Some feelings of early-year optimism come and go, while some become icons. Mandatory Milwaukee is all about the latter. This week: Feeling optimistic about Milwaukee in 2024.

In case you hadn’t heard, we’re now a few days into a brand new year. Crazy, right?! While 2024—an election year (ugh) and the latest ongoing sun revolution immediately following a steady string of ever-worsening years on a divided planet whose days are clearly numbered—probably won’t be particularly good in the grand scheme of things, there are a lot of reasons to feel optimistic about Milwaukee specifically. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling an overriding sense of excitement for the city this year.

Why? How nice (and convenient, given the focus of this article) of you to ask, reader! As last year begins to fade into the past and the promise and rebirth of a new year starts to come into focus, here are just a few of the reasons I’m feeling happy, excited, and downright optimistic to be living in Milwaukee in 2024.

To start, how about the fact that Milwaukee has finally taken a few steps back from the fiscal cliff the city has been on the edge of for decades? Milwaukee’s budget for 2024 was NOT cut for the first time in a long time. In fact, there will actually be an increase in services for a change! Without getting too deep into the weeds (read this if you care to learn more) or starting a debate about the pros and cons of the sales tax increase, this is a huge thing for the fate of the city in 2024…and for years to come.

This year will also continue the rapid evolution of Milwaukee dining. Before year’s end, this now-undeniable “food city” will be home to a wealth of new restaurants and new locations from established area eateries, an abundance of exciting new bars and breweries, and approximately 700 new bubble tea shops. Beyond those arrivals making their mark on the city’s food and drink scene, Milwaukee will make its presence known to an international viewing audience during the upcoming season of Top Chef, which was filmed primarily in and around the region last summer and is slated to begin airing on Bravo sometime this spring. And in terms of Milwaukee Record stuff in the realm of food, our record-setting fish fry expert Caleb Westphal is back to writing articles for us, with at least 39 reviews planned for 2024.

Following a tremendous year in local music in 2023, the city’s music scene seems poised for even bigger and better things in ’24. I’m sure we’ll learn about a bunch of Milwaukee-made albums and EPs as the year progresses, but I’ve already seen some albums teased that I’m really looking forward to, including material from Barely Civil, Garden Home, Known Moons, Sex Scenes, and Next Paperback Hero. Oh, and Milwaukee will have a brand new place to catch both local and up-and-coming national acts when Pabst Theater Group’s new 450-capacity Vivarium venue opens on the East Side this spring. Hell yeah!

Over in the world of sports, fans have already seen what the new-look, Dame-infused Milwaukee Bucks can do, but the title run will really get into full swing between now and early summer. [Vigorously knocking on wood as I type this] Milwaukee has a legitimate shot at winning the whole damn thing this season. In fact, it’s pretty much the expectation at this point. Meanwhile, Marquette Men’s Basketball is currently ranked 7th in the nation as I write this and the Marquette Women’s Basketball team is 19th in the country at the moment. Also, it looks as if the Brewers will be playing in Milwaukee through 2050, which should offer the spendthrift franchise a few more “bites at the apple” or whatever. Cool.

There’s no goddamn way I’ll be here for a moment of it, but I must admit the Republican National Convention will bring an economic boost to the city and will thrust Milwaukee into the national spotlight—albeit for a very specific portion of the country’s population. The RNC is also a chance to show folks Milwaukee is not the city that many so unfairly paint it to be…though I have significant doubts that will be publicly acknowledged by many who come here for the convention or resonate in any lasting way. But I digress!

Done both in preparation for that large scale political undertaking this summer and as part of the Mayor’s ongoing effort to get Milwaukee’s population closer to the unthinkably lofty mark of one million people, the city is undergoing an exciting transformation that’s going to truly start taking shape in 2024. Milwaukee is putting down new tracks (both metaphorically and quite literally). The skyline is noticeably changing and specific streets are being reimagined. Local pride is swelling and the city’s identity is shifting.

Though I’m unsure of exactly what’s to come Milwaukee’s way in 2024, I’m filled with a sense of intrigue, anticipation, and optimism instead of abject uncertainty or underlying dread. No, I might not know what the next 12 months hold for the city, but I sure as hell can’t wait to find out. Here’s to a great 2024, Milwaukee!

About The Author

Avatar photo
Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.