I recently read a column in an old 1979 newspaper lamenting the closing of a long-time Louisville dining landmark. It was clear the writer saw this as just one more of many blows the center city had recently taken, and that he didn’t have a lot of hope for the future, either.
He described downtown Louisville as “a cavernous, hostile place, the broken heart of a city that has seen its share of trouble,” And he wasn’t alone. Many locals felt the center city was doomed because of poor race relations, the loss of retail, an invasion of porn shops and ill-conceived “solutions” like converting Fourth Street into a pedestrian mall.
Fortunately, we now know the patient got better. More optimistic citizens rolled up their sleeves and got busy, and over the next 37 years developed ideas like the Convention Center, Waterfront Park, Fourth Street Live, Center for the Arts, Slugger Field, the new arena and the preservation and development of West Main. Those, and so much more, have transformed the virtual corpse into the jewel it is today.
I’m sad to still hear some people call downtown a terribly dangerous place they’d never dare visit, but seeing this old article makes me realize there have always been pessimists and will always be. Nonetheless, the truth is, downtown Louisville is now a great place. And its future has never been brighter.
I’m Bill Lamb and that’s my Point of View.