Discover Historic Water Recreation

Have you been to one of our beaches along Lake Michigan yet this summer? Did you know that Bradford Beach, Lincoln Memorial Drive, Veterans Park, and the Summerfest Grounds were all constructed on what used to be lakebed? They were all filled in with land.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, before Milwaukeeans went down to our lakefront beaches in droves, they congregated in and along the Milwaukee River upstream of the former North Avenue Dam. Check out the video overview above to see where there used to be swimming schools along the river’s banks.

To explore more, access the Milwaukee Community Map in Google Earth Pro on Desktop. Toggle on the "Historic Water Recreation” Deeper Dive, then click on the features of interest to learn more. There are also nifty place-based links to video segments of A City Built on Water, the film by John Gurda and Claudia Looze.