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Implanting A Lasting Impression Of Louisville’s Downtown Ornate Beauty And Expansiveness
West Main Street in the heart of Old Louisville is the center of Louisville’s cultural district which is home to the second largest steel mill in the United States.
More than 100 years ago, wrought iron made it possible to create beautiful decorative objects that were too expensive to carve out of stone. The bricks on the sidewalk in front of the columns are placed sideways and are ironed so that the iron buildings can be easily identified. To ensure that you are moving with magnets that usually stick to buildings that have metal parts. Ironwood trees grow in front of iron buildings surrounded by replicas of real coal pits. Three trees are planted together to show that the house is built. Iron walking sticks and tree rings provide clues to the early use of nearby buildings.
West Main Street has more examples of 19th-century steel architecture than anywhere else in America except New York’s SoHo. In front of the Hart Block, a one-story building that was built in 1884 on the original site are images of metalwork being tied together. The original Victorian construction of this pre-fab allows for large windows and great height. The small St Charles Hotel, built before 1832 is the oldest hotel here. Three brick buildings came next to each other and lined the streets during the Civil War.
Fort Nelson, a late 1700s settlement once stood between 6th and 8th streets on Main before being destroyed by fire and storm more than a century ago. The site was the terminus of the Wilderness Trail, the first route west from Virginia across the Appalachian Mountains through the Cumberland Gap, and the first settlement that would become Louisville.
Northwest of 7th and Main is a treasure trove, filled with antiques and artifacts from nearby homes. One of the first street renovations that contributed to its restoration was the ‘Stairways’ building of the Main Street Association Visitor and Information Center. The street that still retains its 19th century appearance is the 100 block whose architectural features are the same as they were in the mid 1800’s. Both sides of the building are very interesting. At the end of the first street you will see a beautiful Renaissance Revival house built in 1852 with six unique rooms. The corner of Second Street is the site of the original Galt House Hotel which burned to the ground in 1865. The Galt House Hotel Complex located at Fourth and Main Streets includes offices, apartments, retail, restaurants and the largest convention center in the city. office twin with mysterious rotating searchlights. The Second Street Bridge, also known as the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, which is a mile to Indiana, has an entrance in 1929 by Paul Gret, the architect of Cincinnati’s Union Station.
The 40-story glass, steel and industrial skyscraper designed by Harrison and Abromovitz of New York in 1972 is the so-called National City Tower. The first national bank was established here before being purchased by the National City Bank, First National Bank of Louisville. Naturalist John Audubon stayed at this place 200 years ago when he stayed at the Indian Queen Hostelry.
Here is the Science Center/ IMAXX theater a 19th century museum full of science galleries and exhibits such as the tomb of the Egyptian women, the Foucault pendulum, and many interesting exhibits especially for children. Also of interest are exhibits exploring space and the human body. Built of limestone and cast iron for use as a dry goods store in 1878, it is a great example of flexible reuse. Cork Marcheschi’s geometric kinetic painting on the front creates a stunning street market day or night – when the sky is dark, electronic sensors turn on its lights. Fantastic worlds are preserved on the three pillars of entertainment, fantasy and science.
Energy, one of the oldest companies in the US dating back to 1838 and the city’s most powerful business is headquartered at One Corporate Plaza at Third and Main Street. Place Montpellier a few steps from the main park facing the Ohio River will lead you to the statue of the founder of Louisville, George Rogers Clark standing on the square where you will learn the secrets of the city’s beginnings. By following the blue bricks you follow the course of the Ohio River. A few steps after you exit Waterfront Park is the river elevator.
Humana’s latest flagship building built in 1985 has earned international recognition as a Time magazine choice for the past 20 years. A stunning design by talented architect Michael Graves, it pays homage to its River City location with water feature wall fountains and steel railings in the lobby. Inside the lobby you are welcomed by a combination of classical art and impressive architecture. The finished façades of different styles complement and complement the neighboring short buildings.
Just a few yards away is the American Life and Accident Building at Riverfront Plaza. This unique building designed by Mies Van der Kohe and completed in 1973 is called the Rusty Building after its Cor-Ten steel cladding has rusted to a beautiful bronze color.
Many interesting styles distinguish Main Street: Greek Revival [columns, pilasters, heavy cornices] at the Actors Theatre, Italy [decorative cast-iron facades and villa-type character] at the Hart Block Building; Richardsonian Romanesque [rounded archways and windows, limestone and terra cotta construction] at the Doe-Anderson Building; Countries [sleek, concrete, glass and steel] at National City Tower is Post-Modern [new colors, stone and symbolic ties to environmental features] at the Humana Building.
All this I went through and walked in the path that famous feet have trodden. Such famous footprints were those of Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, US Grant, Thomas Edison, Charles Dickens, John James Audubon, DW Griffith, Muhammad Ali, Pee Wee Reese, Mary Anderson and many others.
A 15-story concrete wall parallel to Main Street with gates so doors can be installed to block the wall on 2nd through 8th streets is a grim reminder of the 1937 flood that the resurgence was built to prevent. Then most of the town was flooded by the waters of the Ohio River. But the Main Street shopkeepers were found behind the ‘City Island’ and were saved.
The preservation of historic beauty and glory of Louisville is reflected in the center of the city and moved to my hostel. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption at Fifth Street is a Gothic Revival building built between 1849 and 1852 and restored between 1985 and 1994. The Jefferson County Courthouse on Jefferson Street is a Greek Revival landmark designed by Gideon Shyrock and built in 1835 for the purpose of . State attractions in Louisville. The 35-story Aegean Center on Market Street that dominates the Louisville skyline and courts Kentucky’s tallest building has an impressive dome on top of the 1992 design by New York architect John Burger. At the bottom of Fourth Street which was our home for six weeks is a large building by SPALDING UNIVERSITY. This Italianate revival house built around 1871 is one of the few houses designed by Henry Whenston, a famous Louisville architect. The building including stained glass, Spalding University logo is kept inside the administration building as a National and Kentucky symbol.
At night I often see horse-drawn carts carrying one or two people around. What I learned later are the car tours organized in the downtown hotel following interesting routes that offer the passengers breathtaking views of history, restaurants, theaters and riverside. The trolley also runs along 4th street between the Galt House Hotel and Suites and WATERFRONT and Theater Square as well as Main and Market streets between 11th and Clay streets.
Our city tour by bus gave us a great overview of all the places. But it also gave us a broader picture of the diversity of housing by race and class. The easternmost part of the black community was far from the shopping malls found in white neighborhoods. This is an area I would like to explore further.
Our tour led us to Bardstown where we had the opportunity to see the inside of one of the most famous slave houses, the Farmington Historic Home and get up close and personal with two US presidents. Abraham Lincoln was told that he lived here as a guest of the Speeds, the original owners of the slave plantation and house there. The building is believed to have been built from a plan made by Thomas Jefferson, although it was recently disproved.
This 14-room house with well-kept lawns connected by wooden and concrete walkways and a pond at the end was part of a southern slave plantation where hemp and rice were grown. Wine is also made here. It is amazing how well the building has been restored and preserved to reflect the colors and spirit of the 1900s with the same documents including archived books and if not possible replicas of that period are brought in as proxies.
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