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.

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