This is a story of urban development. This picture was taken from the Milwaukee County Grounds about 2 years ago. This land surrounds the abandoned Poor Farm and Insane Asylum that I wrote about in this post. The area to the south and west of those abandoned buildings was identified as a migratory monarch butterfly trail and maintained by a local group who call themselves The Park People. In the last 9 months, this area has been raked over by bulldozers, trees cut down, and the habitat reduced from 239 acres (in 2005) to just 11 acres…which may never recover from the disturbance and resemble this photo again. The construction project was undertaken in order to create “Innovation Park”, UW Milwaukee’s research accelerator and business campus. In addition to this construction, the freeway you see in the background has been re-routed and upgraded to accommodate more traffic. Massive construction vehicles – earth movers, tree destroyers, and jack-hammers – can be heard around the clock from my bedroom window. This had been the largest green space in the county for many years, and I counted myself lucky to be within walking distance from it. But the life of the street, of urban expansion, has depleted the life of the wild and taken over its habitat. In the words of a famous song, “We’ve paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.” The metamorphosis on display now is not the caterpillar changing into a butterfly. It’s Caterpillar Construction Company changing green space into concrete and steel. Try telling that one to the school children when they start their first grade science class.
The most eerie place in town is the abandoned poor farm, insane asylum, and tuberculosis sanitorium on the Milwaukee County Grounds. Even more eerie, this place is now in development and the largest chunk of green space we had is now becoming a Technology and Innovation Center (read: big, modern buildings and roads). My blog post and photos of this place can be found HERE. Sample photos: