Skip to main content

Milwaukee's Historic 3rd Ward


Milwaukee is an old industrial city. And one of the centers of that industry was The Historic 3rd Ward of the city, just south of downtown. For many years, this area was run down and in disrepair. Today it is one of the places in Milwaukee where the development of high end housing, shops and restaurants have changed the life of neighborhood.

The 3rd Ward was first developed in the early 1830’s. It was mostly a community of Irish immigrants. The businesses were mainly warehouses and factories, due to its proximity to the mouth of the Milwaukee River and the railroad that came in in the 1850’s, connecting Milwaukee to the Mississippi River. In 1892 the ward was deeply damaged by a huge fire that destroyed over 440 building and left over 1000 families homeless. As the 3rd Ward was being rebuilt over the next 30 years, they developed a community of buildings that were all very similar in style and today present a unified look throughout the ward.

Milwaukee River Downtown – Third Ward from the UW-Milwaukee Collection

Today the 3rd Ward is home to over 500 businesses. It has become the center of Milwaukee’s arts and fashion community with boutiques and galleries. It has become the center of one of Milwaukee’s largest art events – the monthly Gallery Night, where over 50 art galleries open their doors well in to the evening. 

I spent a Saturday morning walking around the 3rd Ward. It is a beautiful mix of old and new. When you walk along the Milwaukee River you can see the old industrial buildings sitting next to new and rebuilt ones. As you walk along the river you get to newer buildings, mostly apartments that have replaced many of the old warehouses in the 3rd ward. If you follow the river you will arrive at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park, which is home to Milwaukee’s many summer festivals.

IMG_0190IMG_0195IMG_0198IMG_0218N. Broadway

IMG_0219Shops on N. Broadway


The two primary thoroughfares in the 3rd Ward are N. Water Street and N. Broadway. They run parallel to each other connecting the north to the south ends of the Ward. They are the main shopping and dining streets and get very crowded on a nice summer day.

IMG_0237Goll & Frank .... and the building crackedIMG_0238River View point along Water Street

IMG_0239IMG_0241IMG_0246The Milwaukee River is still a working river

My Favorite place in the 3rd Ward is the Milwaukee Public Market. Opened in 2005, this is the place to come for really good, fresh food at reasonable prices. Choices include salads and sandwiches, seafood, sausages (Here is a complete list of vendors). You can take your food home, or walk upstairs and enjoy your lunch right there.



Images (14)
  • IMG_0190
  • IMG_0195
  • IMG_0198
  • IMG_0218
  • IMG_0219
  • IMG_0225
  • IMG_0237
  • IMG_0238
  • IMG_0239
  • IMG_0241
  • IMG_0246
  • IMG_0234
  • IMG_0012
  • IMG_0015

Add Comment

Comments (0)

Link copied to your clipboard.