Milwaukee, WI (MKE)
Marked by a soaring glass-enclosed atrium with prominent cross braces, the Milwaukee Intermodal Station includes a passenger waiting area, commercial spaces and offices.
433 West St. Paul Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 597,134
- Facility Ownership: Wisconsin Department of Transportation
- Parking Lot Ownership: Wisconsin Department of Transportation
- Platform Ownership: Wisconsin Department of Transportation
- Track Ownership: Canadian Pacific Railway - SOO Line Railroad Company
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The Milwaukee Intermodal Station (MIS) was dedicated on November 26, 2007, and is the result of a $17 million transformation of the former downtown rail station, built in 1965, into a modern facility that serves as the gateway to the city. Along with the construction of a new three-story, glass-enclosed atrium and other exterior renovations, the interior of the remodeled facility features a new lobby area serving Amtrak and intercity bus customers, as well as restaurant and other retail businesses. The second and third floors were refurbished for new tenants, including the State’s Traffic Operations Center. A new parking area has also been provided.
Federal funds contributed $7.4 million for the project. The city of Milwaukee provided $6 million and the state of Wisconsin contributed over $528,000. Milwaukee Intermodal Partners, facility managers, gave nearly $3 million to this remodeling effort. C.G. Schmidt of Milwaukee was the general contractor, and Eppstein-Uhen Architects was the architect.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation, which owns the MIS, unveiled a reconstructed train passenger concourse in June 2016. The $22 million, 18 month project ensures that the 400 foot long concourse provides easy access for all passengers. Designed to harmonize with the intermodal station’s modern aesthetic, the concourse features a custom fabricated 3-D tubular truss roof with skylights, a mezzanine spanning five tracks and three boarding platforms and a new ventilation system. New stairways, escalators and elevators improve passenger flow, while lighting and signage enhance wayfinding. The facility also includes state-of-the-art hearing technology for customers who are hard of hearing.
Milwaukee has had three versions of its main passenger rail station to date. The brick Gothic Everett Street station opened circa 1887 during the boom era of American railroading, its grounds two blocks north of the present station. The brick headhouse of that station featured a spired clock tower that dominated the south side of the business district, as well as a train shed spanning five tracks.
In 1953, the ornate clock tower was removed due to structural concerns, a move that coincided with the general decline of passenger rail travel at the time. The Everett Street station’s tracks crossed a number of busy streets in the area, the arrivals and departures tying up traffic, thereby leading to the city pressing for a new station for the Milwaukee Road and the relocation of the Chicago and North Western (C&NW) trains.
Designed by the architectural firm of Donald L. Grieb and Associates of Milwaukee, the new station was dedicated on August 3, 1965, and saw its first train arrival the next day with the Morning Hiawatha. The Everett Street station was then closed and within days gutted by a mysterious fire.
The newer three-story station was the antithesis of the nearby Everett Street station, with a minimalist design that included recurring arches and an open bell tower. It served passenger trains of the Milwaukee Road and North Western, after that company closed its own lakefront station in 1966. The building also served as offices for freight railroads succeeding the Milwaukee Road, including the Soo Line and Canadian Pacific. Amtrak began using the facility on May 1, 1971, taking over some of the Milwaukee Road’s Chicago-Milwaukee service and a re-routed Empire Builder. All North Western passenger service in Milwaukee ended at that time.
The state of Wisconsin bought the station in 1999 and signed a contract to renovate it in 2003. On October 13, 2003, Frank Busalacchi, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Scott D. Mayer, president of Milwaukee Intermodal Partners, LLC, signed contracts to begin the projected $5.4 million rehabilitation project. Those plans evolved prior to its 2006 construction, and the project was completed in 2007 to much acclaim.
Milwaukee rests on the shore and bluffs of Lake Michigan, at the confluence of three rivers: the Menomonee, the Kinnickinnic, and the Milwaukee, with a number of smaller river flowing through the city as well. The region was first visited by European fur traders and missionaries in the 1700s, but not until French-Canadian explorer Solomon Juneau arrived were there permanent settlements. In 1846, Juneau’s settlement combined with two neighboring towns to form the City of Milwaukee; Solomon Juneau became the city’s first mayor.
Large numbers of German immigrants swelled the city’s population in the 1840s as they escaped wars in Europe. In addition to Germans, Milwaukee saw large influxes of immigrants from Poland, Italy and Ireland as well as many Jews from Central and Eastern Europe. By 1910, Milwaukee had the distinction of having the largest percentage of foreign-born residents in the United States.
Milwaukee became synonymous with Germans, beer, and brewing beginning in the 1850s. By 1856, there were more than two dozen breweries in Milwaukee, most German-owned and operated. It was once home to four well-known names in brewing: Schlitz, Pabst, Blatz and Miller. Wisconsin also became the second-largest wheat-growing state in the U.S. by 1860, shipping both by boat and rail through Milwaukee’s port.
The city’s function as a transportation nexus also contributed to a growth in flour mills, meat packing plants and tanneries. A distinctive cream-colored clay native to the area earned Milwaukee a reputation for its brickyards; the bricks were known as “Cream City” brick and by 1881, the largest brickyard in the world at that time was Burnham’s in Milwaukee. Along with processing, bulk storage, machining and manufacturing also entered the city’s economy.
Milwaukee today remains an industrial city, with brewing and manufacturing retaining a large portion of its economy. The city has also made strides in revitalizing various neighborhoods, enhancing the image of historic districts and attracting new businesses to its downtown.
The Hiawatha Service is financed primarily through funds made available by the Illinois and Wisconsin State Departments of Transportation. Amtrak provides both ticketing and baggage checking, but no help with baggage at the Milwaukee station, which is served by more than a dozen daily trains.
- 425 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Ticket Office
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Baggage Storage
- Bike Boxes
- Checked Baggage
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Quik Trak Kiosk
- Shipping Boxes
- Short Term Parking Spaces
- Ski Bags
- Ticket Office
- Wheelchair Lift