The Menomonee Valley has a fascinating history: from wild rice marsh to manufacturing center to infamous eyesore, and now to a national model of economic and environmental sustainability. A brief summary of the Menomonee River Valley's history follows. For additional information, please see:
Historic Menomonee River Valley
Four miles long and a half-mile wide, the
In 1795, Jacques Vieau, a fur trader, established the first permanent trading post in
The Machine Shop of the World
By the early 1900s,
From 1879 to 1985, the Valley was the location of the Milwaukee Road Shops, an enormous complex that made rail cars and locomotives for the
By the late 1800s, thousands of workers arrived in the
By the 1960s, the
The Valley’s Decline
By the late 1900s, as manufacturing practices changed, the Valley was left a blighted area with abandoned, contaminated land and vacant industrial buildings. Bridges into the Valley were demolished as businesses left and the Valley was isolated from the surrounding city, a place to pass over, but not a place to go. The neighborhoods adjacent to the Valley most strongly felt the impacts of the Valley’s decline; residents suffered from limited access to jobs and recreation opportunities, high levels of asthma and obesity, and poor air quality.
In 1998, the City of
In the past 10 years, 33 companies have moved to or expanded in the Valley, 4,200 jobs have been created, 45 acres of native plants, seven miles of trails, and a nationally recognized shared stormwater treatment system have been established. In addition, 10 million people visit the Valley’s recreation and entertainment destinations each year. More than 250 organizations and 450 individuals have given pro bono time by serving on boards, committees, and working teams, while thousands of individuals have volunteered at Valley events.
Today, the Valley is a national model of economic and environmental sustainability. Recognized by the Sierra Club as "One of the 10 Best Developments in the Nation," the Menomonee Valley continues to receive local and national recognition.