A city is only as good as the stories it tells. And, as I say almost daily, we all have the shared responsibility to tell the Milwaukee story.
This is our city, our area, our time to shine. And shine we will.
So, today, it’s exciting to help launch a series of stories that will not only complement our daily content here at OnMilwaukee, but also help shine lights on one of our city’s best features (and the OnMilwaukee logo), the Hoan Bridge.
That’s right, years of preparation have led to this day. Beginning today, you can purchase a $25 bulb on the Hoan Bridge and light it up for someone that you love, someone you think moves Milwaukee forward or someone that you just know needs a brighter look at the world.
A collective of local business and civic leaders (full disclosure: I'm a part of the group) formed Light the Hoan as a committee of the Daniel Hoan Foundation. This week, the group will officially launch a public crowdsourcing campaign to help raise more than $1.5 million to light up Milwaukee’s famous yellow arches. The funds will be used to install thousands of LED lights on the bridge.
However you see the Hoan Bridge, this is an exciting, signature effort, and one that OnMilwaukee is honored to be a part of. This bridge is a connection to the city, a bridge that used to go nowhere, a bridge that once was broken (remember when OnMilwaukee had the Band-Aid on our logo?), the best way home from the airport ... this bridge is an icon in Milwaukee and means something to all of us.
Similar efforts have been embraced in San Francisco and Edmonton and have driven tourism, beautification efforts and civic pride. Milwaukee's crowdfunding campaign will be driven by individual bulb purchases and dedications on the Light the Hoan site.
"More than a unique urban infrastructure project, Light the Hoan is running a grassroots campaign to change Milwaukee’s skyline, and also to designate the structure as a symbolic representation of the positive stories that bridge Milwaukeeans together," said the group’s co-founder, Michael Hostad.
Once you buy a bulb and the money is raised, Milwaukee’s Hoan Bridge will be illuminated in recognition of the countless unseen or under-celebrated acts of kindness, generosity and service that give our city hope.
"The Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge has long been a symbol of Milwaukee," said Mayor Tom Barrett. "This effort to light the bridge up demonstrates the next generation’s commitment to putting their mark on the future of the City."
After the bulbs are installed, the Light the Hoan group says the bridge will serve as a nightly reminder of community relationships and provide a symbol of support for events such as holidays, festivals and other city-wide causes. The project may also utilize technology that could allow for interactivity and programming the lights to "dance" to music.
The Daniel Hoan Foundation has entered into a public-private partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, wherein private funds raised by Light the Hoan’s crowdsourcing effort will be leveraged to raise additional philanthropic, foundation and corporate support to reach the total goal of just over $5 million. The DOT will help lead the state procurement process to design and construct the lighting system and support its operations and management.
Milwaukee’s come a long way in the past 12-15 years. Development, technology, infrastructure and, of course, media (I say, patting my company on the back). Dining, entertainment and sports, too. Really, what we've done is create passionate community together. This Hoan Bridge effort helps build upon all of the great stuff that's already happening in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee is home. And cities are always evolving and never complete. Thus, Milwaukee will never be done. It’s dynamic and it rocks. But we need more upcycling. More innovation. More collaboration. More local storytelling. More local ambassadors. More local love. More mixing. Innovative transit options. More shaking things up. More people breaking through the resistance we too often feel and doing big things.
So, do your part. Light the Hoan now!
Pending fundraising success, a public lighting ceremony is slated for next summer.
Constructed between 1970 and '72, the Hoan Bridge spans nearly two miles across Interstate 794. The tied-arch bridge didn’t open to the public until 1977, earning it the nickname "Bridge to Nowhere," and was famously used to film a car crash scene in the 1976 movie "The Blues Brothers." The bridge is named for Daniel Hoan, a socialist who served more than 24 years as Milwaukee’s mayor.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.