In case you missed the first few posts of the Summer Neighborhood Series, here's the scoop: My brand new handsome She Devil bike and I will be spending the rest of the summer exploring every nook and cranny of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods in hopes of inspiring you to explore, too.
There is no better time than summer to break out of your routine and try something new. This week, I head west to a cluster of neighborhoods that I’ve never visited before: Silver City, Burhnam Park and Layton Park. The community development group Layton Boulevard West Neighbors (LBWN) has made huge strides since 1995 in revitalizing this area. Will Seburn, Director of Communications and Fund Development of LBWN filled me on a few of their initiatives and guided me through the neighborhoods.
Stuck between Miller Park and the Mitchell Park Domes, all it takes is a seven-minute drive or a 20-minute bike ride from downtown. Catch the Hank Aaron State Trail near Canal Street and head west until you see the shiny arcs of Miller Park. With the Menomonee Valley right in its backyard, the colorful and neatly paved Valley Passage allows neighbors to easily walk to a Brewers game, hike the Hank Aaron State Trail, fish the Menomonee River, or appreciate the outdoors at the Urban Ecology Center.
Here are a few highlights from my day:
Diverse Dining: In Silver City, up and down (and jutting off) National Avenue, there were two Thai places, a Vietnamese Noodle Shop, a Peruvian, a Puerto Rican restaurant, an Irish Pub and a steakhouse. How’s that for diversity? We had lunch at Thai Lotus, serving Thai, Laos and Chinese food, and I immensely enjoyed every coconutty-curry bite and was even tempted to dig into Will’s perfect mound of Pad Thai. He says it’s his favorite version of this staple dish in the city. I also hear from a trusted source that Thai BBQ, right across the street, is amazing.
History Lesson: A block of Frank Lloyd Wright homes on 27th and Burnham ends with his American System Built model home, which is open to the public for free tours the second and fourth Saturday of each month. These turn-of-the-century homes feature German craftsmanship, unique architectural details and intricate stained-glass windows. And they stick out like a sore thumb (in a good way) on a block of more traditional homes.
Most Innovative Idea: In collaboration with the Wisconsin Bike Fed, LBWN is offering a Mobile Bike Hub around the neighborhood three days a week helping people fix their bikes and teaching them the basics of bicycle maintenance. The custom-built contraption is a pop-up tool shop, all pulled by a giant tricycle. All of their services are free and Jorian, its friendly and steadfast bicycle guru, will be at a new location each afternoon through September 20th. Click here to download the schedule.
Staying Active: Urban Ecology Center overlooks the Valley Passage that connects the Hank Aaron State Trail and the Menomonee Valley. The vibrant murals as you enter the trail tell the stories of the surrounding neighborhoods and funky metal bike racks allow you to stop, lock up and rest along the way.
Gathering Spot: Arlington Heights Park at 35th and Pierce features the Sounds of Summer, a free concert series. The next concert is August 21, with fresh vegetable vendors and two live bands starting at 6:30 p.m.
Also, the day I visited, Pocket Park at 29th and Burnham was the site of Artists Working in Education (AWE) free art for kids week, which offered projects like mural painting and chalk drawings to a few dozen kids. The small park adjacent to a cluster of homes also featured a dozen or so raised garden beds that neighbors and students from CARMEN High School of Science and Technology tend.
Layton Boulevard West Neighbors continues to assist neighbors with affordable housing, renovations and property improvements. Their Turnkey Homes project has been very successful in buying foreclosed properties, adding energy-efficient upgrades and then selling the homes to new home buyers. If only every neighborhood had a group like this, Milwaukee would be in great shape. To see more from these neighborhoods, watch the slideshow below:
Created with flickr slideshow.
Also, Adam Carr and Reggie Baylor’s public art project Typeface will be descending on Burnham Park – continue to check the site for more details.
Hey, you! Follow me on Twitter as @jkashou and search #GirlAboutTownNeighborhoods to stay on top of what’s happening around town.