Geography of Milwaukee
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Milwaukee lies along the shores and bluffs of Lake Michigan at the confluence of three rivers: the Menomonee, the Kinnickinnic and the Milwaukee. Smaller rivers, such as the Root River and Lincoln Creek also run throughout the city. Because Lake Michigan is too large to see across, Milwaukee's waterfront resembles an ocean rather than an inland lake.
Milwaukee's terrain is relatively flat, except for steep bluffs along the lakeshore that begin about one half mile north and four miles (6 km) south of the downtown.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 251.0 km2 (96.9 sq mi). 248.8 km2 (96.1 sq mi) of it is land and 2.2 km² (0.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.88% water.
The city runs largely on the grid system, although in the far northwest and southwest corners of the city, the grid pattern gives way to a more suburban-style streetscape. North-south streets are numbered, and east-west streets are named. However north-south streets east of 1st street are named, like east-west streets. The north-south numbering line is along the Menomonee River (east of Hawley Road) and Fairview Avenue/Golfview Parkway (west of Hawley Road), with the east-west numbering line defined along 1st Street (north of Oklahoma Avenue) and Chase/Howell Avenue (south of Oklahoma Avenue). This numbering system is also used to the north by Mequon in Ozaukee County, and by some Waukesha County communities.
It is crossed by Interstate 43 and Interstate 94, which come together downtown at the Marquette Interchange, which underwent an extensive construction project completed in 2008 at a cost of around $810 million. The Interstate 894 bypass runs through portions of the city's southwest side, and Interstate 794 comes out of the Marquette interchange eastbound, bends south along the lakefront and crosses the harbor over the Hoan Bridge, then ends near the Bay View neighborhood and becomes the Lake Parkway.