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    I felt a little silly, but I did it — I took a trolley bus tour of my own hometown, the place I’ve lived in for almost two decades straight, to try to learn something new.

    Trolley de ‘Ville seemed, to me, one of the more accesible Louisville tours. Because so many others center around bourbon, or historic Old Louisville, this trolley tour proved to be more broad and not too expensive; $23 got me a 75 minute tour, and the ticket stub gets you discounts on Museum Row and a few downtown restaurants.

    The tour highlights staples like the Belle of Louisville and Museum Row; often overlooked spots like Glassworks and the Main Library; towering metro buildings including City Hall and the Jefferson County Courthouse; the picturesque St. James Court, Old Louisville and Churchill Downs; as well 21C Papa John's Stadium, U of L, and 4th Street Live!

    When I say "highlights," this means these places were locations our tour guide explicitly mentioned. There were no stops on the tour except for Churchill Downs. Apparently, the tracks were supposed to be the most exciting attraction. The tourists were able to spend a few minutes stretching their legs and taking pictures.

    What most surprised me at Churchill Downs was how much time our tour guide, Drew, spent sharing facts about horses. I began to get the impression that horse racing was all Louisville was about. Of course, I know there is a lot more. But after listening to at least 10 minutes of horse trivia, I was questioning that belief.

    Drew started our tour by teaching the bus how to pronounce Louisville.

    “Stick two fingers in your mouth to say it,” he instructed everyone.

    The tourists, who were all older than me by at least 30 years, followed his guidance and tried their best. It didn’t go that well. There were people on the bus from Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and, most surprising, New Zealand.

    There was a lot of history to learn on this tour, and it was because of this that I had a weird realization — I never learned Louisville history in school. I attended public schools in Louisville for elementary, middle and high school, and not once can I recall any lessons on the history of our city.

    This got me thinking about the bigger issue, which is that I think learning about our history at a young age would maybe increase engagement in our city, and really inspire the students who live here. Louisville has an interesting history, I learned, one that was very involved with the rest of the world during its inception. There’s no harm in giving students at least a taste of Louisville’s history in a second grade social studies class.

    I also wish more of Louisville’s present could be talked about on this tour. Of course, the past is interesting, but this city is one that is moving forward, fast. And there’s also so many places we don’t and can’t get to on the tour that could show people this: the Highlands, Portland and the West End, Nulu, all of our parks and so much more.

    Which brings me to my next point: It’s so much different to live in a city than it is to just love it. People leaving this tour can say they love Louisville, but they still have only gotten a small taste of it. I’m not discounting their proclamations — but loving the summary of something is much different than experiencing it as a whole. I’ve taken bus tours like this in places like San Francisco, San Diego and LA. I thought all of these places were amazing, but I know that it’d be so different to be living there. You begin to know the ins and outs of a city, meaning you see what makes it beautiful, but also what makes it ugly. Through these imperfections, you find ways to make it better and find others who are doing the same.

    I didn’t really think there was much I could get out of a tour of Louisville, and I'm disappointed that visitors see such a limited view of the city. But even I, the born and bred Louisvillian, did get to see the city in a new light.

    Margo Morton's picture

    About Margo Morton

    Ball State journalism and sociology student. Born and raised in Louisville and wouldn't have it any other way.

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