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Historic Third Ward

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Welcome to the Historic Third Ward

From its early beginnings to today's community, enhanced by its historic ambiance and significant architecture, the Historic Third Ward has experienced a renaissance as a revitalized mixed-use neighborhood. Here you will find the highest concentration of art galleries in Milwaukee, award-winning restaurants, unique specialty stores, architects, advertising agencies, graphic designers, artists, the Broadway Theatre Center, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design as well as condominiums, office buildings, and industrial space.

Historic Third Ward Association Mission Statement

The Historic Third Ward Association acts as a catalyst to develop the district as an innovative, livable and exciting mixed use neighborhood while preserving its historic and creative character.

General Information

The Historic Third Ward (HTW) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Milwaukee's oldest center of commerce and warehousing. It was also the site of Milwaukee's most devastating fire and its most remarkable rebuilding efforts.

In 1892, "The Great Third Ward Fire" devastated 16 square blocks of Milwaukee's vital, riverfront commerce area. The dollar value of property damage was estimated at $5 million, which is the equivalent of $60 million by today's standards. Reconstruction began almost immediately and within 30 years, the district was rebuilt into the bustling and vital commerce district it had once been. Designed by local well known architects, the neighborhood's buildings have a visual continuity that creates a unique urban expression.

Today the Third Ward is home to over 400 businesses and maintains an unparalleled position within the retail and professional service community as Milwaukee's showcase mixed-use district. The neighborhood's renaissance is anchored by many extraordinary shops, restaurants, art galleries, theatre groups, dance companies, photographers, advertising agencies and graphic artists.

The Historic Third Ward is a hub for artistic activity and exhibition within Milwaukee and is currently home to more than 20 galleries and art studios, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD), the Off-Broadway Theatre, and the Broadway Theatre Center, which houses the world-renowned Skylight Opera Theatre and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. The centerpiece of this complex is a 385-seat 17th Century baroque style theatre. In 2001, the Historic Third Ward Association began co-sponsoring the premier quarterly art event Gallery Night and Day, which attracts over 5,000 people four times a year to our neighborhood.

While 2004 saw an influx of upscale women's boutiques, children's clothing shops and high-end home furnishing businesses, even more retail growth occurred with the opening of the Milwaukee Public Market in 2005. Estimates reflect that the Market draws 20,000 visitors to the neighborhood weekly.

There has also been a large growth of residential units; starting with 240 units in 1999, in 2004 it rose to 778 and by 2010 over 1,250 units will be completed. The Third Ward is also home to over 500 MIAD students, with 150 living in the student dormitories.

The Historic Third Ward also includes the Henry W. Maier Festival Park, Summerfest and weekly ethnic festivals which bring in over 2,000,000 people to the area yearly. The Italian Community Center, located one block from the Summerfest grounds, brings in over 500,000 visitors by itself.

The HTW provides an exceptional climate in which to house a business and receives strong civic and business support. The Historic Third Ward Association, established in 1976, works with neighborhood residents, businesses, merchants, real estate developers and brokers, community organizations, and civic leaders to foster, promote and encourage business retention, expansion and recruitment in the local area. Over 5,000 employees work in over 450 businesses within a 60 block area, which is only half developed.

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Details and Specs

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