Friday, June 21, 2013

Perceptions of Downer: Sendik's

If you are Milwaukeean enough, you know Sendik's.  I came to Milwaukee 10 months ago and know Sendik's.

Though there are several Sendik's stores in Milwaukee, my Sendik's is on N. Downer Ave.  Right after I arrived in Milwaukee, I tended to take a bus, passing through N. Downer Ave., but did not pay much attention to the landscapes of Downer.  On one sunny day, I decided to take a walk from the UWM to my place.  That was when I came across the Sendik's.

Since then, I have tried three different streets to walk back home: N. Downer Ave.; N. Maryland Ave.; N. Oakland Ave.  Downer has been my favorite street probably because I always see people there.  I feel safer and more pleasant in N. Downer Ave.  Coming back from school, Downer Sendik's is the place where my Downer starts; where I start feeling safe, pleasant, and comfortable (passing through the residential area between E. Kenwood Blvd. and E. Park Pl., I feel tense for some reasons – probably because it is too quiet and I see a few people there).

Even with 10 months in Milwaukee, I recognize Sendik's as the center of Downer, not geographically, but conceptually.  So do old-time residents.  We have talked to four current and former residents near Downer, and all of them mention Sendik's.  It might or might not have changed over time, but it has always been central to Downer's landscapes.

We try to understand what Downer means to the residents and workers.  People have different perspectives, but we attempt to capture Downer's physical and sensory characteristics in the past and present, and understand them within a larger context.

By the way, do you know where the name "Sendik" came from?  That is another story which Sal at the Sendik's can tell you.  When you go there next time, pay attention to the stove right next to the entrance.  It did not make sense to me before we talked to Sal, but I now know the meaning.

As I learn more about Downer, I perceive it differently.