A Rainbow of Cultures at the Silver City InterNational Festival
The neighborhood known as Silver City is located on Milwaukee’s south side, running from Layton Boulevard to Miller Park Way, with the Menomonee Valley along its north border and Greenfield Avenue to the south. It’s one of the city’s most ethnically diverse places. But for years, it suffered from an image problem as nearby factory jobs dried up.
Today, the neighborhood is undergoing something of a renaissance, which will be on full display over the weekend. The area’s Silver City InterNational festival - there’s a double meaning to the name - takes place this Saturday.
Gisela Ortega is the community outreach manager for the Silver City neighborhood and Celia Benton is economic development manager for the group Layton Boulevard West Neighbors. And Nelson Lopez is a resident of Silver City.
"Silver City did face a bit of a rebirth, and it's definitely at the height of this rebirth trend right now," says Ortega. "In recent years we have more cultural diversity. We have a strong Asian-American business ownership contingency, as well as Latin-American, Caucasian and others. It has become a melting pot for really good ethnic cuisine, Laotian, Thai, etc."
"It has that same mom and pop mentality of small businesses," she continues. "First and second generation immigrants trying to make a go of it, trying to take advantage of the rebirth of the Menomonee Valley next door."
As for the festival, which will include multicultural entertainment and food, Nelson Lopez says, "what I like is the mixture of cultures and ethnicities and peoples. Sometimes you know where the Polish community is, you know where the Mexicans are, where the Puerto Ricans are. Along these three streets that are closed for the festival, you don't know where people are from. You hear different languages, different colors, and it's all fun."