Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Crime rate significantly down in the Park Neighborhoods

The crime rate is significantly down in the Park Neighborhoods in 2013 and 2014. The WBIR crimes (including assaults, arson, burglary, homicide, sexual offenses, criminal damage, locked vehicle, car theft and other theft) are 18 percent lower than those in the city overall (108 crimes per 1000 population compared to 131 crimes per 1000 population in Milwaukee overall).
The Park Neighborhoods (or Milwaukee’s Historic South Side on the City planning map) include Lincoln Village, Baran Park, Forest Home Hills, the northwestern tip of Bay View, and the northeastern tip of Polonia. 

2015 sees a shortage of homes for sale in the Park Neighborhoods

Three years ago, there would have been over 40 single-family homes available in the Park Neighborhoods. In October 2014 there were only 12. There were about the same number of multiple-family homes. Three years ago single-family homes were priced between $10,000 and $84,000. Today they are going from $45,000 to $120,000.

What happened?

The economy changed, of course. The home buying crisis is nearly over.
     In addition, many efforts went forward to improve the image of the Park Neighborhoods to prospective homebuyers. Urban Anthropology Inc. (UrbAn) was one organization that worked to change this image. Whenever a home was for sale, UrbAn would drop off binders of information to home sellers that promoted the neighborhood—information such as the local assets, services, recreation facilities, businesses, parks, and more.  In addition, UrbAn worked with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the NIDC to secure grants on neighborhood improvement features. From these grants came public art, over 100 large planters filled with plants and flowers, 35 homes rehabbed, a neighborhood museum, plays and events on neighborhood cultural history, 78 home flower boxes, 14 homes landscaped, gateway sign, new trees for Kosciuszko Park, walking tour of the neighborhood, and more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Park beautification efforts by UrbAn and allies were unveiled on June 5th

On June 5th neighborhood residents joined us for the unveiling of a series of public art/neighborhood beautification projects that we call “Beautiful Blocks IV”. The components of this project are: 

• The youth art pillar (YAP) program utilized the talent of students at three local schools to create a second art pillar. Youth from Inland Seas School, St. Joshapat and U.S. Grant Schools designed tiles that represent important symbols and events of the Puerto Rican, German and African American populations that have settled in The Park Neighborhoods.

• A “Native Couple” park bench created by local artist Juan Flores that utilized funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board.

• The “Family Tree” program will add 13 trees to a highly visible area of Kosciuszko Park. This was made possible through a grant from the Southeast Wisconsin Watershed Trust, Inc. (Sweetwater). This program is a way of educating the public by linking ancestry to the environment. Trees donated by Park Neighborhoods residents will carry a small medallion dedicated to the favorite ancestor of the donor.

• Victorian gardens. UrbAn worked with a neighborhood horticulturalist to plan the grand Victorian gardens. These two semi circular gardens are on either side of the famous Kosciuszko Monument in a prominent area of Kosciuszko Park. These gardens once existed in Victorian times and will be similar to the originals, using shrubs and perennials.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Honoring our ancestors while adding beauty and health to our parks

Through the help of grants from Sweet Water and the Wisconsin Arts Board, Urban Anthropology Inc.  added 30 trees to Kosciuszko Park over the last three years.  Grants from Sweet Water (Southeast Wisconsin Watershead Trust) allowed UrbAn to replace trees that have been taken down due to disease.  A grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board enabled UrbAn to add a hand-carved bench honoring the Native heritage in the Park Neighborhoods.  If you are interested in contributing a tree to any of our Park Neighborhoods’ parks, contact Rick Petrie at (414) 271-9417 or email at:
Over the years the trees will also be contributed to the other parks in Lincoln Village and Baran Park.  

A brief introduction to Lincoln Village

 Lincoln Village is a diverse neighborhood on Milwaukee's near south side. The neighborhood - officially bound by Becher Street to the north, Cleveland Avenue to the south, 5th Place to the east, and 16th street to the west - was first settled by Polish immigrants in the late 19th century.

There are many remnants of those early "Polonia" days. St. Josaphat's Basilica, funded and built by faithful Polish residents, was the second church in the entire country to become a basilica. A monument to General Thadeus Kosciuszko, a Polish hero who fought against the British in the American Revolutionary War, proudly faces Lincoln Avenue from his pedestal in Kosciuszko Park. Residents can thank the Poles for the area's solid and attractive housing stock, too. The neighborhood has always been one of the most densely populated in the city, and the old Polish flats - two story frame houses raised half a story to create a ground-level dwelling space for more tenants - speak to the immigrant history of the area. Lincoln Villagers have always been hard workers, and long-time residents pride their community on its blue collar roots.

Lincoln Village today is a much more diverse community. In 1910, the neighborhood was virtually 100% Polish Catholic. In 2010, the neighborhood - as surveyed thus far - includes representatives from over 108 nations, including the many Indian nations of Wisconsin and other states. While many Polish families have remained here through the generations, Mexican Americans make up over half of the population. The six largest ethnic groups in the neighborhood today are Mexican, Polish, Puerto Rican, African American, German, and native, with Lincoln Village having perhaps the largest concentration of urban Indians in the city of Milwaukee. Other residents hail from South and Southeastern Asia, North and East Africa, Eastern Europe (particularly the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia), and of course, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The experience of several Lincoln Village cultural groups are documented in the rooms of the Old South Side Settlement Museum at 707 W Lincoln Avenue. Mexican, Peruvian, Salvadoran, and Serbian restaurants, Mexican bakeries and supermarkets, a Mexican butcher and old-time A & J Polish Deli serve residents and visitors to Lincoln Village today.

A brief introduction to Baran Park

Baran Park is a small neighborhood nestled between Lincoln Village to the west and Bay View to the east. The neighborhood may not be as well known as these two, but it has an enviable location and much, much more.

The neighborhood is named for - surprise! - Baran Park, a Milwaukee County Park that runs north to south, parallel to 1st Street and the Kinnickinnic River corridor. The park is named after an early St. Josaphat's pastor, Felix Baran, and today it is a hot spot for local baseball league play during summer. And there is another baseball connection in Baran Park. Klement's Sausage, the Milwaukee staple and creator/sponsor of the Milwaukee Brewers Racing Sausages, is located along 1st Street on the southern end of the neighborhood.

Milwaukee Pallet, another homegrown Milwaukee company, is located among a grouping of industrial buildings and some available office lofts. And across the Kinnickinnic from these is Inland Seas High School, a Milwaukee maritime-themed charter school with after-school boat building programs. The school has a very appropriate placement; the KK River was one of Milwaukee's busiest waterways during the heyday of early industry, and today, several marinas and docking facilities are located just downstream.

In some ways, Baran Park seems like an island, but this island - located as it is between Lincoln Village and Baran Park, where Lincoln Avenue crosses over Interstate I-43 and with the Kinnickinnic River running through it - is not an isolated one by any means.

El Salvador Restaurant

There are many great ethnic restaurants along Lincoln Avenue, but the El Salvador Restaurant is located just off Lincoln, at 2316 S 6th Street. While they offer a variety of traditional home-style Mexican entrees (tacos, burritos, the obligatory tortilla-chips-and-salsa meal starter), Salvadoran fare is their specialty. So, what should your first Salvadoran meal look like? One word: PUPUSAS.

Pupusas are small corn pockets folded around a filling: beef, queso, refried beans, or a traditional vegetable mix that includes squash. El Salvador pupusas are flavorful, not spicy, and come with a side of fresh pickled cabbage and red and green ketchup-y sauces that you squeeze from big plastic bottles.

I ate my first pupusas while visiting Nicaragua in 2005, and I'm glad so I can get my pupusa fix right here in Lincoln Village. But when the pupusa craving strikes, be advised: El Salvador is only open Wednesdays-Sundays.