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Guest Aristurtle

Milwaukee, WI

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Guest Aristurtle

Anyone know anything about Milwaukee? I'm going to an MA program there and was wondering what the city was like - is it really a hidden cultural gem as some have told me?

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I have to say, as a Minnesota native who has spent some time living in Chicago, Milwaukee is actually a fun town. I've had a good time there in the summer time. Some free live concerts are abound and the art and public museum are great.

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Guest lovesick
Anyone know anything about Milwaukee? I'm going to an MA program there and was wondering what the city was like - is it really a hidden cultural gem as some have told me?

milwaukee seems like a very interesting city. i got into uwm for urban planning, but currently it's at the bottom of my list for reasons that have nothing to do with the location (except for the weather, maybe).

i still haven't been there, but i know a bit about its architecture. the big draw to the city over the past few years has been the calatrava extension of the art museum (the original building is by eero saarinen, one of my favorite 20th century architects). one of wisconsin's favorite sons is frank lloyd wright, and some of his system-built homes are in milwaukee (the wright-designed johnson wax headquarters are out in racine). and if you want to geek out over landscape architecture, there are some frederick law olmsted parks.

i believe milwaukee has been trying to shed its "beer" image and turn the city into something more urbane and modern and in keeping with the needs of its current residents (and the residents it hopes to attract). time will tell, but supposedly they've been doing a very good job so far.

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I've lived in Milwaukee for al but five years of my life (including currently). My friends and I have an unofficial motto for Milwaukee: "It's Not That Bad". I think this really sums it up well.

Culturally, there is a lot going on for a city of Milwaukee's size. The obvious stuff is MAM, the Public Museum, and the Zoo. But there are a number of excellent theatre productions (Pabst, Rep, UWM's theatre department, small troupes in the 3rd Ward), music and ballet (Marcus Center, UWM), and professional sports (Bucks, Brewers, Admirals, Wave). That said, there are not a lot of good mid-sized live music venues. The Rave is really the only one and it is crappy and managed terribly.

Livibility-wise, Milwaukee is quite good. There are a number of neighborhoods that appeal to a variety of tastes. The East Side neighborhood is an upper-middle class urban neighborhood within a long walk or short bus trip from downtown. You don't NEED a car in on the East Side, but most everyone has one. This is also where UWM is located. Riverwest is just across the Milwaukee River from the East Side (hence the name) and is one of the most integrated neighborhoods in the city. It functions as a "buffer" between the relatively affluent East Side and the hypersegregated Near North Side. Because of this, there is a higher crime rate, but also a more active youth-oriented arts scene. It has also seen a surge in homeownership rates and property values recently. A lot of trendy, hip bars and galleries. The third most appealing neighborhood to students is Bay View, an old Polish neighborhood south of downtown. This neighborhood has remained quite stable throughout the last few decades. Crime is the lowest in the city (even lower than the East Side), and it has recently become "trendy" for students and young families alike. It offers a number of tasty restaurants, bars, and a local organic grocery. Rents are much more reasonable than the East Side too. Finally, on the neighborhood tip, there is the Third Ward. This is the closest thing Milwaukee has to true dense, NY/SF-style urban living. Situated adjacent to downtown, this area has been nationally recognized as a model for urban redevelopment. The city has transformed this neighborhood from an old market and warehousing center into a dynamic live-work commercial center. Tons of riverfront lofts and condos, lots of galleries, restaurants and bars, and easy walking to downtown employment centers. With all this, comes a price, though. You'll pay a premium to live there, and it's mostly condos and for-sale lofts.

Socially and politically, Milwaukee is pretty messed up. Race and poverty are two huge issues that have not been properly dealt with, and you'll find that many residents, black and white, exhibit prejudice feelings toward each other. Segregation plays a huge role in perpetuating this. Also, politically, Milwaukee and the surrounding suburbs are deeply divided. It has come to the point where nearly anything Milwaukee wants/needs, the suburbs will oppose out of principle. Not a healthy metropolitan environment for long-term prosperity.

I guess I should rap up, as this is getting a little long-winded. If you have specific questions about Milwaukee or UWM, I can answer them for you as well.

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Guest Aristurtle

Thanks to everyone for all the great info on Milwaukee - it sounds like a nice place to live! About the car thing, is the public transportation any good and is there a decent amount of parking on the streets or do they have resident permit parking? Also, I was kind of excited about the "beer" image of the town! Is there a Schiltz factory still operating? Finally, what is the culture of UWM? Any places that one should definitely not live if one wants some peace and quite? Thanks!

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Guest imnotjesus
Thanks to everyone for all the great info on Milwaukee - it sounds like a nice place to live! About the car thing, is the public transportation any good and is there a decent amount of parking on the streets or do they have resident permit parking? Also, I was kind of excited about the "beer" image of the town! Is there a Schiltz factory still operating? Finally, what is the culture of UWM? Any places that one should definitely not live if one wants some peace and quite? Thanks!

Public transportation is limited. If you live on the East Side (where UWM is located), there is reliable bus service to downtown, but anything beyond that is a pain. The City provides one on-street parking permit per dwelling unit (see http://www.mpw.net/Pages/ppermits.html). It is a pain, because you have to get a separate permit for day and night, and there are restrictions in the winter months for snow plowing. Basically, if you are going to have a car, you should find a place with off-street parking.

The beer image is intact to some extent, but most of the "old school" breweries are long gone, including your beloved Schlitz. That building is now an office park. Pabst left town in the late 90s, leaving behind a hulking mass of abandoned buildings on the edge of downtown, which various developers have proposed to make into a residential/entertainment complex. Doubt it will happen in the next 10 years.

UWM's culture is very laid back. Not academic, not a super party school. The campus is situated in one of the highest priced neighborhoods in Milwaukee, so there is continual conflict between the residents and students. This keeps the craziness at bay, somewhat. That said, there are a lot of duplexs/flats near campus that are inhabited by students, and they can be pretty loud. I find it to be fun and interesting, particularly in the spring/fall/summer when everyone sits on their porches, bbqs, and generally hangs out.

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Guest Aristurtle

Damn, no Schlitz brewery! Well, at least there's still the Milwaukee Metal Fest! Thanks again for the useful tips - I'll definitely bring a car.

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Guest imnotjesus
I've also heard they have a great summer music fest . . . can't remember the name of the festival but some big time artists show up. And Miller Park is pretty sweet if you like baseball.

You almost had it! it's called "Summerfest", but there are also smaller festivals all summer long, themed after various ethnicities. Really, they are just excuses to drink overpriced beer, but a lot of people seem to like that sort of thing.

one lesser known factoid about milwaukee: there are fireworks EVERY WEEKEND in the summer. it's ridiculous, gratuitous and awesome.

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I figured I'd revive this topic :D

I just accepted Marquette's offer of admission for their philosophy MA program, so I'll be moving there. I'm not sure where I'll be living (my fiancee and I are going in May to look at apartments downtown-ish as well as on the east side). I have some familiarity, since I used to go to Milwaukee a lot when I lived in Chicago. It's been several years since I've spent any significant time there, however, so I'd be eager to hear others' thoughts on the city.

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Milwaukee has turned very hipster. Lots of festivals in the summer, Summerfest being the most popular--an 11-day music festival with bands for baby boomers, country-freaks and indie nerds. There are a ton of condos being erected in the Third Ward, undeniably the 'coolest' area of Milwaukee (where you'll find a number of small, classy restaurants, Alterra and Anthropologie). Shopping's good at Mayfair and Bayshore. The weather's great, thanks to the Lake Effect, which makes winters a little warmer and summers a little cooler.

I grew up in Milwaukee. I can answer (almost) any question!

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I worked in downtown Milwaukee (I commuted from the Kenosha area) for over 5 years and loved it. I'm not much on big cities, but Milwaukee has enough small-town feel to make a hayseed like myself feel less anxious. Milwaukee is one of my favorite cities, and to add a little weight to that opinion I'll let you know that I'm a big Chicago Bears fan and I endured much taunting about it. While it is true that it is not as big of a beer town as it once was, it will never not-be a beer town. Head on over to the Sprecher Brewery and take the tour and try their beers, you'll be glad you did (you can even buy Sprecher in Miller Park). Milwaukee's beer heritage is visible nearly throughout the town, you just have to look for it. I assume the following places still operate, the Milwaukee Ale House located on the river (http://www.ale-house.com/alehouse/), Zafero's Pizza which I think is closer to the University and has a damn good pie, and the Safe House can provide you a good kitschy time (www.safe-house.com). Check out www.onmilwaukee.com for stuff around the town. Personally, I'm a big of the Milwaukee School of Engineering's radio station, WMSE (www.wmse.org) for cool music and info. The lakefront will provide you hours of fun in the summer and there are plenty of fests besides Summerfest (Irish Fest, Polish Fest, of course German Fest etc.) but they have varying degrees of actual fun attached to them. I personally have had no problem with The Rave/Eagles Ballroom but it appears others have. If I hadn't missed the deadline for UWM I would have applied myself and gladly lived in Milwaukee.

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I lived in Milwaukee from May to August last summer for an internship, and was totally pleasantly surprised. I'm a Los Angeles native, so a LOT of my friends were laughing over the idea of me living in the Midwest, and especially in Wisconsin. But wow, I loved it! I'm glad I wasn't around for the winter (I can handle snow and cold temperatures, but not as much snow as Wisconsin gets), but I had a blast in the summer. I noticed a few mentions of Summerfest on here, but I gotta say I think Summerfest is HIGHLY overrated, but I think that's because my music tastes don't quite match up with the artists they tend to bring in.... But I still had fun on the days I went.

Really though, I wasn't bored ever in Milwaukee, which I think is saying a lot coming from an L.A. upbringing. Anyone who wants an outsider's perspectives, let me know. :) I was only there for three months, but it was as a reporter for the Journal Sentinel, so I got pretty immersed in the city in the short time I was there. I miss it, too, and can't wait to go back and visit soon!

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Bump!

I'm playing around with the idea of attending UW-Milwaukee for an MLIS (though I'm very early in the process of researching different schools). The assortment of dual-degree MA/MLIS programs totally appeals to me, and as a MN resident, the tuition reciprocity appeals to me even more.

A few questions-

Would anyone be able to tell me from experience how Milwaukee winters compare with Minneapolis winters? More snow, more cold, lake effect, not much difference, etc?

Can anyone tell me more about the campus environment? What is the student body like, politically? Are Greek houses (and their loud parties) a major factor on campus?

I'd really prefer not to get a car, so can I get around passably well using a combination of public transit, a bicycle, and my feet? Is there any bike culture in Milwaukee? Is it really hilly? (I've only ever been to the airport in Milwaukee.)

Thanks! :D

Edited by mnestic

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I moved to Milwaukee for undergrad to attend Marquette after being born and raised in Miami, FL. Milwaukee is an absolutely fantastic city. Great culture, music and the most underrated culinary city in the country.

As for the public transit, I actually found it incredibly useful and reliable. I didn't have a car for the four years I lived there and had no problems getting around, shopping/groceries, or going out. The busses run pretty late and have good coverage in the downtown, lakefront, marquette and east side areas. I think you'd be fine with the bus/bike/feet combo. The city has some hills (not very big) but I wouldn't call it "hilly." It's your typical downtown area with a waterfront. Pretty flat for the most part.

I've visited Minneapolis a handful of times during the winter months and the winter was comparable. Not much difference in temps or snow to be honest.

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I lived in Milwaukee for 2 years. I would concur that it is definitely one of the most under-rated cities in America. The city is generally clean and safe. Food is inexpensive. Wisconsinites like their beer and brats (a kind of sausage). Most of what they like is in their taste buds. There are a lot of festivals, which are really excuses to eat, drink, and listen to the best live bands of the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Definitely, take advantage of the many smaller festivals; they are quirky and fun. It's the only place I've ever lived where really fit trophy wives have beer bellies. I loved living there and really miss it.

I would like to spend my retirement in Wisconsin.

PM me for more info.

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What about the neighborhood surrounding Marquette? Is it a good/bad neighborhood? What is there to do, eat, etc around there? Where are good neighborhoods to live in that are close? Thanks!

Also, my frame of references for cities are within the Midwest. I grew up in Indianapolis and I live in Columbus right now. Honestly I don't like either city that much, Columbus I like a bit more, but I don't like how suburban and spread out it is. I'm hoping that Milwaukee, since it is a bit smaller, might be better as far as walking/biking and laid backness. How does Milwaukee compare to a place like Columbus Ohio?

Edited by woolfie

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I was recently accepted to UW-Milwaukee, so anything anybody could tell me about living in Milwaukee would be *really* helpful! I've spent the last six years in Boston... anybody know how the winters in Boston compare to those in Milwaukee? My bf and I are really into good food, music, beer, and low-key living, so it sounds like Milwaukee might be our kind of town. What's the cost of living like?

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I was recently accepted to UW-Milwaukee, so anything anybody could tell me about living in Milwaukee would be *really* helpful! I've spent the last six years in Boston... anybody know how the winters in Boston compare to those in Milwaukee? My bf and I are really into good food, music, beer, and low-key living, so it sounds like Milwaukee might be our kind of town. What's the cost of living like?

Water Street Brewery is good. You will hear people talk about Rock Bottom, but I never liked it very much. Sobleman's is over in Marquette's neighborhood, but well worth the drive. It is in the old industrial part of the city, and it looks rundown, but its a real gem. UWM is a nice area, so anything on the north side is going to be good (probably expensive).

To be blunt, Milwaukee is one of the most racially segregated cities in America. Generally speaking, UWM and the immediate area surrounding Marquette are good, as well as the "3rd Ward." White people usually live there. Milwaukee's south side has a large Hispanic population, and the west to northwest areas have large black populations. Personally, I lived near 25th and State St., which most (white) people will say is a bad part of town. I would have to agree. I wouldn't live there again if I had to move back to Milwaukee. I don't want to scare you-- I never had a problem, nor did any of my friends. But some of the characters who I would see at night...they did not make me feel the safest.

Lots of beer-drinking opportunities in Milwaukee. Ethnic-fests happen all the time, and are worth going to. The Brewers should be good this year...

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i've lived in milwaukee for about three years now, and i love it. in fact, i'm really depressed about the fact that i will have to leave soon (going for phd elswhere).

milwaukee is a great city. in my opinion, the winters are pretty mild. i grew up in a town where we get at least three times as much snow as we do here, so take the opinion with a grain of salt. it can get cold, but having the lake nearby keeps it slightly warmer in the winter (and slightly cooler in the summer). there are a lot of outdoorsy things to do around the city and surrounding areas in all seasons (skiing, biking, etc.). there are TONS of festivals all the time in the summer. it's a fun and laid back city.

i live in riverwest which is made of up the areas around humboldt blvd west to about holton st or so (bordered on the north by capitol and the south by north ave, although those are kind of "loose" borders). i would highly recommend this part of the city. it's diverse, has cheaper rents than the eastside (by the university), better parking, very community-oriented, lots of funky cafe's and bars. some would describe it as the sort of "counterculture" area. there are a fair amount of students there but lots of families too. others have made a go of living near campus and in shorewood (north of campus). rents will be more expensive there, maybe harder to find parking, but some people will tell you it's safer there. i've never felt threatened in my part of town, but if you're able to visit, you can check out areas for yourself. rents in riverwest for a one bedroom will probably typically be around $500 or so. i pay $560. it's a big apartment, heat is included, no extra fee for my dog, and i have a small yard. on the eastside a one bedroom is maybe closer to $700? i dunno, that might be a slightly high estimate, but if you check out craigslist or the neighborhood housing on the uwm website you can get a good idea of it. keep in mind that a lot of "apartments" in milwaukee are in older buildings that were divided into flats. there are some newer complexes, but the older ones i've seen are all fine. plus they have *charm.* :)

parking on campus can be a nightmare, so a lot of people either ride their bike, walk, or bus to school. the buses are pretty good, at least around campus and surrounding areas. i haven't used it much elsewhere in the city. and as a student you get a free bus pass, so that's pretty great.

as for music, there are a lot of small venues in town where local acts will play, and some bigger names play downtown (pabst, riverside, turner hall...all very cool, old buildings by the way). you will find that a lot of bands will bypass milwaukee in favor of chicago, but it's pretty easy to get down there too. and beer is a way of life here. plenty to be had, especially from local breweries (btw, i highly recommend the lakefront brewery tour, it's the best by far...and they have a fish fry too. a wisconsin fish fry is truly a sight to behold).

i'll be honest, i hated mke when i first moved here, but then something clicked and i don't want to leave. i will probably do my best to move back here when i'm done with school for good. it's a really awesome city and the people are really friendly. one thing i will tell you is to just pay fairly close attention to what's going on with the budget bill. as a grad student (and a ta, i'm assuming?), you might be affected by it (ta's here are union). i haven't really heard much about how future grad students will be affected after this semester, but it's worth looking into, if nothing else. i'm told that tuition remission will not be taken away from ta's though.

good luck!

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bump on milwaukee. people say certain areas aren't the best to live in, but the same is said about richmond (and in my opinion isn't true). what is the music scene like (namedrop bands or whatever)? how cold does it get (i grew up in the south)? is there a trainrider/traveler community?

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bump on milwaukee. people say certain areas aren't the best to live in, but the same is said about richmond (and in my opinion isn't true). what is the music scene like (namedrop bands or whatever)? how cold does it get (i grew up in the south)? is there a trainrider/traveler community?

I lived in Milwaukee for six years, undergrad and grad, and I really miss my apartment on the East Side near Brady street. Shout out to Dirot apartments on Cambridge, because they were great. There are a ton of great bars and restaurants there on Brady, and up on North ave. I'm not familiar with it, but I hear the Bay View area is pretty great, too. It does get pretty cold in the winters, though I think this past winter was pretty mild (relatively speaking, since in 2011 there was a massive snowstorm that slowed down the city big time). Expect it to be 20s, 30s in winter, and for there to be snow.

Sadly, there is not a train system, but city buses that are pretty good (though I don't have much to compare it to as I'm a big driving person). I had a car there my last couple years in the city, and most people I know did, too. Depending on where you live, there's usually street parking available if it's not available at your apartment building.

Have fun in MKE! :)

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