2017 Armenian Youth Federation Senior Olympic Games, Hosted by the AYF-YOARF Racine “Armen Garo” Chapter, to Take Place in Downtown Milwaukee
The Potawatomi, Fox, Mascouten, Sauk, Ojibwe and Ho-Chunk Indian tribes certainly knew what they were doing when they settled on the western shore of Lake Michigan.
Located at the mouth of a natural harbor and the meeting place of the Milwaukee, Kinnickinnic and Menomonee Rivers, they would appropriately name the area “Millioke” or “gathering place by the water.”
While there are no longer over 10,000 Potawatomi living in Milwaukee, their presence is felt at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino located in the nearby Menomonee Valley on US Trust Land.
By the 1600’s, French missionaries and fur traders, such as Pere Marquette (University) and Solomon Juneau (Street) would also be attracted to the natural port and waterways of this westernmost outpost. The French and Native Americans worked and lived in tandem, with their loyalty to one another so great that the Potawatomi and Ojibwe joined the French in the French & Indian War against Great Britain. By 1846, Milwaukee was a booming commercial trade center and the city became incorporated.
Rapid immigration from Europe starting in the 1840’s changed Milwaukee from a trading center to an industrial and manufacturing leader. Germans would predominate, bringing their progressive politics, beer, and sausage to Milwaukee. Their presence continues to dominate today and a stroll down Old World Third Street features the Old German Beer Hall, Milwaukee Brat House, Uber Tap Room & Cheese Bar, Usinger’s Sausage Factory and Maders German Restaurant.
On top of that, Milwaukee is still the “beer capital of the world” as the four largest breweries of the past, Pabst, Schlitz, Miller and Blatz, continue to be brewed today and they are joined by over 15 craft beer breweries in the downtown area alone.
Poles would also find their way to Milwaukee, settling on the south side of the city and today they are the 5th largest Polish population in the United States. Other European immigrants came from Lithuania, Italy, Ireland, France, Russia, Bohemia, Sweden and, more recently Serbia and Bosnia-Herzogovinia, each settling in their own neighborhoods and introducing their culture, and food to Milwaukee. Polish Fest, Festa Italiana, German Fest, and Irish Fest are just a few of the major ethnic festivals open to the public at the Henry Maier (Summerfest) Festival Park.
During the 20th century, the Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural south to the urban, industrialized, north included Milwaukee. Like in many US Cities, African-Americans in Milwaukee had to contend with discrimination and segregation, mostly in housing and schools, and they were led by Civil Rights leaders Alderperson Vel Philips and Father John Groppi in this struggle. The historic King Drive Business Improvement District is a testament to that struggle as it is home to start-up retailers, manufacturers, personal services, healthcare, and Fortune 500 corporations and connects the downtown to the Brewers Hill, Halyard Park, and Harambee neighborhoods.
Today, Milwaukee’s fastest growing population are Latinos, accounting for 17% of the city’s population, from nearly every Spanish-speaking country on the globe, including Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba, as well as Latin countries throughout Central and South America.
The exciting and vibrant Latino neighborhood just south of downtown, Walkers Point, is a culturally diverse area and the heart of the Hispanic community in Milwaukee. This area is dominated by urban residential areas that include commercial corridors with many small family-owned retail shops, art galleries, historic religious churches, and restaurants such as Conejito’s Place, La Fuente, and Botanos.