Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

street sceneThis 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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

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:


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: