Neighborhood Spotlight: Everything You Need to Know About Marquette/ Willy
Photo Credit: Rizzi Studio
The Marquette/ Willy district is beloved for its character and diversity. Touted as one of the nation’s “10 Great Neighborhoods” the area is naturally one of the most popular places in the city. Williamson Street (AKA “Willy”) is an eclectic mix of locally owned shops and creative types. Historic homes and sleek contemporary condos live in harmony. All residents of the neighborhood can get behind the “Keep Willy Street Weird” flag that can be spotted throughout the district. Marquette/Willy is mecca for Madison artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. The neighborhood sits on the eastern side of the isthmus and is bike-able to downtown and the university (it brags a bike score of 98!).
History of Marquette
The Marquette neighborhood has been a vibrant district since its inception in the early twentieth century. Greek Revival, Italianate, and Arts and Crafts Bungalow homes were constructed among the tree-lined streets. Streetcars zipped down Williamson Street transporting Marquette residents throughout their community. In 1911 city planner John Nolen proposed a park system in Marquette that connected lakes Mendota and Monona by a park that ran alongside the Yahara River. His dream was finally realized in 2008, nearly a century after its proposal.
Recreation in Marquette
Yahara River Parkway
The Yahara River bisects the Marquette neighborhood. The Yahara River Bike Path lines the western shore. For a longer ride, bikers can connect to the Capital City Trail which extends nearly to Cottage Grove.
The Yahara River serves more than bikers. Joggers, walkers, kayakers, and fishermen all enjoy the vibrant greenspace.
BB Clarke Beach Park
The perfect destination for summer beach days. Bring a picnic and spend all day relaxing by the water. In the summer months, a lifeguard watches over the designated swimming area. Kids can enjoy the playground equipment.
Yahara Place Park
Set up a hammock and enjoy the view at Yahara Place Park in a space where the river meets the lake. Grill, walk, kayak, picnic, or simply enjoy the view.
Marquette/ Willy Community Life
Marquette is part of the Madison Metropolitan School District. Homes in the Marquette neighborhood are zoned for:
- Marquette Elementary School
- Lowell Elementary School
- O’Keeffe Middle School
- Madison East High School
Annual Events in Marquette:
Marquette/ Willy’s warmer months are defined by local festivals. The hugely successful street fairs bring in people from all over the city.
- Marquette Waterfront Festival— This June festival raises the curtain on summer fun. Bands play along the waterfront and local vendors, artists, and beer tents fill Yahara Place Park.
- Fete de Marquette— July hosts the largest neighborhood event. Festival runners collaborate with local artists and musicians to create a memorable experience.
- Orton Park Festival—Orton Park Festival is one of the longest-running outdoor music festivals in the country. Don’t miss this year’s August lineup.
- Willy Street Fair—September’s Street Fair closes down the summer with circus artists, music, and nightlife.
Best places to dine and drink
- Willy Street Co-Op— This locally owned natural foods store is a neighborhood favorite for groceries. We grew up learning you should never grocery shop while hungry… but in this case we recommend it. We love any excuse to make a pitstop at their hot bar.
- A Pig In A Fur Coat— Small plates and specialty cocktails make this local hotspot a favorite date night destination.
- Weary Traveler Freehouse— The weary traveler has mastered being cozy and unpretentious without falling into the category of a “dive”. Pub grub and a great beer selection make this spot a favorite haunt.
Live music and entertainment
Marquette is known for its host of talented artists, and musicians. These creative types come alive in the Marquette nightlife scene. On any night of the week, you can pop into one of Marquette/ Willy’s small venues to see comedy, music, or theatre. Check out:
- The Sylvee is one of Madison’s largest and most popular music venues. The venue brings nationally recognized artists and DJs to Madison.
- Local bands (from metal to folk) at High Noon Saloon.
- Blues, funk, and bluegrass at Up North.
- Experimental theatre at the prolific Broom Street Theatre
- The intimate Jazz scene at Cafe CODA.
Homes for sale in Marquette/ Willy
The median listing price for a home in Marquette is $598,000. The market is trending up 26.7% from last year. Architecture in Marquette varies between historic homes, bungalows, and luxury condos. It’s also a popular neighborhood for waterfront living. All homes in the neighborhood are only blocks away from the lakeshore. Get in touch if you’re interested in learning more about living in the Marquette/ Willy neighborhood.