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View of Downtown Louisville during the Great Flood of 1937.
View of Downtown Louisville during the Great Flood of 1937.

We’ve all seen the horrific photos of the 1937 flood which covered nearly the entire city with frigid, polluted water and snow. Here’s a new photo I had not seen before showing a section of Downtown underwater on January 25, 1937. While the city survived the flood, the same can’t be said of its fight with the wrecking ball in the second half of the 20th century.

Leave a comment below with the location depicted here and your guess as to how many of the hundreds of buildings seen in the photo above can still be seen today. We’ll have an update next week with a modern-day view and some added history.

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Branden Klayko

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

9 COMMENTS

  1. Not sure what the middle building was but the large building on the left is the L&N building, behind that building is the freight shed where my dad worked for a while. The building on the right is the old Sears Roebuck store, which, although it was a little bit of a walk from the Fourth Street shopping, always had a great Christmas window display.

    Not old enough to remember details but I think most of the housing above Broadway in the picture ended up being destroyed by “urban renewal”. Probably not the best choice but there was a lot of VERY sub-standard housing in the ares.

  2. …and since 9th is now a wide boulevard, just about everything between l&n and the lighter colored building (now lg&E?) is gone, as is everything in that swath running north to market/main where the boulevard curves.

    with the car dealerships, parking, etc on the south side of broadway and the courthouse and other developments on the north side, i’d be surprised to know that any of the buildings facing broadway on the right side of the picture are still there.

    north of l&n is a small commercial corner and then that large grassed setback in the foreground of the public housing running along the west side of roy wilkins/9th. so all of those structures are likely gone.

  3. 10 +/-

    It is a pretty miserable area in terms of design: plenty of parking, exposure to the auto-environment, and fortification/barriers.

    Just south of the area seen in the photo, more land was recently cleared. Though from my perspective, there is no shortage of acreage available in the area, only buildings of interest.

  4. Neal – I believe the white building with the tower (in the center of the photo) is still there also. It’s been added onto, but I believe it’s the LG&E building on Broadway.

    Other than that, the courthouse and the L&N building appear to be the only buildings left.

    Truly sad to see….

  5. For the destruction of this area, Louisville was awarded the Citation for Excellence in Community Architecture by the AIA in March 1966. The AlA
    cited the Village West Downtown Urban Renewal Area as a design which
    will “transform this area into an attractive residential and business center and a pleasant place to live.”

  6. There may be a few more. There is still a house next to Chestnut St. Methodist, but it may be a later construction. Also, on the east side of 8th St., in the bottom right of the picture, there is a large retail building that may still be there (or it too could be a later construction, replacing the building in the picture). Next to/attached that building in Google street view is another storefront that seems to have been built in front of an older structure that may also be in the picture. It’s just south of the alley.

    -Eric

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