I sometimes brag that I know Milwaukee so well, that all you have to do is tell me an address and I can pretty much get you there. With a few exceptions on the North and West Sides, I know my way around the whole city, but just because I pride myself on being a walking GPS, doesn't mean I visit all places equally.
In fact, ask yourself this question and please answer it seriously: How much of Milwaukee do you really see?
I bring it up because I had a meeting in Menomonee Falls yesterday, and partially to avoid I-94 construction, but partly out of curiosity, I opted to take Fond du Lac Avenue northwest all the way to get there. As I passed through a part of the city that I knew but didn't see very often, I was reminded of just how parochial my Milwaukee existence is.
The slow drive forced me to pay attention to my surroundings. True, I saw my share of boarded up businesses, but mostly I saw barber shops, cell phone stores, churches, auto parts supplies stores and day cares. I certainly wasn't driving through Milwaukee's worst neighborhoods; in fact, the Fondy corridor had a vibrant, if different, feel to it. Passing the former Capitol Court, I remembered shopping there. People still certainly shop in what it's turned into – just not me.
And that's my point. When I break it down, most of my life falls into a rectangular swath of activity that is bordered by the lake on the east, my office on the north, my home on the south, and perhaps as far as the Domes on the west. Of course, I get out of this little comfort zone to visit my parents or my in-laws or to go to Brewers games or to go to Mayfair. But the reality is, I can't remember the last time I went bowling at Silverbird Lanes on 84th St. and Silver Spring Dr., the alley I passed by yesterday. It probably was after buying an album at neighboring Mainstream Records, which is long gone.
I realized, regretfully, that if two-thirds of the City of Milwaukee would cease to exist, it would have little effect on me. Which makes me part of the problem, and I take no pride in admitting this.
So, how about you? If you like in the City of Milwaukee, how much of it do you see on a regular basis? I, personally, hope to see more. While I don't see myself doing my grocery shopping on the north side, I will visit the Fondy Farmers Market this summer. And next time a meeting takes me to Menomonee Falls, I will absolutely, positively get there taking city streets.
Milwaukee is a strange place. I have lived here a little more than two years, but I have friends who have been here close to 10 years (since they were freshmen in college) and the vast majority of them never leave the 2 mile radius that includes the UWM campus, the East Side, or Riverwest. They rarely venture out of their little enclave to experience other parts of the city and/or metro area. They don't understand why I come down so hard on Milwaukee because in the little world they have chosen to relegate themselves to everyone is white, liberal, educated, etc. They don't see the ugly side of Milwaukee that includes rampant segregation, poverty, or violent crime.
The longer I live here the more I want to go back to Denver. When I lived there I would travel anywhere and everywhere without hesitation. I could take a bus up to Boulder for the day, I could take the light rail to Park Meadows Mall in the southern suburbs, I could get amazing dim sum at the Far East Marketplace on S. Federal in Denver, or amazing pho along S. Parkder Rd. in Aurora, see a concert at Red Rocks in Morrison, or any number of other things that were spread over a region with nearly twice as many residents as Southeast Wisconsin. If Bayshore, Brookfield, and Mayfair weren't located outside of the city, I doubt I would ever go to the suburbs at all. There's segregation occurring that's city vs. suburbs, then again within the city. If you want to live in a decent area of Milwaukee, then you pretty much have to live within a mile or so of the lake. It makes for a very discombobulated metropolitan area, a gentrified lakefront with wealthy satellites surrounding it.
Your reasoning may make sense for people who lack a car, but otherwise is pretty weak. Who doesn't venture outside of their neighborhood for things like eating out, going to a bar, seeing a show, etc? Not many people I know. But most white people don't do that very often in the black part of town. OnMilwaukee is living proof - almost all the articles are about businesses and events on the east side, downtown, bay view, and riverwest. Tarnoff says he doesn't see certain parts of town very often. Well golly, why do you think that is? Is it cause he's a neighborhood recluse who never leaves a five block radius? Of course not. So why doesn't he see these other neighborhoods as much? Probably because we live in a very segregated city and he doesn't frequent places in the black part of town. No one claimed it was cause of "fear", and in fact I applaud Tarnoff for even broaching the subject, but spare us the Pollyanna reasoning that it's cause we're too lazy to go beyond 2 miles.
I love how race and/or fear always seem to get mentioned ...whatever.
The truth is that most trips we take are less than 2 miles in length. Think about what your weekly/monthly routine is. Outside of commuting to work everything you do is usually in your neighborhood, that is how neighborhoods evolve. Why would I go to the Fondy Mrkt if I can walk to south shore park for the market there? Why would I go to Brady St for brunch if I can ride my bike to State st in Tosa?
People are generally creatures of habbit, just try mixing up your commute one day...dont take the freeway, or go past every turn you normally make by a block and see something new, it feels weird. Its amazing how foreign things feel when the norm is broken, but you do get to see cool stuff!!
I do like the idea of a hidden MKE month that highlights off the path places.
Andy Tarnoff | May 11, 2011 at 12:40 p.m. (report)
In case anyone thinks the contrary, race or safety are not the reasons I haven't found myself in this part of town. As I said, I hope to get to more of these places, like the Fondy Market, this summer.
I'd like to see a Milwaukee challenge. To get folks from all parts of town to explore other parts of town. Milwaukee has so much going on in all neighborhoods - its worth exploring as a "Milwaukee Undiscovered" month Andy - like a restaurant or bar month. Do it, blog on it. Heck have the whole staff down there do it. Find all the treasures everywhere. I dare ya! (and maybe we can see some more coverage of other parts of Milwaukee too that way). Thx for sharing your feelings and insights. I hope it generates a lot of discussion or at least gives people food for thought.
That's how I feel about the parks too - so many wonderful park gems in all neighborhoods of Milwaukee yet, not everyone knows about them. Many stories to be told from all parts of the city and county. Exciting proposition to tell them! Might help break down barriers, open eyes and change perceptions throughout the area.
Show me the other 3 Talkbacks
8 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published Sept. 18, 2016
Typically, my annual early reviews of the Apple's new flagship phone are called "24 hours with the new iPhone." That tight time frame wasn't possible this year, because the new iPhone 7 took more than a day and a half just to update all my apps, photos, videos and iCloud data. I only started to really see it work as promised by Saturday night.
Published Sept. 16, 2016
When Katrina Cravy signs off from FOX 6 on Oct. 12, it will mark the end of a 20-year chapter in her life, but another one is about to open. While the 46-year-old anchor, reporter and host has been a fixture at her station for almost 18 years, she's preparing to embark on a career at a media relations consultant, speaker and author.
Published Sept. 14, 2016
On Thursday, Rahny Taylor returns to Milwaukee radio as morning host at 97.3 NOW, replacing the syndicated "Elvis Duran Show." It's been a secret Taylor's been keeping for a while. Unlike his last gig in town with Wes McKane and Ally Faith, he's doing this one solo.
Published Sept. 2, 2016
In 2004, Tim Schneider opened The Shop in Bay View's Hide House. Fast forward to 2016, and the motorcycle repair/customization shop - that only works on Japanese and European bikes - averages a 6-8 week waiting list, and their phone rings off the hook. It was time to move.
Published Aug. 31, 2016
Former Brewers pitchers Dave Bush and Seth McClung spent a lot of time standing for the national anthem during their careers. Like their teammates, rising was expected of them before every game, so when Colin Kaepernick made a statement by refusing to stand before an exhibition game last week, ex-players took note.
Published Aug. 29, 2016
Today, Verizon data speeds got faster. Verizon just rolled out its LTE Advanced technology to bring 50% faster peak wireless data speeds to more than 288 million people in 461 cities, including Milwaukee.
Published Aug. 22, 2016
I've said it for years. Door County means different things to different people. Whether your idea of this magical peninsula is nature or adventure, shopping or relaxing, friends or family - or a mix of everything above, one storyline arcs above all the rest: Door County is what you make it.
Published Aug. 19, 2016
My friend Drew Olson has a new work address. The veteran Milwaukee sports journalist / broadcaster - and former OnMilwaukee.com senior editor - ended an 11-year run as a talk-show host at ESPN Milwaukee (540 AM) last week and will begin a new chapter with The Big 920 (WOKY) on Monday.
Published Aug. 18, 2016
This Saturday, Priscilla Presley - actress, activist and, perhaps most notably, widow of Elvis - is coming to Milwaukee for "Elvis and Me," an open conversation at The Pabst Theater about the life and experiences of the original First Lady of rock 'n' roll.
Published Aug. 3, 2016
I didn't really even know I was interested in driving a motorcycle until the House of Harley invited me to take a Riding Academy New Rider course. In three days, I checked something off my bucket list that I didn't know was on it. I took it seriously, and it was hard. But also really satisfying.