Milwaukee To Become Little Madrid?
Milwaukee has an unquestionably rich ethnic history that has been at the center of the cities identity ever since Juneau, Walker, and Kilbourn decided to merge their towns together in 1846. There is a festival and slice of history for everyone in Milwaukee. In the past ten years something has changed in Milwaukee. Spain has emerged to have a number of ties to the city.
The first, and most iconic connection to Spain, is the Quadracci Pavilion expansion at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The building is affectionately known as “the Calatrava” after it’s designer, starchitect Santiago Calatrava. The Milwaukee Art Museum made a statement by selecting an architect not only from out of the state, but out of the country. The finished product was a beautiful building that has certainly become a showpiece for Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
Another connection came this summer after Governor Jim Doyle committed $47 million to purchase train cars from Madrid-based Talgo, a leader in the field of high-speed train set design. The train sets will be used on the Amtrak Hiawatha line from Chicago to Milwaukee (and one could guess will likely be used once the line is extended to Madison). The train sets weren’t the only thing received in the deal, as Talgo will locate a facility in the state for assembly and maintenance. We’ve opined on where we believe the facility should go, and we’ll see if Talgo agrees with an announcement expected soon.
The bold move by the state to agree to purchase the Talgo equipment in August certainly helped increase the odds that the Milwaukee to Madison line was selected for a $823-million high-speed rail development grant from the federal government. That move awards the state money to develop the line, including the purchase of train sets that will be made right here in Wisconsin by Talgo. It will be a great coup for Milwaukee if other high-speed rail corridors select Talgo for their train sets and those train sets can be assembled here, creating jobs and making Wisconsin a significant player in the high-speed rail arena.
It’s important to note that none of the ties to Spain have weakened Milwaukee’s identify with other ethnic groups. Old World Third Street still has businesses that consider German history core to their identify, and patrons that will drink to that. Irish Fest, Polish Fest, and the Juneteenth Day Festival will still go off without a hitch. The Bucks will still regularly start five players from four different continents. Rest assured, Milwaukee’s title as “City of Festivals” is safe.
While it’s not like Milwaukee is seeing a wave of immigrants from Spain, it’s safe to think that Milwaukee is more well-regarded in Spain than the average American city. One has to assume Milwaukee is in a much better position going forward to attract increased Spanish investment, be it companies opening facilities or tourists.
So what’s next? What Spanish water company can Milwaukee lure to the Reed Street Yards?
This article was inspired by El Mariachi on SkyscraperCity