After leaving the Miller Valley, our runners will hop on the Hank Aaron State Trail just before mile 20. Here they will find themselves passing through Three Bridges Park. Once part of an abandoned rail yard, this area has since been transformed into a 24-acre park planted with native vegetation. The Urban Ecology Center currently uses Three Bridges Park as an outdoor science classroom to give kids hands-on experiences to explore waterways, native flora and fauna, and regional history.
Three Bridges Park will lead directly into Mitchell Park, home of the Mitchell Park Conservatory (a.k.a. “The Domes.”) The original Mitchell Park Conservatory was built in 1898 but was demolished in 1955 after it was determined to be unsafe and impractical to repair. A design competition won by local architect Donald Grieb produced the plans for the new conservatory- a design that featured three beehive-shaped glass domes that allowed 15,000 square feet of growing space for plant displays. The domes feature a diverse array of plant life from three distinct climates: Desert, Tropical and Floral.
Now solidly in the second half of the race, our marathon runners will head west on Washington Boulevard into the Washington Heights neighborhood at mile 15. This neighborhood lies on the western edge of Milwaukee and calls itself “In the City, Out of the Ordinary!” The area began development back in 1839 but grew exponentially with the addition of a streetcar line and the construction of Washington Park in the late 1800s. Today Washington Boulevard is lined with 1920’s Arts and Crafts style houses, including the home of Mayor Tom Barrett.
But we’re not done yet. Next we’ll loop back eastward on State Street for a nice downhill into the Miller Valley where runners will pass right through the heart of the historic Miller Brewery. The company was founded in 1855 by Frederick Miller when he purchased Plank Road Brewery with $8000 in gold he brought with him from Germany. Our marathon runners will pass a replica of the original Frederick Miller Plank Road Brewery house at mile 17 and they can start dreaming of that post-race beer courtesy of MillerCoors!
The marathon course starts weaving it’s way north again after mile 10 and soon runners will enter the scenic Washington Park. This 128-acre park opened in 1891 and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who also designed Central Park in New York City.
Washington Park was the original site of the Milwaukee Zoo, featuring small mammals and a bird display housed inside a barn. The zoo remained at this location until it eventually outgrew the space and relocated in 1958. Today Washington Park is home to a branch of Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center.
At the north end of the park, runners will continue farther north up Sherman Boulevard for a mile long out-and-back stretch. Sherman Park was once home to many of Milwaukee’s first business owners and these pioneers built their beautiful Craftsman, Bungalow, and Tudor-style homes in the 1920s and 1930s.
Herb Kohl, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin and his college roommate Bud Selig, former MLB commissioner, grew up in the Sherman Park in the 1940s. Both attended Washington High School, located on Sherman Boulevard. Actor Gene Wilder attended Washington High as well, graduating with the class of 1951.
Spectators: Look for a neighborhood party to be happening at the north end of Sherman Boulevard. Students from Washington High School will be out in force as well, manning the aid station in front of the high school and cheering the runners on!
After the marathon and half marathon split at Marquette University, marathon runners will continue heading west on Wisconsin Avenue on their 26.2 mile journey. When they reach 27th street they will enter what is known as the Historic Concordia Neighborhood. This area was named after Concordia College, which used to be located in the neighborhood on West State Street.
In the early 1900s, Concordia was home to Milwaukee’s most prominent and affluent families, however many of the neighborhood’s great Victorian mansions were demolished in the 50s, 60s and 70s. During the mid-80s, neighborhood residents banded together to start bringing the area back to it’s original glory. Together they formed the Historic Concordia Neighbors, Inc. HCNI began working with homeowners to repair and restore houses in the neighborhood.
Today the Concordia Neighborhood is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the larger homes have been converted into bed and breakfasts and in 2000 the area was designated as The Milwaukee Bed and Breakfast District.
Spectators: West Wisconsin Avenue in the Historic Concordia Neighborhood will be a great place to catch your runner after they split from the larger half marathon crowd. Give them a little pick-me-up as they settle to the middle portion of the race. Also, HCNI will be out in force on race day hosting an aid station for our marathon runners on West Wisconsin Avenue!