Near the end of East Market Street, between Shelby Street and Campbell Street, the roadway becomes noticeably wider; parallel parking is replaced by diagonal spots; and the urban edge of the historic buildings is pushed back from adjacent blocks. What seems like an anomaly today was actually a park over 100 years ago designed by the Father of Landscape Architecture and architects of Cherokee, Iroquois, and Shawnee Parks, Frederick Law Olmsted.
A community action group for Leadership Louisville called the Bingham Fellows proposed rebuilding the park originally named Kenton Place as part of a study to increase the retention of young professionals in one of Louisville’s fastest growing urban neighborhoods.
Kenton Place opened in 1892 and features landscaping with shade trees, ample seating areas, and a goldfish pond. The park was short-lived, though, as it was repurposed for a trolley line only eight years later. The new design calls for drastically improving the streetscape including adding colored pavers to the driving surface. Trees, landscaping and a walking path would be added to the median park. Curb “bumpouts” on the block’s corners would add safety to the pedestrian environment, too. (A good example of a “bumpout” can be seen on West Main Street’s street corners.)
Currently, the 800 block of East Market Street contains two parking lanes, a bike lane, and four driving lanes. Under the Kenton Place proposal, the layout would remain much the same but diagonal parking spots replaced with parallel spots. The extra space would be used to create the park in the median. Market Street already accommodates two-way traffic, but one eastbound lane would become west-bound.
The Bingham Fellows are seeking historic photos of the original Kenton Place and encourage interested citizens to visit their booth at the upcoming Nulu East Market Festival on September 26. The Kenton Place proposal was designed by Carman landscape architects of Clay Street. Members of the Bingham Fellows include Gill Holland, Mary Lea Quick, Adel Elmaghraby, Brad Davies, Chris Padgett, Donna Perry, Harriet Lair, Julie Pogue, and Terena Bell.