Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

10 Images of a Changing City

Think Milwaukee moves slowly? These dramatic interactive images will change your mind.

By - Apr 8th, 2016 12:23 pm

Milwaukee’s built environment is changing — and rapidly.

While it may feel like it takes forever for some projects to go from concept to reality, in fact the city’s urban core has been transformed in the past decade. And the pace of change is only increasing.

That can be hard to grasp given the slow-and-steady pace of individual construction projects. Milwaukeeans won’t wake up one morning to find the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons project standing 32 floors, instead they’ll see the tower crane climb week-by-week until the building is finished. And when that happens, the former East Building will already have become a distant memory.

To truly appreciate the significant impact the building boom is having on Milwaukee’s built environment it’s best to look at compare-and-contrast, before-and-after images. Google’s Street View service makes such a comparison much easier than plying through the archives of our Friday Photos series. The camera-equipped vehicles trolling the world capture curbside snapshots of virtually every city street. In Milwaukee those images date back to 2007 and have been updated a number of times. Apartment-finding service RENTCafé used that imagery to compile some of the biggest changes in the local landscape.

1. Aloft Hotel and The Moderne

Looking west from the Juneau Avenue Bridge in this 2007 to 2014 comparison, you can see two empty lots transformed into the Aloft Milwaukee hotel and The Moderne apartment and condominium tower. Also visible to the keen observer is the loss of the Sydney HIH building, and in the distance the transformation of The Brewery including its new Brewery Parking Structure.

2. Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

Perhaps the most stark contrast in the series, use the slider to watch the Menomonee Valley and Potawatomi Bingo Casino transform with the addition of the Potawatomi Hotel. See the view from the hotel as part of our Vantage Point series.

3. The BreakWater on Burns Commons

As the stock market collapsed, The BreakWater Condominiums kept rising on the north edge of Downtown. Look at how the 20-story building changed the perspective from Burns Commons. Love this view? See our Listing of the Week feature on a unit with a great view of the scene.

4. 833 East

The newest building in the series, 833 East, is an 18-story office tower along E. Michigan St. near the lakefront.  The tower opened last month. Want more? Take a tour of the new tower with Urban Milwaukee just before the tower opened. This image will be soon obsolete as the Downtown Transit Center in the foreground is slated to come down in August, with The Couture rising in its place.

5. Grohmann Tower

Under-construction already in 2007, the project at the time was to be a hotel-condominium tower. A casualty of the Great Recession, Grohmann Tower, as its now known, is a Milwaukee School of Engineering residence hall named after donor Eckhart Grohmann. It held the sarcastic title for years of “world’s largest Qdoba.”

6. Marquette Campus Transformation

Marquette University has developed a number of projects in the past ten years that have reshaped W. Wisconsin Ave., but W. Wells St. has seen plenty of action as well. The university built the Dr. E. J. O’Brien Jesuit Residence and a private developer completed IVY on Fourteenth, an apartment building targeted at students. See our 2014 hard hat tour of the apartment building for more.

7. Two50Two

Marquette and MSOE aren’t the only schools redeveloping their neighborhoods; the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design developed Two50Two in partnership with General Capital Group at the south end of the Historic Third Ward. The building houses more than 700 students, a coffee shop and art store. Learn more about the project and see inside with our coverage of the 2014 ribbon cutting.

8. 1910 on Water

N. Water St. is going to merit its own article in just a year, with a number of projects planned or under construction for the formerly forlorn stretch north of E. Cherry St. At the northern edge of the corridor is 1910 on Water, a 68-unit apartment building built into the bluff by Wangard Partners.

9. Park Lafayette Towers

The matching 20-story towers rising at the intersection of N. Prospect Ave. and E. Lafayette Pl. are perhaps Milwaukee’s best example of the exuberance that encapsulated the early 2000’s condominium boom. Developed by a Chicago-developer as 280 condominiums, Park Lafayette Towers went through foreclosure and is now managed as an apartment building by the Mandel GroupGo inside the towers with our 2014 article.

10. St. John’s on the Lake

Just south of Park Lafayette on N. Prospect Ave. rises the 21-story St. John’s on the Lake expansion. The tower was added to the existing retirement community complex located just to the north in 2011. See inside the complex with our 2014 article, but if you want to live there you’ll have to start saving: it’s not cheap.

11 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: 10 Images of a Changing City”

  1. Justin Bielinski says:

    Thanks for this! pretty cool. Wish more of this was on the south side.

  2. Ryan N says:

    Would have loved to see this in the park east/water st area east of the river. Wasteland to urban canyon! Can’t wait for it all to be fully completed!

  3. J Willow says:


  4. Joel says:

    Thanks! love these sliders! They are better than White Castle Sliders.

  5. WaukAnon says:

    I’m surprised the Manpower building that went up around the 2007 timeframe wasn’t included, but it does highlight a lot of change that’s occured in a relatively short time period.

  6. Tyrell Track Master says:

    Slam! nice work on these!

  7. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Changing? Elected the same worthless leaders, in Milwaukee, that are destroying it from within: Abele and Barrett.
    Neighborhoods falling apart, while white, male, liberal, racists that run the city, watch it fall apart, in the neighborhoods, while the downtown grows, just like Detroit:
    Crime up tons, car jacking have doubled in the last year or so. 7000 stole cars, I will not let my wife drive her convertible east of 92nd st.
    Then we have the heroin/fentanyl epidemic, human trafficking, corruption, one of the worst managed cities in country, top ten for worst crime, 57% youth unemployment, worst roads, worst poverty, incredibly stupid Milwaukee county govt. high taxes, dominated by corrupt unions. Yes, it is changing. Do not drive down North Ave, Burleigh, Capitol without watching to make sure you are not car jacked. Finally John Norquist was decent Mayor, realized that no city is a leader with out good schools, and ours are “National Disgrace”. Solution?? Trolley and Bucks? Idiocy!!
    The clowns that weigh in on this site refuse to even admit it or produce some answers or changes.

  8. Ryan N says:

    I always get a chuckle out of WCG. City has rejected you by a landslide, you can stay west of 92nd St. and howl into the abyss because we’ll all ignore you like normal.

  9. Vincent Hanna says:

    I wonder what WCD is like at a birthday party or other types of celebratory events considering what a ray of sunshine he always is here. “How old are you? 37? Wow. Your life is half over.” Is someone this miserable online just as miserable all the time? What a pathetic way to live your life. Try smiling once in a while WCD. You don’t have much time left, so you should try and enjoy at least a little of it.

  10. Sean says:

    WCD is a typical suburbanite that won’t go to the city based on what they read/ hear in the news. This is comical literature, from a completely uniformed person. Have you been to Detroit or Gary, Indiana? The people in those city’s would be insulted by your comparison. Milwaukee isn’t even as close to as bad as those city’s. Get out of your arm chair and come to the city, take North Avenue!

  11. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Too bad boy but for the last 30 years I have worked in pharmacies all over the city and seen it go down hill.. After Norquist it has been one long slide, Arne Duncan hit it right on the nail.
    On this site nothing but a bunch of apologists fro the obvious truth and never get anything done. jus think how many poor Black and Hispanic lives you have wasted. Sad leaders.

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