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Three Bridges Park: 10 years of recreation, exploration and community

Fishing is one of the ways Milwaukeeans have enjoyed Three Bridges park since it opened in 2013. (Photo by Sam Woods)
Sam Woods
Fishing is one of the ways Milwaukeeans have enjoyed Three Bridges park since it opened in 2013.

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of Three Bridges Park, where an estimated 50,000 people per year go for a brief escape from the concrete of the city.

However, just a couple of decades ago, this land was closed to the public. Originally part of a wild rice marsh, the land that is now Three Bridges Park was the location of the Milwaukee Road railyard before closing in the 1980s following financial troubles.

The site sat vacant and closed off until 2013, when Three Bridges Park opened. Since its opening, Three Bridges Park blossomed into an ecosystem that supports wildlife — including bald eagles, salmon and a type of damselfly that had not been recorded in Milwaukee County for 100 years.

Corey Zetts, executive director of Menomonee Valley Partners, was part of the team who oversaw the transformation of Three Bridges Park from railroad to ecosystem. Since beginning this transformation two decades ago, Zetts is amazed at the transformation that has taken place.

"I think if you were here before ten years ago and saw what this land looked like when there wasn’t even a bit of green space here, you’d be astounded by how much nature has come back," she said.

But there's more here than wildlife. Sandra Lamers Hernandez moved to Milwaukee about five years ago, and she was at the Three Bridges Park and the Urban Ecology Center located there, where she and her family found belonging in a new city.

"I can't imagine this not existing in this space," she said. "This is what brought my family such a sense of community."

On the Menomonee Valley Partners website, you can learn more about Three Bridges Park, including activities and upcoming events.


Sam is a WUWM production assistant for Lake Effect.
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