A Hop, Skip, & a Swing Away

A short walk from Kadish Park is Swing Park, one of Milwaukee’s more offbeat parks. However, it’s not a particularly scenic park, so I don’t have a lot of photos of the park itself. I do have a few from the walk, though, so here we go!

WW Bridge
The Holton Street Bridge, over the Milwaukee River

To get from Kadish Park to Swing Park, we headed downhill toward the Holton Street Bridge. Also known as the Marsupial Bridge (or, more formally, the Holton Viaduct Marsupial Bridge), the pathway part of this bridge is meant for pedestrians and bicyclists to safely cross the river while avoiding the traffic above. It’s a pretty slick design, and the bridge itself is an impressive structure, but the best is yet to come.

Once you reach the other side of the path, you have arrived at Swing Park. Hanging from the underbelly of Holton Street Bridge are – you guessed it – swings. Previously a public space called the Urban Plaza/Media Garden, the swings were added by an “improv-architecture” group called beintween (now known as RSELVES) in September 2012. It wasn’t all fun and games from there on out, though; because of safety concerns, most of the swings were removed in 2013 by DPW. As some kind of protest, beinwteen took down the remaining swings shortly after. Chaos ensued.

Well, maybe not chaos, but people were pretty ticked off. There were “save the swings” campaigns popping up left and right, and someone even started a Kickstarter to save “Swing Park.” You can read a lot more about the rise and fall of Swing Park via the links below, but the short version is this: we got the swings back.

On our visit, we found that most were tire swings, though not really in the way we normally think; many were traditional style swings that happened to be made from tires. They were surprisingly comfortable and supportive, which is always a plus in my book. And fear not, adults! The swings were quite sturdy; neither my husband nor I were worried about breaking them or causing anything to collapse. (Bonus: Our butts actually fit on the swings, too!)

WW Hubby
Swing, baby, swing!

There are some non-tire swings as well. We saw one of those big, plastic swings (I don’t know what they’re called; I always think of them as “recliner” swings since you have a backrest and all), but the wind was just hurling it this way and that way, so I’m not sure we could have gotten on it safely had we wanted to. Based on pictures encountered during my research, it looks like there are other types of swings as well, though I imagine it probably varies based on time of year (weather and demand), as well as the state of the current swings (no point in taking down perfectly functional swings, right?). Safety probably has something to do with it, too, but, whatever.

We didn’t stay long, but we did both take part in some good old-fashioned swinging. There’s something peaceful about swinging, even when you’re doing so underneath a bridge in the middle of a big city in late February. Cold? Yes. But still a bit magical. It’s nice to leave adulting behind for a few minutes.

We took a slightly different route back toward Kadish Park than we used on the way to Swing Park and found a sign at the intersection of Glover and Booth. The sign explains who the streets were named for: Joshua Glover, a fugitive slave freed from Milwaukee County jail in 1854, and Sherman Booth, the leader of the group who freed him. Booth had a street named after him just 3 years later, but it took 140 years for Glover to get his, thanks to some local high school students. At the bottom, the sign reads, “May all who traverse the intersection named for these two men be inspired by their struggles in the case of human freedom.”

 

Rounding out our trip with a stop at Swing Park was, I feel, exactly what the park is meant for. Swing Park isn’t necessarily your intended destination (unless you just really want to swing under a bridge, or you’re headed to their summer bike-in movie series), but if you’re in the area with some time on your hands, it’s the kind of place you think, “Yeah, that would be fun! Let’s do it!” And you’d be 100% correct. It is fun, and you should do it. Just heed the warning: Swing at your own risk.

 

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Once again, I am going to combine the tips and links sections for this one:

  • For some more background on Swing Park, check out this article from Only In Your State. Or this one from OnMilwaukee. Or even this one from Urban Milwaukee!
  • Milwaukee Record has a great little article from 2017 about their bike-in movie series, which I just found out about and seriously hope happens again this year.
  • Additional information about the Holton Street Bridge can be found here and here.
  • Check out Instagram for more pictures of Swing Park. You can find it as a location or search using various words or hashtags (like #swingparkmke).
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