As a part of the Primary Pedestrian Corridor Development Project, which seeks to develop primary walking corridors between major downtown activity centers like Wisconsin Avenue, Water Street and Kilbourn Avenue, the Milwaukee Department of Public Works has recently started to introduce new street signage, including what they're calling "pedestrian wayfinding systems."
The brightly colored signs act as easy and aesthetically pleasing reference guides to specific Downtown points of interest, such as Pere Marquette Park, Shops of Grand Avenue, the Riverside Theater and the Old World 3rd Street area.
The City has also implemented pedestrian kiosks with a wayfinding map and historical information in both the Westown and East Town neighborhoods. Westown's, which is located in front of the Shops of Grand Avenue, has been up since summer 2005. New "street identifiers" have also been added to existing street signs that identify the neighborhood under the street name.
Milwaukee Downtown B.I.D. #21 executive director Beth Nicols says that the signs were designed to guide visitors to major destinations, and to generally make Downtown more user-friendly.
"The more user-friendly Downtown is, the more people will feel comfortable visiting," she says.
Westown Association Executive Director Ellen Winters agrees. "It's a really neat thing. The signs are fantastic and I think this is happening at a great time, with the Marquette Interchange construction constantly changing and diverting traffic. If a person is used to getting off on one exit, but can't due to construction, they might find themselves in an area of Downtown that is unfamiliar to them. With these signs, they can immediately see which way is North and go from there. It helps mitigate navigation."
Initial streetscape improvements began in summer 2005 on Wisconsin Avenue from N. 2nd to N. 4th streets. The area received new sidewalks, curbs, and granite planters with ornate metalwork as part of Federal Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality Grants to foster a pedestrian-friendly walking environment with corridors connecting activity centers downtown.
According to Nicols, the streetscape plan will be implemented incrementally over the next couple of months, with Wisconsin Avenue being completed by the end of 2006.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”