Humboldt Park History
Humboldt Park is one of six parks created when the city of Milwaukee established a Parks Commission in 1890. The park was originally named South Park and opened to the public in 1891. Its original 45 acres were completely fenced in. Extensive park construction occurred in 1893. The lagoon was excavated with an adjoining creek decorated by multiple bridges. A boat house was built with rowboats available for rent by the hour. A road was paved through the park from Howell Avenue to Logan Avenue. At its center was a horse drinking fountain.
In 1900, the park was renamed Humboldt Park in honor of Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt, a Prussian geographer and naturalist who did extensive work on botanical geography.
The original boathouse was replaced in 1910 with larger, two story pavilion. A bridge extended from the second floor to the logoon’s larger island. When walking around the lagoon, the foundation of the bridge can still be viewed on the south part of the island.
The World War One memorial, located just west of the lily pond, was dedicated in 1921 honoring soldiers of Bay View who died in the war between 1917 and 1918. Additional land was acquired in 1922 bringing the park to its current size of roughly 71 acres.
Two landmarks were constructed by the WPD during the Great Depression: the current farmhouse style pavilion and the original Art Deco style band shell. In 1936, city and county parks were consolidated under Milwaukee County creating the current nationally recognized park system.
The maintenance building and adjoining wading pool was constructed in 1962. Unfortunately in 1975 the original band shell fell victim to arson and was destroyed by fire. As result, the current Swiss chalet bandshell was built and dedicated in 1977.
Humboldt Park continues to be a center point of the Bay View neighborhood providing a wealth of events and accessible nature within an urban park setting.
A City Park
for the South Side
by Melvin a Graffenius