I was recently in Madison, WI and I thought I’d share my impressions with you. I love wandering around new to me cities and thinking about how they are put together. This is great way for me to think about planning theory. I only visited downtown Madison so this post will focus on that area.
One of the things I enjoyed in Madison was the many great signs. These signs allowed me as visor to learn more about the city and added a sense of history that locals probably appreciate too.
Here you can see a 3d map of the state with a capitol building model, a sign explaining a historic landmark, a sign explaining the geology of Madison sign, and a sign telling about the mushroom farm outside children’s museum.
As the sign explains, Madison is glacial landscape. The capitol building for the state of WI sits on a drumlin, a type of glacial hill, between two lakes. It’s a neo-classical building with a domed roof like many civic buildings in the US. It is very well situated, with the building sitting on top of the hill and eight streets running up to it and terminating at the capitol. Four of these are part of the grid in that area and four run at diagonals to the grid. Each street gives a lovely view of the building at top of the hill. The building itself is surrounded by a square where a farmers Farmers Market is held on Saturdays.
I’m an early riser so I got to the market in time for breakfast. It was lovely to walk around and see all the produce. Above are two pictures of the market and picture of some of my spoils: cheese curds and honey cake, they made a tasty breakfast.
I forgot to take a picture of state street! This might be the most famous (among planners anyways) feature of Madison. State St runs from the capitol building to the campus. It is one of the streets that cuts across the grid at a diagonal that I mentioned. Its a charming main street with many local businesses and good walkablity. I ate at several resturants on State St during my time in Madison, all of which served me tasty food.
While overall I thought downtown Madison was lovely and enjoyed getting to explore the city, there are always things to improve. In Madison one of these is access to the lakes.
Here is a picture I took at the end of the sidewalk near the lake. As you can see the sidewalk ends, then there is are two lines of railroad track, then a four lane highway then a pedestrian path then a park and finally the lake. From where I was standing there was no easy way to get to the lakeside park. I believe that there is a pedestrian crossing to the park in downtown but I didn’t find it in my wanderings.
Still downtown Madison is lovely to visit and walk around it and I hope to go back again.
Just for fun I’m going finish off with a picture of cow sculpture: