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The largest city in Wisconsin is primarily associated with beer. For many years, it was the home of several of the world’s major producers of the popular beverage. It was also, because of its reputation as a “working man’s city,” a disembarkation point for huge numbers of immigrants. These two disparate but related origins contributed to the city’s cultural tradition which is still evident in many of the neighborhoods, and even in the downtown area.
My walk begins at Cathedral Square, which runs along E. Wells Street, a few blocks from the Milwaukee River. Across from the square’s eastern end is St John the Evangelist Cathedral. The square is the site of several city gatherings and festivals during the year.
From here, walk west on E. Wells Street, to visit the imposing and impressive City Hall, once the tallest building in the world (from 1895 to 1899). It reaches 353 feet, and is still a significant city landmark. Be sure to carefully observe the stained glass windows, ceilings, and intricately carved woodwork of the interior.
As you continue walking westward, note the Pabst Theater, near the intersection with Water Street. Now, cross the river and turn left on Plankington Street, to Wisconsin Avenue, and turn right, along the Shops of Grand Avenue. Continue westward, although shoppers will want to enter the mall and make their way among the many shops. When you cross 11th Street, you are entering the campus of Marquette University. At 14th Street, turn left to visit the St Joan of Arc Chapel. Actually, this small, Gothic church was built in France and stood in the Rhone River valley for almost 500 years before being moved, first to Long Island, NY (1927), and then to Milwaukee (1965).
Next, return to Wisconsin Avenue and turn left, continuing westward, to reach the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion, at the intersection of 20th Street. The Flemish-Renaissance architecture of this palatial residence, built in 1892, is distinctive. The sumptuous interior is also worthy of the tourist’s time.
After your visit, walk north on 20th Street, and turn right on Wells Street. The Milwaukee Public Museum, with natural history and cultural history exhibits, is located at the intersection with 8th Street, on the left.
Continue eastward, re-crossing the Milwaukee River, and then turn right on N. Water Street, to access and sample Milwaukee’s Riverwalk, a scenic, pedestrian-only walkway along the river, which features many shops and restaurants.
When you reach Michigan Street, walk eastward, away from the river. This street eventually enters Lake Park, one of the city’s premier public areas along Lake Michigan. Turn left on Art Museum Drive to get to the Milwaukee Art Museum, housed in a distinctive, modern building.
Now, continue northward, through the park, as far as Well Street, and then turn left, to return to Cathedral Square.