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Riverside Park Unique Features

Urban Ecology Center's "Green" Building

Be sure to see these highlights when you visit the Urban Ecology Center "green" building in Riverside Park:

  • Tower with 40-foot climbing wall.
  • One of the largest solar power stations in Wisconsin.
  • Secret entrance where you get to slide into the Center.
  • A hidden classroom. Can you find the 80 animals camouflaged within its four murals?
  • The Native Wisconsin Animal Room, home to turtles, snakes, fish and frogs.
  • Art exhibits in the Community Room.
  • A pond that has a people-powered fountain.
  • The watershed map of southeastern Wisconsin painted on the floor.
  • "Reused" hardwood maple floor that's over 100 years old.
  • Green roof garden that holds the tipi in winter.
  • Wrap around porch made of wood scraps from the construction of the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
  • Rainwater flush toilets – choose between a half tank or full tank flush.

Riverside Park Habitat Playgarden

A group of neighbors concerned about the "old rusty tot-lot", yearned for a fun, safe, welcoming park. Ideas were solicited from local children, seed money was raised and the "habitat" theme was born! Playworks Inc., under the direction of Gerry Slater, and Landscape Architect Margarete Harvey facilitated the design and building process.

As you explore the Habitat Playgarden be sure to:

  • Climb the Spider Web.
  • Play in the Woodland Dune sandbox.
  • Slide down the otter slides and look for the giant frog.
  • Explore the Glacial Features.
  • Have a picnic (if it's raining, bring your picnic to the Center).

Public Art in Riverside Park

Riverside Park is not just a natural beauty; it also has a wonderful collection of art thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers and artists. Be sure to look for the following pieces as you walk around the park.

  • Look for the fantastic archway created by blacksmith Nathaniel Reinartz. Made out of found pieces of iron and steel, this arch is located along the northwest corner of the building and covers about fifteen feet of a curving sidewalk. Shrubs and trees will eventually grow through and over the frame. Learn more about this unique structure in this blog post by Nathaniel himself.
  • A beautiful set of sculptures entitled "Walk like a River" was created by Peter Flanary. Peter was selected through a competitive process by neighborhood residents to enhance the park with his stone and metal art. The first piece, a seven foot circle of glacial field stone wrapped in a bronze cage, is called "Drop" and is located in the playground at the end of Newberry Boulevard. The next, called "Gather", is similar but represents a series of circular "drops" gathering together. Kids are able to climb and interact with this piece just north of the sledding hill. The final sculpture is entitled "Flow". The drops have coalesced into the provocative shape of a walking river: thirty feet of stone and bronze in soft curves that beg you to climb up and sit. This resides in the back of the building above the football field. The three pieces are in a direct line across the park, leading people from the playground to the Center. Many thanks to the Mary Nohl Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and Murph Burke for the financial support to make this happen.
  • The river mural was sponsored by the Milwaukee Riverwalk District as a collaborative project between the Ecology Center and Artists Working in Education. Students who first explored the Milwaukee River corridor in waders and canoe, then spent three days crafting this brightly colored mural.
  • Giant concrete frog and Bronze "Connection" raccoon were created by Wisconsin artist Jeremy Wolf.
  • Cheri Biscoe, a dedicated volunteer artist, painted the welcome sign
  • Katherine Lottes melted the bottles for the donor messages
  • Sally Dubeck, a volunteer,mounted the glass and the mural.
  • Students from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design painted the merry-go-round.
  • Margarete Harvey added her creative touch by designing the artfully sculpted glacial features, raccoon maze, butterfly garden and playground plantings.


"Gather" art sculpture by Peter Flanary in Riverside Part

"Gather" by Peter Flanary - one of a set of three found in Riverside Park



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