By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Jan 02, 2013 at 4:37 PM

When our office was on the East Side, unless I had a meeting, I rarely drove anywhere during the day. I could step outside my office and be at Whole Foods in two minutes, Qdoba in three and Beans in Barley in about one.

Now that our office is Downtown, I have even more walkable options, which is good, since parking in a garage really cuts down one's spontaneity for driving around for lunch.

However, when it's really cold out, walking anywhere is a pain, and only now am I coming to appreciate Downtown's extensive skywalk system.

For example, from the moment I left my desk until I set foot in the Grand Avenue Mall's food court (review on the new Jake's Deli coming soon), I was outside for a mere 38 seconds. That's barely enough time to get cold.

I entered through the 100 East Wisconsin building, walked up the stairs, crossed the skywalk over the Milwaukee River, then took the one south over Wisconsin Avenue, and finally west into the mall.

On the way back, I wanted to deposit a check in a US Bank ATM, so I took the skywalk east to the ASQ building, then stepped outside only because the bank had already closed. Couldn't be easier.

Of course, our skywalk pales in comparison to the one in Minneapolis, which spans eight miles and connects 69 blocks. Best I can tell, ours connects eight blocks with two links over the Milwaukee River, and there are a few links to the east, as well. According to an old article I found, the city had set aside some money in the '80s to connect them all, but then Mayor John Norquist killed that plan in 1988.

Still, I'm becoming a big fan of the skywalk system, and I'd like to see it expanded, both in length and usage. How about a happy hour bar crawl, or organized themed parties on each span?

Because even critics who say skywalks keep customers out of the shops on street level have to admit that walking when it's so cold outside isn't fun, either. At least this way, you can get a nice walk in without freezing your butt off, too.

The folks at UrbanMilwaukee did a nice job mapping out the skywalk. Take a look below.

View Milwaukee Skywalk Map in a larger map

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.