Postman Square, a once-overlooked traffic triangle in downtown Milwaukee, is coming back to life just in time for summer, with the completion of revitalization efforts led by the area's business improvement district.
Work on the small-scale pocket park, bordered by North Plankinton Avenue, North 2nd and West Wells Streets, has been under construction since earlier this spring. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and other city and business leaders gathered Tuesday morning for a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the newly designed space, now known as Postman's Porch
"Activating public spaces is extremely important, and I think the more that we can create these partnerships that will allow the public to use this space for free is going to be an important asset for Milwaukee," Barrett said.
Milwaukee Downtown BID #21
raised $12,000 in private sector funding to support the $20,000 project. That total included a City of Milwaukee Arts Board grant, which will cover the cost of conserving the park's central statue.
That monument was built in 1989 to honor the nation's letter carriers-- the park itself pays homage to the founding of the National Association of Letter Carriers in 1889.
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Other project improvements include new concrete, sod and landscaping as well as a new garbage can and dog waste station, said Gabe Yeager, who headed the project as downtown environment specialist at Milwaukee Downtown. The park will now include a seating area with brightly colored tables and chairs from neighboring restaurant and project sponsor Brunch.
"We're taking an active role in maintaining the square throughout the summer and continuing programming it," Yaeger said.
In addition to opening the park as a public meeting spot, Milwaukee Downtown plans to host monthly live music events, called Postman's Porch Unplugged. They will feature free food and beer samples from Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. Milwaukee-based Pete's Pops will also make pop-up appearances throughout the summer.
"This type of activity increases foot (traffic to) our brick-and-mortar businesses, stimulates walkability and, of course, it beautifies the neighborhood for everyone," said Beth Weirick CEO of Milwaukee Downtown.
Postman's Square was originally revitalized in 2016 as a placemaking effort headed by NEWaukee. That project brought the community's attention to the space, Yeager said.
"The thing with placemaking is that we just have to make sure the residents and the businesses have a voice in these projects and that we have widespread support. What we learned from it is people like spaces like that-- people like being in a traffic triangle in the middle," he said.