Before Johnsons Park became a community space for the Lindsay Heights neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad for slaves escaping the South and making their way to freedom in Canada.
In 1955, thousands of residents on Milwaukee’s North Side were displaced when their homes were demolished to make room for a new expressway. The state government and federal courts halted the project and Johnsons Park was created in an attempt to mollify the community.
In a 2002 report, the Public Policy Forum listed the park as one of the most neglected in Wisconsin. Preserve Our Parks, a nonprofit focusing on maintaining quality green spaces, reached out to the Center for Resilient Cities for help.The purpose of the initiative was to renovate 19 acres that included Alice’s Garden, Brown Street Academy Schoolyard, and Johnsons Park.
Altogether, it took approximately 12 years to complete, starting in 2005 with Alice’s Garden, and finishing with the completion of Johnsons Park in June of 2016, after two years of renovations.
Message from the Center For Resilient Cities:
With the successful completion of the Johnsons Park Initiative and our joyous celebration in June, a chapter of our resilience work has come to a natural end. We will be closing our Milwaukee office, effective August 31, 2016. You can still find us in Madison at our Blount Street office and at the Badger Rock Center. After a dozen years, we have many thanks to give for the friendship and support of partners, neighbors, and donors we have met along the way.
This move will allow us to focus efforts on our newest project, the Badger Rock Center, where we operate the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center and partner with Badger Rock Middle School to support neighborhood residents, children, and families. We take with us many fond memories as well as lessons learned from our work in Milwaukee’s Lindsay Heights neighborhood. We will miss you; our hearts are full. Please stay in touch and stop in for a tour of our state-of-the-art, sustainably-designed facility in Madison!
Feature photo courtesy of Camille Paul.