5 things to know about the Avenues West neighborhood

The Ambassador Hotel, at 2308 W. Wisconsin Ave.
The Ambassador Hotel, at 2308 W. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

There are more than 75 distinct neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

Here’s what to know about Avenues West – a historic landing spot for immigrants, the site of Marquette University and home to a wide range of attractions for the arts.

More: Neighborhood guide: Havenwoods

More: Neighborhood guide: Menomonee Valley

Where is Avenues West?

Avenues West is located on Milwaukee’s near west side. Its approximate boundaries are West Highland Avenue, West Clybourn Street, Interstate 43 and North 27th Street.

More: Neighborhood guide: Enderis Park

More: Neighborhood guide: Sherman Park

More: Neighborhood guide: Rufus King

What is the history behind Avenues West?

Avenues West has gone through a variety of changes over the last 150 years. In the 1870s, it attracted some of the area's wealthiest people – including big local names such as Patrick Cudahy, John Plankinton and Frederick Pabst, according to “Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods,” by John Gurda.

The area back then was so stocked with mansions that the main thoroughfare in the area – today known as Wisconsin Avenue – was called Grand Avenue.

Over time, the neighborhood was reshaped by the expanding Marquette University and other development such as hospitals and apartment buildings. Many of the area’s mansions were either removed for such development or split into multifamily units.

The Gesu church steeple is seen as the sun sets at Marquette University on Sunday May 15, 2022.
The Gesu church steeple is seen as the sun sets at Marquette University on Sunday May 15, 2022.

Apart from the growing student population, the area has historically attracted immigrants from such places as Ireland, Croatia, Hungary, Syria and Lebanon, according to Urban Anthropology Inc. Today, the neighborhood has a mixture of white, Black, Latino and Asian residents.

What is special about Avenues West?

Apart from the goings-on of a major private university, there are quite a few buildings worth checking out, from a cultural, historical or architectural perspective.

One of the last relics of the Grand Avenue era of the area is the Pabst Mansion, the home of beer baron Frederick Pabst. Its design is referred to as either a Flemish or German Renaissance Revival, and the home contains period furniture and fine art.

The Irish Cultural Heritage Center of Wisconsin is the spot for Irish concerts, cultural events, art and more. But it also occupies the former Grand Avenue Congregational Church building, which hosted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s first visit to Milwaukee, according to Urban Anthropology Inc.

Mrs. Pabst Parlor at the Pabst Mansion on West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee.
Mrs. Pabst Parlor at the Pabst Mansion on West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee.

The Ambassador Hotel, built in 1927, has become known as an Art Deco landmark in Milwaukee after being renovated in the 2000s.

The hotel is also believed to be the site of one of the murders committed by serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who lived in the Avenues West neighborhood for a time. The apartment building he lived in when he was arrested is now a vacant lot located at 924 N. 25th St.

What are some other attractions of Avenues West?

Miss Katie's Diner, at 1900 W. Clybourn St.
Miss Katie's Diner, at 1900 W. Clybourn St.

There are a range of restaurants to enjoy. There’s the Marquette staple Real Chili. There’s Miss Katie’s Diner, a time portal back to the 1950s. At the 5 O’Clock Steakhouse you can enjoy a supper club atmosphere. If soul food is what you’re after, Daddy’s Soul Food & Grille has the goods.

And there are plenty of other things to explore.

The Rave/Eagles Club is one of Milwaukee’s most popular concert venues and frequently hosts big-name acts.

The Haggerty Museum of Art has offered exhibitions on the Italian Renaissance, American self-taught artists, American printmaking and photography and contemporary art from Wisconsin and around the globe.

New to the neighborhood? Here’s how to access Milwaukee services

Tell us about your Milwaukee neighborhood. We want to hear from you!

What makes your Milwaukee neighborhood special to you? Do you have any photos in the neighborhood you'd like to share? Share more at bit.ly/MKE_Neighborhoods.

Contact Elliot Hughes at elliot.hughes@jrn.com or 414-704-8958. Follow him on Twitter @elliothughes12.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A guide to Milwaukee's Avenues West neighborhood