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Get tuned up by walking across new piano keys in East Town.
Get tuned up by walking across new piano keys in East Town. (Photo: P. Adams)
Take a walk on the jazzy side.
Take a walk on the jazzy side. (Photo: P. Adams)
Who says DPW can't have fun?
Who says DPW can't have fun? (Photo: P. Adams)
Cathedral Square Park and the Jazz in the Park stage in the background.
Cathedral Square Park and the Jazz in the Park stage in the background. (Photo: P. Adams)
The Wells Street ebony and ivory.
The Wells Street ebony and ivory. (Photo: P. Adams)

New piano key crosswalks tune up East Town

Social media makes things happen. 

Two months ago UrbanMilwaukee posted a photo of a pedestrian crosswalk that was tuned up to look like piano keys. Peter Adams, assistant director at the East Town Association, shared the photo with a note along the lines of "wouldn't this look great in East Town?" 

Shortly thereafter Ghassan Korban, Commissioner of Public Works at the City of Milwaukee, contacted East Town to say he thought the piano striping was a great idea.

Since Milwaukee's East Town neighborhood is home to Jazz in the Park, the City thought it was more than fitting that two of its crosswalks take the shape of piano keys. Made perfect sense. 

Today, at Kilbourn and Jefferson Streets and Wells and Jefferson Streets, the new crosswalks were painted in. Check them out when you hit Jazz in the Park next. 

I love this type of public art. And, Adams said that city engineers made sure that the keys were to scale.

"They are as close to scale as a real piano on a street can be," said Adams.

DPW hopes to install additional creative public art cross walks in the Historic Third Ward. They'll be used to connect the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) to its union. 

Until then, enjoy some piano playing and walking in East Town. 

Greater Milwaukee is smart.
Greater Milwaukee is smart. (Photo:

Milwaukee tops yet another national list

Richard Florida has another good piece on today. 

In "Are These America's Brainiest Cities?" he explores and compares brain performance (memory, processing speed, flexibility, attention and problem solving) data from an entity called Lumos Labs. 

Smaller metro areas and college towns dominate the brainy lists with both Madison (8) and Appleton (12) landing in the top 15.  But when the survey was expanded to larger metro areas, "(those with over one million people) on Lumosity's overall cognitive performance index," writes Florida, Milwaukee is the highest-ranked large metro.  Minneapolis-St. Paul is second, Boston third, Pittsburgh fourth and Indianapolis fifth.

The "brainiest" city in America? Stanford. Milwaukee comes in at No. 26.

You can read about the data and methodology here

Obey these signs and ones on the streets.
Obey these signs and ones on the streets.
Stop for pedestrians.
Stop for pedestrians.

Stop for pedestrians

My guess is that you generally ignore Yield to Pedestrians signs.  

Even if one is placed in the middle of Lincoln Memorial Drive or prominently at the Riverwalk, you probably see it but ignore it and let the walkers wait.  Most do.  I’m not judging.    

I don’t ignore these signs.  Yet, usually when I stop at them I get a finger or honk from the car behind me.  Whatever, dude.  I’m in the right, you’re being a jerk.  OK, jerk’s a bit strong.  But really, stop for the pedestrians.  You’re not in that much of a hurry.     

Great cities are built for people.  Yes, cars, streetcars, busses, buildings, etc. are vital, but cities need to first function on a walkable, human scale.  Thus, it’s important to find ways to soften traffic and for us to stop for pedestrians.  Obeying the law, of course, also is important.  

Maybe my passion around pedestrian safety stems from my Downtown lifestyle.  I lived on Wells St. in Downtown Milwaukee for nearly a decade and saw how cars disobeyed signs and stripes and consistently put pedestrians at risk.   It made me not only fight for better signs and enforcement, but also to get the street changed to two-way traffic.  

I love my car and drive it well and fast.  So, maybe since I consistently break the speed limit laws while obeying the stop for pedestrian laws I’m a bit of hypocrite.  Whatever.  

My point here is please stop for pedestrians.  And, when you’re walking be smart and don’t tempt traffic. Great walkability makes for a better city and that’s something we can all cheer for. 

It's back.
It's back. (Photo: Pizza Man via Facebook)

Pizza Man sign is up on Downer

In case you haven’t walked or driven down Downer Avenue in the past few days, I’m here to tell you that a bit of legendary East Side design has returned to the city in the form of the well recognized, if not finely designed, Pizza Man sign.

Say what you will about its shape, but this thing is (warning here comes a massively overused word) an iconic Milwaukee sign.

Pizza Man’s development is coming along nicely.  Mid-to-late July is the new target grand reopening range. You can follow it on Facebook.