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Haymarket Square might still be a light industrial area to an extent, but I'd bet not for long.
Haymarket Square might still be a light industrial area to an extent, but I'd bet not for long.

17 photos of Milwaukee's next hot neighborhood

For the reasons discussed here, I'm convinced that Milwaukee's simmering Haymarket Square area, just north of Downtown, is the city's next hot neighborhood.

Recently, I did a self-guided, come-what-may tour of the neighborhood with Adam Carr of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, which led to this bucket list story (or as we call it here at "snake button" story).

At the moment, Haymarket Square still has a number of old – and some not so old – light industrial buildings that remain in use...

But, it's got a great location on the edge of Downtown...

And it seems pretty likely that a new arena and entertainment complex will be built on the south end of the area...

There is some fine old building stock, like this firehouse...

And the warehouse across the street ... you know, the one with the corn...

Along with this cool old Vogue Cleaners building (you've got to look up):

And there are already plenty of signs of life, including a thriving Schlitz Park to the east, and a Boys and Girls Club and a new home for Sojourner Family Peace Center going up to the west. The neighborhood is home to MPS' Golda Meir School for the Gifted and Talented, one of the best schools in town – which recently kicked off a new high school program, too – as well as the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. A new bank and adjacent park opened last year.

There are also some residential units...

And RedLine Milwaukee art gallery and artists' studios:

You can buy tropical fish...

And nails...

You can play shuffleboard (if you bring your own pucks and sticks, or whatever the gear is called)...

Most days, the neighborhood smells like fresh pretzels or donuts...

All that, PLUS there are quaint historical details...

Parking lots with Pacers...

Auto repair shops with sheep...

And, last but not least, these things...

What do you think, Kenoshesi? Is Luigi's the best?
What do you think, Kenoshesi? Is Luigi's the best?

Kenosha's best pizza

OK, I admit that I've led you here under (potentially) false pretenses. What I really want is for you, dear readers, to tell me about the best pizzerias in Kenosha.

After a day of battling insane crowds at the outlet mall this weekend, we had a yen for pizza, and knowing that Kenosha is nearly as Italian as Cosenza, we figured there must be some insanely good pizza joints.

We'd been to Mangia fairly recently and we'd been to Infusino's, though that was eons ago. So, we flipped an imaginary coin and selected Luigi's over Villa d'Carlo, because we really don't know who has the best pizza in K-Town.

That's why I said "potentially" up there in the first paragraph. Because, it's possible that Luigi's, 7531 39th Ave., is the apex.

In a pretty unassuming building, with a pretty modest dining room, Luigi's dishes up really good thin crust pizza, with a wide variety of toppings. The cheese is just salty enough, the sauce is sweet and tangy, and the sausage has a bit of spice.

A two-topping large (16-inch) runs $16.50. There's also a "Gutbomb," with a slew of toppings that runs $25 for a large.

The dough seemed a tad overworked and chewy, which prevents me saying the pizza was absolutely amazing, but it was otherwise top-notch.

The same could be said about the odd peanut butter and jelly pizza, at which we initially scoffed. But we decided to try it and when it came, piping hot, we found it to be sacrilicious. Our kids, perhaps surprisingly, refused to touch it. Warning: if you order it, go slowly, as the hot jelly can wreak havoc on the roof of your mouth if you dive in too quickly.

One of us is a big fan of gnocchi (well, more than one of us, but one is on a gnocchi jag lately) and opted for the gnocchi on the kids menu, which comes at a kids menu price (a steal at $3) but in an adult serving with a big plate of gnocchi, topped with a large tasty meatball and red sauce.

The problem with gnocchi is that so few places make a really, really good example – pillowly…

Washington Park Library super readers!
Washington Park Library super readers! (Photo: Milwaukee Public Library)

Create a Super Reader and prevent your child taking the "summer slide"

It's that time of year again. The time when I'm thrilled that my kids are thrilled to sign up for Milwaukee Public Library's Super Reader summer reading program.

This year's program kicked off on Monday, May 18 and runs through Aug. 29 (MPS is back in session on Tuesday, Sept. 1). Kids 0-12 can visit any MPL branch and sign up for free. They'll get a Super Reader yard sign or window cling and a sheet to track their reading over the summer.

Each time they complete a level, they can head back to the library and get a prize. At the end of summer they'll get more goodies, like free books, food coupons and admission to area attractions.

Teens 13-18 can take part in the summer "Put Your Face in a Book" program.

Each May, my kids can't wait to sign up.

One morning at breakfast, they shaded in the progress circles based on the previous day's reading and were proud of their early progress. Later, one of them said, "I think I'm becoming a book person."

Music to a parent's ears.

The National Summer Learning Association says that the "summer slide" – the brain drain that comes from kids' absence from the classroom – affects their progress and also negatively affects the achievement gap.

"Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months," according the NSLA's web site. "Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains. 

"More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities."

"Last year nearly 21,000 children participated," said Mayor Tom Barrett in a statement this week. "We want more. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s really important. I encourage parents, grandparents, caregivers and teachers to bring the children in their lives to a Milwaukee Public Library to sign-up and to give them the support and encouragement …

Declining district enrollments led to the closing of Roosevelt School in 1996.
Declining district enrollments led to the closing of Roosevelt School in 1996.

A pair of school visits offers contrasting images

This morning the folks in the facilities department of the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District were kind enough to give me a tour of a closed school building – which I feature in a longer piece.

As an added bonus, my tour guide offered to show me an interesting school nearby, too. That one – a merger of two formerly separate school programs and their physical plants – is still open.

Some quick background. Roosevelt, 932 S. 60th St., was built in 1921 and closed in 1996. The district is currently in the process of selling it (more on that next week). It's a modest, but lovely old building that sits idle, with barely an echo of the children that once brought it to life.

About a mile away is Horace Mann Elementary, 6213 W. Lapham St., a K-5 school with an enrollment around 600. The school occupies two school buildings that were once separate but have since been joined.

Washington (below) was built as an elementary school in 1925, as an addition to the original Washington School, which was erected in 1902 (scroll to the bottom for an image).

Mann (below) was constructed as a junior high school in 1930 on the site of the 1902 Washington building, just to the west of the current Washington.

In 1997, the schools merged. These formerly separate buildings are joined by that section with the windows in the middle of the photo below.

After having wandered the stark, dim, quiet halls and classrooms at Roosevelt, seeing Horace Mann alive with activity, the chatter of young voices and the colorful artwork lining the corridors was striking.

Welcome to Roosevelt:

Welcome to Horace Mann:

At Roosevelt, you get a great view of the kindergarten room fireplace:

Meanwhile, at Mann – in one of the old Washington School kindergarten rooms – the fireplace is obscured. But, with colorful signs of activity. What you can't see in the photo is the room full of smiling kids standing behind the photographer.

Gym at Roosevelt:

Gym at Horace Mann: