As you look out over the water, what you’re seeing is the merging of the Milwaukee and Menomonee Rivers in what is known as a confluence. A confluence occurs wherever two or more rivers flow together and form a single channel, creating a new ecosystem distinct from each river on its own.
A confluence creates a blending of energy, species, chemistry, and habitats that allows biodiversity to thrive. Further to the southeast is another confluence, where the Kinnickinnic River also joins the flow before the rivers empty into Lake Michigan.
Across the river, the Milwaukee RiverWalk brings three unique neighborhoods together: Downtown, the Historic Third Ward, and Beerline B. Similar to the confluence, the RiverWalk blends together arts, restaurants, brewpubs, living space, shops, activities, and nightlife, and makes Milwaukee a thriving ecosystem of cultural diversity.
The Milwaukee RiverWalk
In 1988, the City announced the RiverWalk Initiative, a collaborative economic development plan to construct the over three-mile downtown RiverWalk. The RiverWalk and its associated river cleanup were catalytic, advancing significant private sector investment in Milwaukee’s downtown.
Developers transformed warehouses, tanneries, breweries and an abandoned industrial corridor into luxury and affordable residential units, office space, hotel rooms, performing arts centers and dozens of riverfront businesses and restaurants.
Today, Milwaukee’s RiverWalk System is a world-class public amenity that draws hundreds of thousands of people to the shores of the rivers each year.
Milwaukee Urban Water Trail
In front of you is also an access point to the Milwaukee Urban Water Trail, designed by local non-profit Milwaukee Riverkeeper as a cooperative effort to help community members gain safe and legal access to the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers.
The Milwaukee Urban Water Trail is a map for canoes, kayaks, and other small non-motorized boats on the urban portions of our three rivers and lakeshore. It includes access points, portages, hazards, and resting sites, and also includes information on historic, cultural, ecological, and scenic points of interest along the way. The trail connects a large stretch of the Milwaukee River and its tributaries in Ozaukee County to the more urban stretches in Milwaukee County and Lake Michigan.