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    Branden Klayko loved alleys. By the time the urbanist died of leukemia in June, the 33-year-old had written at least 12 articles about them for his popular blog, Broken Sidewalk, which covered urban design and development in Louisville. He looked at “urban canyons,” alleys nestled between high buildings, with a keen architect’s eye. “These alleys are likely to be very calm with the sounds of automobile traffic fading away onto the main street. There’s no need for sidewalks here, since the cramped quarters force traffic to move slowly and give automatic right of way to the pedestrian,” he wrote in one post. 

    “Imagine, though, if we started to utilize our alleys as more than just a place to store the dumpster or make deliveries,” Klayko wrote. “What if they could become a second city grid full of cafes and pubs and secret hidden gems? You would have to explore the city fabric to know it, and you would be held in the arms of the city’s architecture the entire way.”

    It’s appropriate, then, that an unnamed Butchertown alley — just south of Franklin Street, running from North Hancock Street to North Wenzel Street — is set to be named Branden Klayko Alley. It isn’t exactly an urban canyon. Part cobbles, part cracked pavement, it sneaks across streets and behind houses, corralled not by high-rises but by garage doors, backyard fences, gravel parking lots — things that are so mundane they are intimate, unbeautiful places where beautiful things happen, where children ride tricycles and folks walk their dogs and sip coffee on back balconies. 

    As urban planner Anthony Mattingly wrote in an application letter to get the name of the alley changed: “Through his writing and advocacy work, it is clear that Branden loved the entire city, but he particularly loved Butchertown, where he and his wife Melissa had just accepted an offer on a condo space on East Washington Street.” Branden Klayko Alley will be right at home, then, not held in the arms of the city’s architecture, but part of them.

    This originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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    About Dylon Jones

    Dylon Jones is a senior editor at Louisville Magazine.

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