TRIANGLE AND MONONA BAY NEIGHBORHOOD
HISTORY OF THE AREA
At the turn of the century, Sicilian and Italian immigrants moved to Madison in search of a better life. Looking for a place to live where they could be close to each other and carry on the traditions of their native land, they moved to a swampy marsh off Monona Bay, an area that resisted development because no one wanted to live there.
No strangers to adversity, the immigrants filled in the marsh using hand tools and perseverance to move the dirt. Houses, shops, and churches began to grow in the transplanted soil.
As African-Americans from the South and new immigrants arrived, the former swamp became home to as many as 14 different ethnic groups. Residents fondly referred to the neighborhood as the “Bush” after the Greenbush plot on which it was located. At its heart was a triangle of land bordered by West Washington Avenue and Regent and Park Streets.
Children grew up and got married; parents became grandparents; two World Wars were fought, and still the community flourished. But by the end of the fifties, the decision to dismantle the Greenbush had already been made. In the name of urban renewal, the families were moved, the houses razed, and a community split apart.
By the early seventies, the Greenbush had been rebuilt into apartments for retirees, and those of low income. Bayview was one of two complexes built for families. The first apartments were rented in 1971. The Norma and Lupe Avila family was one of the first to move in.
Over the next 10 years families moved in and out of Bayvew. By the mid-eighties, the diversity of cultures represented by the residents began to rival that of the Old Bush, but where Greenbush was largely peopled with Italian, Sicilian, African-American, Jewish, Irish, and Eastern European residents, Bayview housed Hmong, Nigerian, Colombian, African-American, Mexican, Cambodian, and Native-American residents.