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.