Bay View is quickly establishing itself as the next big thing in Milwaukee. Depending on whom you ask, Brady Street and Riverwest may still retain First Place status, but few will disagree that Bay View is closing the gap.
Cutting through the heart of Bay View, Kinnickinnic Avenue is a frenetic street, overflowing with restaurants, bars, cafes, bakeries, gyms, offices, and apartments, all of which spill into various side streets. One standout thing about Bay View, among many standout things, is that the older, colorful architecture that lines both sides of Kinnickinnic has been remarkably well preserved. Bay View’s numerous cafes and restaurants, like Anodyne, Tenuta’s, Three Brothers, Cafe Lulu, Riviera Maya and Pastiche, to name only a bunch, have infused new life into older, historic buildings. Bay View even has its very own, slick Alter… um, Colectivo.
Suburbia has its pros. It is quiet, safe and spacious. For parents raising a family, these qualities can be a huge motivation when deciding whether or not to move out of the city. One of the cons associated with American suburbia however can sometimes be the notable deficiency of local character and history. Many of the houses are basically carbon copies of the other. Restaurants and shops, even churches, are built in a blah, modern, lifeless style devoid of soul, with little character. This isn’t always the case, but my own experience mostly confirms it. Compare Saint Josaphat on the South Side and Saint John Vianney in Brookfield. Tenuta’s to P.F. Chang’s. No contest. Bay View’s Immaculate Conception Parish is also an impressive sight, boasting an elegant steeple that is visible for miles.
I love buildings that harbor dark corners and nooks and crannies. Whether it’s the side chapel of an old church, or a popular restaurant’s tucked away dinning niche, a little mystery in architecture is a great thing. Modern, polished buildings often lack those qualities, opting for perfect symmetry, a climate control system on steroids, and high-intensity lighting that cast out all charm and mystique. For Bay View residents and business owners, restoration, not demolition, is the rule of thumb.
Bay View is also walker friendly. Living in Rome for several years, I hardly ever set foot in a car. I walked everywhere. And not without a bit of pain did my feet quickly adapt to the pace of life in Rome. (In fact, one of my first tips to travelers heading to Rome is to invest in a very good pair of walking shoes.) Simply put, walking is so much more enjoyable than driving. It allows you to take in the scenery, clear the mind, enter into great conversations and, as an added bonus, stay in shape. In terms of its aesthetically appealing layout, Bay View is a walker’s dream come true. If you get tired of the activity of Kinnickinnic, no worries, you’re only a short distance from a tranquil walking trail along Lake Michigan.
Bay View is rising. Stay tuned as we review many of the hot spots in this village.