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Essay: A Sustainable Lakefront View

Teecycle Tim/Flickr

Milwaukee’s lakefront is as representative of the city as the Art Museum, Miller beer or the Brewers. For essayist Mark Siegrist, who grew up here, that lakefront is Milwaukee at its most elemental:

As Milwaukee’s skyline gets taller, and the potholes get deeper, one thing remains the same: that sustainable lakefront view along Lincoln Memorial Drive.

You might say it’s the heart and soul of Milwaukee. Ever since I was a kid I was drawn to it. I don’t think I’m the only one. It is constant, yet fluid. Both threatening and peaceful. From shades of blue, to gray. Always compelling. A perspective that’s as far as the eye can see.

Maybe that’s the lure. Infinity. The other side is left to the imagination. Seagulls, ships, and planes in the air serve as a distraction. But what really holds our interest is what we don’t see, beyond our view: So how powerful is it?

This time of year Lincoln Memorial is Main Street Milwaukee. For home-towners and visitors alike, like a herd of humanity, we’re drawn to the winding stretch of lakefront roadway, by any means possible. We walk it, bike it, and drive it with the windows rolled down. Just to catch a glimpse. To feel the breeze. The warmth of the sun. To file a snapshot of aqua blue in our brains. Through good days and bad. The passage of time. And life chapters beyond our control.

There’s nothing like the diversion of that iconic Milwaukee lakefront view.

Lake Effect essayist Mark Siegrist is a freelance television producer. Siegrist has produced documentaries on MPTV, including Milwaukee’s Muslim Faithful and Milwaukee’s Vowed Women of Faith.