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: