Louisville’s Urban Landscapes
I’ve lived in Louisville for almost three years now and the main attraction I hear boasted is the number of restaurants. Yes, there are a lot of restaurants, both franchise and hometown, but the first distinction I noticed about Louisville was the urban parks. There are more than 120 public parks in the metropolitan alone and many were created by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. Olmstead was responsible for creating New York City’s Central Park, which explains the urban appeal to Louisville’s parks.
Cherokee Park is Louisville’s standout park with its 2.4 mile scenic loop, bird sanctuary, and a fenced-in dog park. 500,000 people visit the park alone each year. Iroquois Park, which Olmstead first planned as a “scenic reservation” has 739 acres, panoramic views, an amphitheater, and a golf course. Downtown’s Waterfront Park is 85 acres and makes an impressive use of green space bisected by interstates. Shawnee Park, which was designed by Olmstead, is a highlight of West Louisville and features 200 acres, an 18-hole golf course, state-of-the-art sports complex, and a path that follows the Ohio River edge. Algonquin Park, also located in West Louisville, is also designed by Olmstead and has an outdoor pool, basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts, a baseball field, a spray park, and a playground.
The Louisville Extreme Park has 40,000 sq. ft. of concrete for skaters with a 24 ft. full pipe and various size bowls for skaters and bikers of any skill level. The Olmstead-designed Central Park, which happens to be the very first park I visited upon coming to Louisville, sits amongst the very recognizable Old Louisville, is compact, and yet has scenic walkways, plenty of trees, and host space for the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. McNeely Lake Park has a 46-acre fishing lake, horseback riding stables, a Korean War memorial, a model airplane flying field, a boat ramp, and several hiking trails.
Yes, the restaurant landscape is one of Louisville’s best features, but I see the forest (Louisville) for the trees. The urban parks are definitely a commodity to the city I think deserves a little more shine. There are tons of parks not listed above I plan to venture out, see, and maybe even walk.