Friday, May 9, 2008

A Final Wrap-Up

I thought I would post one more entry, of just photos that I captured in Washington Park as a wrap-up of researxch we've done. I believe that these images stand along and need no further explanation. As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Artist’s Statement

Washington Park, its History, and the Community

Personally, I love history. So when I got the opportunity to research one of Milwaukee’s most historic landmarks I was eager to dig in. The concentration of my individual project was the history of Washington Park, as well as how residents have related to the space in the past and present.

My prior knowledge of the park was very limited. The first thing I had to do was acquaint myself with the space by visiting a few times just to get a feel for the neighborhood. After one or two visits my partners and myself started approaching residents to ask some questions. Questions that we asked ranged from; How often do you use the park?, to What kinds of events are held on the park?, and most often What is the one word you would use to describe Washington Park? More often than not, the answer to the latter was “underutilized.”

Over the course of about a month I shot over 200 photos, and the amount of video collected by our group comes in at just over 40 minutes. While all of this material is nice to have, it just isn’t practical to display all of it. Therefore, most of my photos will not appear on my blog. Over the last couple of weeks I have visited the archive at the UWM Library. It was there that I discovered a wealth of print material that highlighted exactly what I wanted to present. This is where the postcard images originated, as well as the excerpts from old news clippings.

Another source that I used in this process was the Milwaukee Department of City Development’s document on Washington Park. The document provides a wealth of information related to the demographics of the area, as well as accessibility. There are many maps that show where people live, where resources are located, as well as the traffic patterns in the neighborhood.

The one major problem we have encountered in this process was access to iMovie. That was resolved quickly, as I had just purchased a new MacBook that included the software. With that out of the way it was a matter of learning how to use the new version of the program. It is unlike any previous iMovie any of us have ever used. There is no time line on the editing screen to drag and drop material. Instead, it is all in a format that has been very confusing to learn. Even though it has been difficult to edit our video we do believe that the program has allowed us to create a quality product that we are proud of.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Greg Miller Interview

This video is of the entire interview that was conducted with Greg Miller of LAND and the Washington Park Partners Initiative.

Here is our group's final video. In relation to my individual research, it highlights the history of the park, zoo, and neighborhood, and how they have all changed over time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Project Documentation

For this project I contributed the following work...

I provided the computer on which we edited the film. I also edited the entirety of the interview video. The compiling of the bibliography was done be me as well. I obtained the research facts from the archives that include the postcard quotations, as well as the newspaper excerpts and park planning document. A handful of the photos that appear in the final video were taken by me. I also assisted in the interview of Greg Miller.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What the Park Meant to Milwaukee

The following quotes are excerpts from the backs of postcards that can be found in the UWM Archives. They give a taste of what the park provided the community in the past.

"Milwaukee's pride, Washington Park, an immense playground, 150 acres of rolling lawns, shady walks and beautiful drives. Contains a large artificial lake of 13 acres for boating, canoeing, and skating. Also, the zoological gardens where about 900 specimens donated by the Washington Park Zoological Society are on display for enjoyment of visitors."

"There are about one hundred boxes of water lily plants distributed among the four ponds in Washington Park. Each box contains five or six plants whose beautiful blossoms are admired by thousands each season."

"Prominent as a gathering place for music lovers is the Blatz Temple, a modern music shell where outstanding artists perform every year in a full summer schedule of concerts, operas, and cultural programs."

"5,000 tons of Lannon Stone were used for building this miniature mountain, 236 feet long, 118 feet wide, height 27 feet; a stairway leading to the upper part of the hill for distribution of food. Narrow paths are provided, intercepted with crevices and jutting crags. Water falls in a cascade down the south side of the hill into a small lagoon."

"The only Monkey Island in the world, 165x87 ft., a large oval mound with a continuing running rivulet, grottos, sand beach and cave for this protection of the monkeys in bad weather. Surrounded by a moat of water 30 feet wide."

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Case For A New Zoo

Ever since the opening of the Milwaukee Zoo, space has been an issue. Even one year after it's 1905 opening there was a call for greater facilities. 1906 showed attendance figures of 100,000.
As annual totals topped the 1,000,000 mark there was already a plan in the works to drastically renovate the zoo, or move it all together.

In 1938, the Zoological Society took a stand against the relocation of the zoo. The argued that the zoo was "poor man's entertainment."(The Case for a New and Enlarged Zoo,1948) Alfred Boerner, the landscape architect for the Milwaukee County Parks System created a master plan that presented two options, rearrangement or relocation. His cost estimate was $1,750,000 to rework the existing zoo. Another study showed that a new zoo off of Bluemound Rd. would cost upwards of $2,000,000 and allow for future expansion. If the zoo was to remain in the park it would require an additional 100 acres, or the majority of the space as it is today. An evaluation of the infrastructure showed that, if the zoo stayed, the bandshell, ball diamonds, and picnic grounds would be compromised.

Inevitably the park did move to a new home. What resulted was the loss of a valuable asset to the city of Milwaukee and the Washington Park neighborhood. One reader of the Journal Sentinel voiced his opinion on the matter.

"I say that the zoo should remain where it is now, unless the park commission doesn't want children to visit it....Furthermore. Why place it within a stones throw of Waukesha? The people of Waukesha County will have the benefit of it while the residents of the city of Milwaukee won't be able to go there."
-A.H. Koenig
Journal Sentinel, 1948

Clearly, this was an important issue to the residents of Milwaukee. History shows us exactly what resulted from the move, and it wasn't positive.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Washington Park Partners and the Comprehensive Plan

The research efforts of the Washington Park Partners have resulted in the formation of the Washington Park Comprehensive Plan. Based on a quality of life plan called "Planning For Hope", the document addresses the strengths an weaknesses of planning area. The plan is broken down into sections that highlight characteristics of the area, land use, and demographics. One chapter focuses on catalytic projects that could be used to spark change.

The following is an excerpt from the document that outlines what the general purpose of the Washington Park Comprehensive Plan entails.

Plan Purpose
"The purpose of the Washington Park Comprehensive Plan is to create a place where people can live, work and play in a safe, inviting community. The plan establishes priorities for strengthening and building upon the neighborhood assets. The plan promotes investment and provides guidance for pubic and private development. By creating new business opportunities, enhancing existing recreation and cultural alternatives, creating pedestrian-friendly areas, and creating a lifestyle option that can result in minimizing the development of outlying areas, the improvement to the area will provide benefits for the neighborhood, city and region."

While the bulk of the material I have gathered is related to the park itself I believe it is important to look at the surrounding area that the park serves. This document contains just about every statistic imaginable. It is filled with land use maps, traffic flow diagrams, etc.
If there is to be change in Washington Park, it is best to know some background information.

The Washington Park Comprehensive Plan:

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Washington Park Zoo

There is a very rich history to Washington Park. It is hard to imagine that there was once a world class zoo in this sprawling park. From 1905 until it's relocation in the 1950's the Milwaukee Zoo was the place to be for the residents of the neighborhood.

A Milwaukee Journal article published in December of 1920 states that at the time, the Milwaukee Zoo was the fifth largest in the nation. A Milwaukee Leader article from earlier the same year claims that zoo's annual attendance had recently topped 600,000.

National recognition was becoming more obvious all the time. In an article written by the Milwaukee Zoo's director Edward H. Bean is it clear that the zoo had risen to be one of the top in the nation. Bean goes on to mention that the director of the New York Garden remarked that they had never seen a zoo acquire merit so quickly.

In 1926 the zoo received what may have been one of its highest compliments, a glowing endorsement from Dr. H.M. Wegeforth, the director of the San Diego Zoological Society. He was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal saying, " I have made many visits to the zoo at Washington Park as well as to others in other cities, but there is none which makes a better appearance and which has better specimens than the zoo at Milwaukee".

Postcard images are property of the UWM Archives.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Then and Now

The above images are a series of historical postcards compared with present day shots of the same locations. My research involving this park aims to discover how it is utilized today, compared to how it was used in the past.

Visits to the park have provided some valuable information that leads me to draw a few early conclusions. First and foremost, Washington Park is not being utilized to it's full potential. There are very few residents who walk the paths and partake in activities such as fishing. Even the basketball court was fairly empty.

However, I do have to say that, because of the nature of season there may not be as many people out and about as there would be in more favorable weather.

More entries will follow upon further analysis and interviews.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Washington Park Neighborhood

Artist’s Statement:
The Washington Park Neighborhood

One of my primary goals when visiting the LAND service area was to take some photos of Washington Park. I wanted to explore what made this place so special the community. Even though there was snow on the ground and the park was desolate I could imagine what the acres of land must look like the rest of the year.

The photographs chosen for this photo essay were picked with the past in mind. The Washington Park Library house a great collection of historical photos pertaining to the neighborhood. These images provide a great window to the past, but are also a great resource for the present, and future. The community should be proud of the neighborhood they live in, but always embrace the present and look to the future. Out of those I chose to include a scene depicting a concert at the Blatz Bandshell. The image suggests that the park is a place to congregate, a place that enriches the lives of the community members.

Neighborhood identity is something that also stood out to me. There was a bulletin board in the LAND office that displayed the designs for the Washington Park and Walnut Hill neighborhood signs. Each give an example of what is valued in the respective community. For Washington Park it is the Bandshell, and for Walnut Hill it is the charm and character of the houses. Another form of identity that I noticed while walking the neighborhood was the artwork. Some buildings have murals painted on their sides, there was a painted stored in the HomeSource tool room, and there was an installation at the entrance to the Washington Park Library.

When shooting the images I tried to make them as simple and to straight forward as possible. When using a camera I like to explore smaller parts of the whole. I felt that there were certain things that could be interpreted and explored with very little information. For example, the photos of the art installation as well as the Blatz Bandshell provide very few clues to the larger picture. On the other hand, I shot other images that do the exact opposite, such as the
Washington Park sign and the Urban Ecology Center.

Once I saw the images in the library I started to formulate a more concrete idea of where I wanted to go with this project, and more importantly my final project. Balancing the past, present, and future intrigues me. I feel that there is much to be uncovered by exploring this neighborhood.

The Emil Blatz Temple of Music as it stands today.

The Urban Ecology Center is located at the center of Washington Park. The center provides outreach to the community through programs that are focused on local environmental issues. Students are able to get involved through the MPS science cirriculum as well as
The Washington Park Library opened its doors to the community in 2003. Within the biulding are many spaces that can be utilized by the community, such as meeting rooms and computer stations.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wahington Park

Caspar's Pocket Map of Milwaukee
UWM AGSL Digital Map Collection

Detail of Caspar's Map

Washington Park(West Park)
UWM Digital Collections

On the western edge of the Lisbon Avenue Neighborhood lies Washington Park. It is just one of many parks in the "string of pearls" created by Frederick Law Olmsted in his master plan for the Milwaukee County Parks System. The first photo gives a general perspective of how this "necklace" looked in terms of Milwaukee's neighborhood's and streets.
The second photo shows a closeup of the neighborhood that this blog is concerned with. The western edge of the park shrunk in 1960 when Highway 41 carved a path through the area. By 1967 the park was expanded to the northeast, making up for the land that was lost in the construction of the project. The expansion actually increased the acreage of the property to grow to 134.8 acres, larger than it's original size. The last photo of the set illustrates one of the functions of the lagoons. Around the turn of the 20th century the park was popular for it's zoo as well as the lagoon. Today the park is used for many community events, including festival and picnics, some hosted by the Lisbon Avenue Neighborhood Development.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Test Entry

This blog has been created for the purposes of Film 150:Multicultural America.