The RiverWalk of the Historic Third Ward is adjacent to a mix of residential and commercial businesses and spans the distance from the I-794 freeway to the Harbor entrance to make up the southern most portion of the system.
To capitalize on new interest in the River as a destination for living, shopping, and vacation, the Historic Third Ward Association, Business Improvement District No. 2, and the City of Milwaukee took steps to create a riverwalk that connect to yet distinguish itself from the Downtown’s nearly complete riverwalk. Planning for the $11 million project began in 1999, resulting in the Common Council’s adoption of design guidelines specific to the riverwalk within the Historic Third Ward neighborhood boundaries, extending from the north side of East Clybourn Street to the Lakefront and a portion of the west side of the Milwaukee River extending from the north side of West Clybourn Street southerly to the centerline of the Menomonee River. The City established a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) District to pay for the upfront costs of construction with BID No. 2 reimbursing the City 22% of the riverwalk costs from yearly assessments over a 20 year period.
Riverwalk construction began in 2002. In 2004, the nearly one mile long boardwalk within the Historic Third Ward first opened to the public and by summer of 2005, a connection to the Downtown Riverwalk was completed. Segments continue to be completed (Marine Terminal in 2008, River Renaissance in 2007, 80 foot gap in 2012). Built from Ipe wood, a tropical hardwood, the Historic Third Ward Riverwalk has won several design awards since it opened, including a 2007 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design.
Construction of Riverwalks along the Third Ward Segment must follow the Historic Third Ward RiverWalk Design Guidelines.