6:29PM Mar 5, 2019
Jonese Franklin (announcer)
central business district
From Louisville Public Media. Support for Curious Louisville comes from Lakshmi Farms which believes in building community and expanding minds through progressive ideas, education, and growing soil right here in Anchorage, Kentucky.
Louisville is a city of neighborhoods. For a lot of people, where they live is a big part of their identity. And Curious Louisville listener Evan Patrick wondered about how one neighborhood developed an identity of its own:
What was called before it became Old Louisville?
WFPL's Ashlie Stevens looked into the answer.
I'm standing on the sidewalk in front of the Filson Historical Society. 1310 South Third Street, right in the heart of the Old Louisville neighborhood. But if I was standing in this exact spot about 60 years ago, and I asked where I was, no one would have said Old Louisville. They would have probably just said... Louisville.
The southern extension, just the southern part of the city.
That's Jim Holmberg from the Filson Historical Society.
I'm the curator of collections.
And he's helping me get to the bottom of our latest Curious Louisville question from listener Evan Patrick, about what Old Louisville was called before it was "old."
It didn't get dubbed Old Louisville until 1961 when preservation renovation efforts started. As business grew and kind of kept moving south, residential areas kept moving south.
When we think of Old Louisville now, Holmberg says we have some semi official boundaries.
Kentucky Street south to U of L, and then basically Floyd Street interstate 65 on the east, over to 6th, 7th street on the west.
But for about a century, the area we now know as old Louisville was basically a nameless suburb.
Oh it was very much the suburbs.
At the time, d evelopers kept slowly building out from the Ohio River and then from the central business district, notably in 1869 architect Gideon Shyrock called the area a growing and beautiful suburban locality, one with massive amounts of impressive Victorian architecture.
As the 20th century proceeded on, and new areas of the Highlands and further in the east end, Old Louisville declined. People moved out during World War Two. A lot of the old houses were cut up for apartments because of the war.
So the once-affluent suburb slowly became a still nameless neighborhood with some seedy spots, but lots of potential. Then the 1960s hit, and people realized in order to save the area, they would need to name the area.
With the the rise of preservation, appreciating the architectural history of an area not only here in Louisville, but across the country, that really kind of spark that effort. So in 1961, a group got together to really work on Old Louisville.
Holmberg says it was really just a group of individuals that started preservation efforts and they started using the term Old Louisville in their literature. Then the city got involved and the area is now a historic preservation district.
And of course now a lot of that effort is is still going on this curious level question came from Evan Patrick. It was reported and produced by me, Ashlie Stevens.