Lake Park

For more details on this park, please
visit our companion website
2900 N. Lake Dr. and 2800 E. Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A 138 acre park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, located on the shore of Lake Michigan on Milwaukee's East Side


Northwest Boundary

This sign appears on the corner of Lake Drive and Lincoln Memorial Drive. The sign is the same design used in every Milwaukee County Park.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in June 2010



The Significance of Lake Park 

Written by J.R. Manning

The west shore of Lake Michigan features a tall bluff, varying in height but as high as 70 meters, that overlooks the lake. In the mid 1800's, the civic leaders of Milwaukee recognized the importance of preserving public space in the form of parks and began to buy up land throughout the area. One of the spots was the area that is now known as Lake Park. The significance of this site is nothing new, burial mounds of Native Americans were found here.

In 1854, the U.S. Lighthouse service built the North Point Lighthouse on a two acre plat that divided the planned park area. The lighthouse was a new one, a little more than 100 feet southwest of the previous site because of bluff erosion, a problem that continues to this day. The city and the federal government came to an agreement in 1893 that allowed the park to be developed as planned, and the lighthouse continued in operation until it was decommissioned in 1994. The lighthouse is now a part of the park and has been restored.

The Milwaukee Park Commission contracted with Frederick Law Olmsted, the noted landscape architect, to design Lake Park. (Ohlmstead is remembered for designing New York's Central Park, the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the grounds of the Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate.)

The Lion Bridges, that span the ravines that frame the lighthouse, were completed in 1897. The footbridge was built in 1906 and the Grand Staircase in 1908.

You can learn more about this wonderful park and the structures of it at the website of the Lake Park Friends.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 22, 1993
Reference number
Architectural style
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival: Classical Revival
Areas of significance
Archeology - Prehistoric; Landscape Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction; D - Information Potential
Property type
Historic functions
Religious structure; Road-related; Pedestrian related; Park; Graves/burials
Current functions
Ceremonial site; Park; Pedestrian related; Road-related; Outdoor recreation
Periods of significance
1000-500 AD; 499-0 BC; 1900-1924; 1875-1899; 499-0 AD
Significant year
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 2
Contributing structures: 7
Contributing sites: 2
Non-contributing buildings: 4

Update Log 

  • October 25, 2013: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • March 31, 2013: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • March 30, 2013: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • July 1, 2011: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated Status
  • November 6, 2010: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added to new category tag "Effigy Mounds"
  • October 5, 2010: New photo from J.R. Manning
  • July 1, 2010: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • June 30, 2010: Essay added by J.R. Manning