Photo essay: Downtown Milwaukee’s river of kayaks
September 2, 2019 | Topics: Places
By Eddee Daniel
Milwaukeeans love kayaking! At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten when I’ve witnessed the throngs of kayakers on warm summer days in, of all places, downtown Milwaukee. And so, to brighten up your Labor Day, the traditional end of summer, I bring you a photo essay to celebrate what seems to have become a favorite summer pastime in our city: kayaking the Milwaukee River. I’ve never seen so many people kayaking in such a short stretch of waterway (not counting special events.)
I asked Beth Handle, proprietor of the Milwaukee Kayak Company, which is located on the Milwaukee River, if I was right in thinking the numbers are higher. She said, in an email, “Yes, we’ve definitely seen an increase in kayaks and other personal watercraft on our rivers since we opened 7 years ago. Our rivers downtown have become a destination for outdoor recreation.”
Handle added, “we outfit people from all over our area and around the world. Some have a lot of experience and some have none. These people are all different ages and ethnicities. We have many beginner kayakers renting from us as we provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere. We care deeply about our watershed and our city. I think that message has grown and for paddlers especially, kayaking on our rivers has become a form of recreation that people enjoy. We clean up our rivers, spend time on them and enjoy time with family and friends while enjoying time outside kayaking. It’s a fun and positive experience!”
Our visual tour begins in the “up north” of downtown, here at the downstream end of the Milwaukee River Greenway. Just below North Avenue, where a pedestrian bridge connects Caesar’s Park on the east bank with Turtle Park on the west, is the former site of the North Avenue dam. From here we’ll follow the river through the tall buildings of downtown right out into Lake Michigan, with an eye out for kayakers.
Eddee Daniel is a Milwaukee-based photographer and board member of Preserve Our Parks. Website: www.eddeedaniel.com.