Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Skywalk Map

By - Mar 21st, 2009 10:52 am
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We attempted to create a map of all the skywalk connections in Milwaukee, including the longest line that runs through The Shops of Grand Avenue.

While from an urbanist’s perspective we still would prefer you choose the sidewalk, here’s a map for those of you looking for other connections. Next up is mapping the empty retail spaces that are on roads paralleling a skywalk route.


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16 thoughts on “Milwaukee Skywalk Map”

  1. Jeremy H says:

    Hilton connection to the Midwest Airlines Center? Also, there is a connection to the Boston Lofts/Boston Store building from the parking garage to the west but not sure if that connects up to the greater Grand Ave system.

  2. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Jeremy, thanks for noticing my omissions. Added them in. Not sure if it connects myself. Hopefully someone else will confirm, or it looks like I’ll have to do a little investigation over there (as much as walking skywalks can be considered investigation).

  3. Ray says:

    Midwest Airlines Center does connect to Hilton. Confirmed by looking at Google Streetview. Great map Jeramey.

  4. jason says:

    “While from an urbanist’s perspective we still would prefer you choose the sidewalk…”

    What makes the sidewalk the pinnacle of urban commuting? While The Shops of Grand Avenue leave much to be desired, it’s a better walk than the corresponding stretch of Wisconsin Ave. Quite frankly, I would like to see a skywalk system that bests the five mile + Minneapolis network. The ability to walk from the US Bank Center to the courthouse in January (and to arrive with clean, dry shoes) would keep me out of my car. That is this urbanists preference.

  5. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Jason – The complete street is the pinnacle of urban commuting with sidewalks, streetscaping, room for cars and transit, and bicycling.

    The skywalk sure is tempting in the winter. Ideally though we could have a streetcar system (or some form of downtown loop system) to move us around. Along with heated stations.

    Wisconsin Avenue is the way it is as a result of Grand Avenue. If the stores faced the street the street would be in much better shape and a more enjoyable walk.

    The problem with skywalks is that do not enable organic growth, much like a shopping mall. They’re closed systems.

    An article I guess I should write. The urbanist goal isn’t that you have to walk, it would be that you have a short commute for all aspects of your life. In Milwaukee because of the winter it seems practical that a reliable people-moving transit system in downtown should be part of that. I’m not sure if there is a way that a skywalk could not kill the street it runs along, but it’s an issue I’ll explore this week in an article.

  6. MilwaukeeD says:

    The Boston Store skywalk does connect up with the Grand Ave. It takes you to the Third Floor of the Boston Store building, which is the entrance to Bon-Ton’s offices. You need to take the elevator down to floor 1 or 2 to enter the Boston Store and to access the rest of the skywalk system. However, this connection is only open during Boston Store hours.

  7. Nate Holton says:

    I think there’s differing views on skywalks, both sides reasonable. They can harm the look and vitality of the streets and occasionally create sketchy areas underneath the skywalks, but they are clutch in the winter in a city like Milwaukee (or Minneapolis). I appreciate the urbanist street preference, but I don’t know very many people who are hardcore enough to pick streets over skywalks (or cars) when it’s zero degrees out. The loop will still require some walking outside, though it would definitely improve things. Frigid weather sucks and it’s hard to pretend that it’s not there.

    Personally, I like walking the skywalks in unfamiliar cities to get a higher up view of their downtown. You can see a lot of downtown with less walking, and then go outside and check out the interesting areas that you noticed from the skywalks. Indy’s is decent with this, both Twin Cities also.

  8. Nate Holton says:

    By the way thanks for the map, I was looking for one a few months ago. The Milwaukee downtown website should have one.

  9. Matthew says:

    I think downtown Chicago has done a nice job addressing the cold weather without a lot of sky walks. In the downtown it seems like you can cut through every building on the ground floor so that when you are walking downtown in the winter you only have to be outside for 20-30 seconds at a time. I think if more buildings in Milwaukee were designed that way we wouldn’t need as many sky walks, and we could still keep active sidewalks during the summer.

  10. Sam Dodge says:

    The Convention Center Maze in Indianapolis is amazing. Confusing, yes, but amazing. Every times I visit I find out that it connects to something else I wasn’t expecting. Granted, they were able to design a lot of that in early so it makes sense. I can’t fathom the issues involved if Milwaukee tried to retrofit parts of the downtown area to be the same. Would really need some strong convincing to get the financial backing, I think.

  11. Michael Conrad says:

    I will never understand the minds of people that try to control behavior, either through law or just browbeating. Skywalks are great. Sidewalks are great. I use both.

    I like highways and I like trains. I use both.

    I thought “urban” meant lots diverse people with lots of diverse ideas. There are sidewalks on both sides of the street, you know.

    Anyway, I like the idea of the map, although I wish the picture were current. The lakefront is much different now and so is the Menominee Valley. And those blue pinpoints get in the way a bit.

    I wish the system had been extended further as originally planned. It would have been fun to go all the way from Wells Fargo to the lakefront.

  12. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Michael
    I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at. Skywalks are built largely with subsidies and are only for a single mode of transportation. Plus they start and stop everywhere. As far as control of movement, they’re probably the best at it.

    If you’re insinuating that urbanism is about movement control, I disagree wholeheartedly. Urbanism is about the complete street and connected grid. Driving, walking, cycling, and transit all interacting on the same road, which is part of an interconnected grid.

    Skywalks have good uses, but as long as the public is paying for all of the skywalk connections I would prefer to see the money spent on the complete street instead.

  13. Ed says:

    I only recently went to Milwaukee for an extended stay downtown and I will admit I had no idea they even had Skyways (Skywalks….sorry….I live in downtown Minneapolis). This lead me to discover that Minneapolis and St. Paul have a phenomenal system in comparison….I always took them for granted.

    I will admit that without having a continuous system to walk through, it’s not a “system.” It’s simply a series of indoor escape routes with no bigger picture rhyme or reason. Minneapolis downtown has had to evolve to embrace skyways and as a result the street level retail became very condensed to corridors like Nicollet Mall, Hennepin and First Avenue. If Milwaukee could somehow expand their sky”walk” system to encompass buildings in areas that aren’t already densely populated with retail, while connecting the gaps in the system somehow, they would have something to rival Minneapolis hands down.

  14. Downtown Deonne says:

    There are a few discrepancies in soem of these comments. The Skywalk system going East to West begins in the Accociated Bank building’s parking structure on the 3rd floor. It crossesWater street thorugh the 100 East building, crosses the river into the building that houses teh Riverside Theatre. From that building you can take the skywalk to the left across Wisconsin avenue into the ASQ building. There is then a skywalk to the left crossing back over the river into Chase Bank or right into Grand Avenue Mall. One can then walk through the mall all the way to Boston Store. You will be on the 2nd floor of the store. Coninuing into Boston Store veering to the right (North) you will cross Wisconsin Ave into THE BLUE (Reuss Federal Plaza). Continuing North tehe skywalk will take you to The Commerce Building, Hyatt Regency Hotel and Frontier Airlines Center. So, bottom line, you can get from East Town to Westown without ever going outdoors in inclement weather.

  15. Ryan Johnson says:

    You’ve left out the Aurora hospital and the Courthouse skywalks?

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