Murray Hill Street Name History
By Cynthia Sommer
The French word “bellevue” translates to “beautiful view”. If you were standing on the top of the hill at Belleview Place and Maryland Avenue in the 1880’s, you, as did Frederick Johnson and Moses Brand who named the street, would have been impressed by the beautiful vista. Several people in the city were disturbed by the English version of the French name for the street, even to the point of asking the mayor to change the name. They were unsuccessful and to this day, the street is name Belleview Place.
James Murray who owned much of the land north of North Avenue named Bradford Avenue for John and Joseph Bradford. The two brothers operated a dry goods store after their arrival in Milwaukee in the 1840’s. They were later joined in the business by a third brother, James. John Bradford was involved in banking, insurance companies and he served as president of the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce. James Bradford established a piano and organ store that closed in 2006 after 125 years of business in Milwaukee.
Cramer Street was name after Eliphalet Cramer, an early Milwaukee settler. As a young man of 23 years, he moved to Milwaukee from Waterford N.Y. in 1836. Cramer was a lawyer and businessman who perceived the importance of infrastructure for trade. He invested first in plank roads (e.i, Watertown Plank Rd) and then railroads. He was also a founder and later president of Milwaukee Gas Co and the State Bank of Wisconsin. Still standing at 514 N. Water (near Clybourn) is the second oldest known building in the historic central business district built for Mr. Cramer in 1854. Cramer shared his wealth with various religious and educational institutions and he was a strong supporter of the anti-slavery movement.
Jason Downer was a lawyer, judge and philanthropist. Downer moved to Milwaukee in 1842 after obtaining his law degree from Dartmouth College. He was one of the original founders of the Milwaukee Sentinel and served as editor for 6 months before Rufus Kin was named editor. Downer spent most of his life as a lawyer which prepared him to serve first as a circuit judge and later was elected to the Supreme Court. He disliked judicial duties and after three years returned to private practice and business ventures. He became a wealthy man and left the bulk of his estate to the Wisconsin Female College at Fox Lake which later combined with Milwaukee College. The College was named in his honor as Milwaukee Downer College. Several buildings of the original Downer College still stand on the UWM campus.
Farwell Avenue was named after Leonard J. Farwell. He came to the Milwaukee area in the 1840’s prior to the statehood of Wisconsin and gained wealth with his wholesale hardware business that provided goods throughout the Midwest. Farwell bought substantial areas of land in the village of Madison in the 1850’s and became the second and youngest (age 32) governor elected in Wisconsin as a member of the Whig party. He did lose much of his wealth due to the economic downturn associated with the Panic of 1857 . During the 1860’s, Farwell worked in Washington, D.C. as principal examiner in the US Patent Office. Interestingly, Farwell was present at the Ford Theatre the day President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and was the first person to inform Vice President Andrew Johnson of the assassination.
Hampshire Street was originally named Concord Avenue. The name was change in 1926 to minimize the potential to be mistaken for the nearby Concordia Street. Hampshire Street, as well as Hartford Avenue, was named by John Stowell in 1887 for East Coast Cities.
This short thoroughfare from the Milwaukee River to Lake Drive was originally an extension of Burleigh Street. The boulevard was renamed in 1906 in recognition of part of its location in the Kenwood Park subdivision originally platted by Clarence Shephard in 1891. Several historic congregational buildings and the University give an identity to this boulevard.
The street name and area are named after James Murray, an immigrant from Scotland who came in 1835 to the Milwaukee area before it was a city. The “hill” of Murray Hill is evident as you walk north from Bradford or look south from Locust. Murray shared his skills as a painter and glazer and later as a land developer and farmer. His connection to our area is that he owned the land north of North Avenue – “Murray’s Addition”. James Murray actively participated in the development of the City and shared his wealth by providing nearby land for orphans and the aged.
This majestic boulevard is named after the wealthy Chicago businessman and philanthropist, Walter Loomis Newberry. He is best known for his bequest that resulted in the creation of the Newberry Library in Chicago. He was born in Connecticut in 1804, and then moved to Detroit in 1826 where he founded a successful dry goods company. Newberry joined a group of investors that include William Astor, Lewis Cass and his brother Oliver to purchase extensive amounts of real estate that would later become the major cities of Chicago, Milwaukee and Green Bay as well as much of northern Wisconsin. He moved to Chicago in 1833 and made his extensive wealth in banking, real estate and railroads. The Newberry family owned the land that Newberry Blvd was platted on in 1887. Newberry died in 1868 on a steamship enroute to France.
The city’s first Park Place was name in 1882 in anticipation of the nearby Riverside Park, which was developed a few years later. The name Park Place is one of the few duplicate street names in Milwaukee with the other Park Place located in northwestern Milwaukee, a significant distance from the original Park Place on the eastside. The Urban Ecology Center and the Milwaukee County Parks extended Park Place in 2008 through an addition of a bridge that links the original street to the west side of the Oak Leaf trail.
One of the definitions of the word prospect is a “pleasant view, especially of scenery”. That was the reason that James H. Roger in 1847 gave for naming this street that was located on the bluff and gave a great view of Lake Michigan. He owned the land along Prospect Avenue from Juneau Avenue to Brady Street and west to Humboldt. Prospect Avenue was quite the place to live in the early years of Milwaukee.
John Maxwell Stowell (1824-1907) was a businessman, manufacturer and mayor Milwaukee. He moved to Wisconsin in 1856 and established a small machine shop. In 1867, Stowell expanded his business with Delos L. Filer to form the Cream City Iron works which later incorporated into the Filer and Stowell Co, a manufacturer of sawmill machinery. This company still manufactures sawmill machinery on the south side of Milwaukee, 150 year later. Stowell was also a real estate developer, a state assembleman, city alderman and was elected as a Democratic mayor of Milwaukee in 1882.