Charles Brown later identified five settlements along the valley rim. Another fourteen archaeological points of interest have since been marked within the valley based on historical accounts, but something would likely be found because of improvements. By the 19th century, displaced Potawatomi were the primary residents.

Missionary Jacques Marquette is the first European to explore the area, with other French-Canadian fur traders arriving in the late 17th century. However, the first permanent trading post was established by Jacques Vieau in 1795 while employed by the North West Company. Vieau built his cabin on a bluff overlooking the Menomonee Valley in Mitchell Park. Solomon Juneau joined him in 1818 and started one of three settlements incorporated into the City of Milwaukee, WI.


Reshaping of the valley began with the railroads built by city co-founder Byron Kilbourn to bring products from Wisconsin’s farm interior to the port. By 1862 Milwaukee was the largest shipper of wheat on the planet, and related industry developed. Grain elevators were built, and due to Milwaukee’s dominant German immigrant population, breweries sprang up around the processing of barley and hops. In addition, several tanneries were constructed, of which the Pfister & Vogel tannery grew to become the largest in America.

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