The Lost Neighborhood Project

The Near West Side Archives Lost Neighborhood Project is working to understand how Marquette University has physically grown into the institution recognized today. This specific project focuses on Marquette University’s expansion starting in the early 1960s and continuing throughout the 1970s. Within this small period of time the University was able to partner with private donors and the municipal and national governments to erect new buildings, including administrative buildings, academic buildings, and dormitories. As an urban campus, one of Marquette University’s largest challenge during the expansion was readily available space. Since the beginning of the last century, the university had been surrounded by neighborhoods of single family homes, apartments, and small mom and pop businesses. In order to overcome this challenge, Marquette University partnered with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. They worked to rule the neighborhood surrounding Marquette as blighted and in need of urban renewal. Through this process the university systematically bought up many of the individual properties at reduced rates, destroyed the homes, and built the academic buildings students use today. This process dramatically altered the university, and affected people’s lives in the area. The urban renewal that happened at Marquette University is not a unique occurrence. There has been many instances of projects similar to it, as well as a continued effort today to develop urban settings. The Near West Side Archives Lost Neighborhood Project works to reconstruct the neighborhood surrounding Marquette University before its expansion and understand how the urban renewal affected the university, individual residents, and the geography of the area.

To the north of Block 254 sits Wisconsin Avenue and to the south West Clybourn Avenue. On either side of the block sits North 15th Street and North 14th Street. Currently, the block is completely integrated into campus and houses Memorial Library, St. Joan of Arc Chapel, Wehr Physics, Wehr Chemistry, Wehr Life Sciences, and a service building labelled # 23 on Marquette University Campus maps. Before Lost Neighborhood expansion this block was home to many private residences, apartments, and smaller Marquette owned buildings.

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