Op Ed

Help Light the Hoan Bridge

To make Milwaukee a better — and more beautiful — place.

By - Jul 5th, 2018 10:55 am
Hoan Bridge. Photo by Wantonlife (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Hoan Bridge. Photo by Wantonlife (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Milwaukee, like most cities, loves a good legacy. Names like Kilbourn, Juneau, Mitchell and Cudahy can be found all over town, as are those of modern-day philanthropists that generously contribute to our city.

In many cases, these legacies signaled the end of one’s career, or celebrate a life well-lived.

But with a new generation of leadership in Milwaukee, comes a new sense of optimism about our city and a new attitude about the idea of legacy. Many of us aren’t yet to the point in our careers where we’ll have a building, street or landmark named after us, but we’re looking to make a difference today. We’re looking to change a historic narrative of negativity about our city, one small act, one day at a time.

The next generation of citizens in this community want a way to make a change and leave their mark now, regardless of their professional status or the size of their bank accounts. The Light the Hoan effort creates this opportunity one bulb at a time. Each bulb represents one act of kindness, goodwill or upstanding citizen in Milwaukee. And collectively, they will brighten our skyline and energize our community and represent the positive things happening each and every day.

Because people from all neighborhoods and all walks of life should be big sources of civic pride for Milwaukee and have the opportunity to leave a legacy.

Each donation of $25 to $50 or more at lightthehoan.com comes with the opportunity to dedicate a bulb to someone who makes Milwaukee a better place. Our hope is that for thousands who participate, the Hoan Bridge will become this symbol of positivity and civic pride. The awe-inspiring sight of tens of thousands of bulbs lighting the Hoan will stand as a reminder that Milwaukee is held together by those individuals and families who work hard and love generously for the good of their neighbors.

These lights will fill the void of darkness when we pan the night skyline, and be enjoyed by residents, commuters, boaters and tourists within several miles of downtown. As other cities have experienced, restaurants and outdoor venues with a view of the lights will benefit via increased business. And to make them quintessentially Milwaukee, the lights can be programmed to “dance” to Summerfest, colored to reflect a playoff run for the Brewers or the Bucks, or reflect many other adaptations of our hometown pride.

Our future is bright because of the people who make this community great, and we are convinced it has never been more important to illuminate these stories for the good of our city.

The experience of pointing to the lighted bridge and showing someone your bulb is a lasting legacy accessible to each one of us.

Imagine this collection of people and stories symbolically illuminating our downtown. In addition to increasing the beauty and value of our city, we’ll be making a statement of hope and unity that can be a catalyst for positive change for generations to come.

This is a chance for us all to leave a legacy and look with pride at a landmark we collectively illuminated for all to see.

Let’s make our mark and show our pride in our city. Let’s light up the Hoan as a symbol of our pride and our optimism for the future of Milwaukee.

Lori Richards, President, Mueller Communications and  Member of the Light the Hoan Committee

The Light the Hoan effort is organized and run by a volunteer committee of the Daniel Hoan Foundation. We are people with immense pride for our city, working to make a big idea a reality, with the help of and hope that we can engage thousands of other regular people who love Milwaukee just as much as we do.

Categories: Op-Ed, Transportation

10 thoughts on “Op Ed: Help Light the Hoan Bridge”

  1. MidnightSon says:

    I love Milwaukee and am super excited about so much that is happening in my hometown.

    That said, this is a fundraising campaign in search of a project. There are no specifics: no project description, no renderings, etc. No deadline. Only a dream and a lot of words about legacy, change, and bulbs representing acts of kindness. Good grief. You have fundraising and project goals without having “finalized your global search for design proposals.” (Per your FAQ.). How can that be?

    Like the old adage goes, “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” However, that said, I would add that you still need to have the steak. Lots of words about

    You should start with a solid project spec-ed out, and then seek your big gifts, first: corporations, others, etc. The statement that if the project does not proceed donors agree to allow the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to use it for other lighting/place making projects is hardly confidence inducing.

  2. michael says:

    While the Hoan bridge itself is relatively innocuous between the ferry landing and 3rd ward, I-794 between the lakefront and the Marquette interchange is the most economically damaging stretch of urban highway in the state. That section actually manages to INCREASE travel times for anyone driving into downtown versus a surface boulevard, while it’s spaghetti bowl of ramps and elevated deck destroys property values of everything within several blocks of it. It sits directly on top of the most valuable land in the state. The only positive transportation value of the elevated portion through downtown is to the trickle of through traffic from Saint Francis to Miller Park & west; everyone else is equally or better served by taking 43. Saving that handful of thru-commuters a couple minutes is certainly not worth destroying a broad swath of our downtown. Between the lakefront & Marquette interchange that highway simply must be removed.

  3. A Prire says:

    There is much here to consider, however, I am very positive about this in concept. There are pros and cons, each with merit. Given that, I am very anxious to hear more about the details. An exciting possibility that deserves our consideration, and backing. I cant believe we have not considered this with great applause earlier. Milwaukee is on the verge of epic public awareness, and we need to prepare with enthusiasm. Our great local business leaders, local talent and strong public appreciation will make this an icon that will endure.

  4. TransitRider says:

    My father once told me a story of how the Hoan came to be. The City had wanted a (non-freeway) harbor bridge for years, but had no money to pay for it. When the Interstates were being laid out, they decided to build a connecting freeway so the Feds would pay 90% of the bridge’s cost—even though the Hoan (and I-794) really aren’t part of any interstate route or route with enough traffic to justify an urban freeway.

    A few years ago, when I-794 was being rebuilt and half of it was temporarily removed, I got a taste of how open the area would be if it were totally removed—how downtown would just flow into the Third Ward without an ugly overhead highway separating the two.

    Many Milwaukeeans feel that the streetcar’s overhead wire—a single strand just a fraction of an inch thick which casts no shadow and makes no sound—is an eyesore, but turn a blind eye toward a noisy overhead freeway that casts a shadow hundreds of feet wide.

  5. Charles Q. Sullivan says:

    As much as I appreciate the sentiment behind this idea (not yet really a proposal), I side with those who would prefer less, rather than more, illumination. The money required to develop, initiate, and maintain this idea might better be put into maintenance of our parks — for the benefit of all the residents and as an attraction for visitors from around the world.

    Beyond the needs for safety, security, and visibility, excessive artificial lighting unnecessarily interferes with an already declining asset: the visibility of the stars in the night sky, and the reflection of that sky on the lake.


  6. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Good idea, it pays to advertise. Light up and rebuild the Domes, a Milwaukee landmark. They are beautifil need better promo.

  7. Light the bridge how?

    Like the PAC?????????????

    Maybe not.

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @Tom I don’t think the plan is like the PAC lighting, though as the PAC has been part of my view for years I love it. I believe it’ll be more like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOXlkajGuLY (not exactly due to bridge structure but more in this line).

  9. John says:

    I left Milwaukee in 1984. Do they still call this the bridge to nowhere?

  10. Fan of Facts says:

    Went to lightthehoan.com.

    Nice graphics and it makes donating enticing and easy. But little in the way of facts. Says donations are tax deductible but makes no mention of the Daniel Hoan Foundation, committee members, etc.

    What are the actual projected costs and parameters of this project? Is this promotional effort merely more ambitious than having a better city flag to promote civic pride? All nice and fun, but is that all there is?

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