Photo Essay: County Grounds

The Milwaukee County Grounds are steeped in civic history.  The insane asylum, the poor farm and the tuberculosis sanatorium were all situated here in the early 1900s.  The government took on some additional responsibility for “the poor, the destitute and the marginalized” by creating four cemeteries in the area, alternately known as “The Poor Farm Cemetery”, “The Almshouse Cemetery” or “Potter’s Field”.   Today, the buildings are crumbling, the cemeteries are marked with plaques, and the grounds are frequented by hikers and dogs.  There is a monarch butterfly trail that has been carefully maintained by volunteers and the park district has taken over one building there for offices, but the future of this area is uncertain at best.   There is talk of power lines and park development as well as commercial development.   The land lies adjacent to a 6 lane freeway, the medical center complex, and a water reclamation plant.   For now, it is the only open land that I can walk to from my house, yet it maintains a ghostly connection to its civic past.  I often try to overlook the traces of the human community there and photograph only wildlife.  Yesterday, though, I decided to open my eyes to whole of it.  Here are some visuals: