Many of Louisville’s streets were originally paved in brick or cobblestone. Today, we occasionally can find a patch of cobblestones poking through damaged asphalt, but there are very few actual brick or cobblestone streets left in the city. It seems most will either love or hate cobblestone streets. One stretch of Fourth Street near Broadway had its cobblestones ripped up several years ago allegedly after theater-going ladies couldn’t walk across them with high heels. We say some streets won’t work with cobblestones, but others are just waiting to be restored.
There are definite pros and cons with a cobbled street. They help with traffic calming as the texture keeps cars going at a manageable pace and they definitely help create a sort of historic charm, but they are expensive to set correctly and can present challenges for biking. Proper design could take care of this, however.
A properly installed and well maintained cobblestone street can be pretty smooth, too. In one Brooklyn neighborhood in New York, the city is spending over $20 million to restore and repave dilapidated cobblestone streets back to their original condition. Our cobblestone streets are still there, just inches below the asphalt surface. From major roads like Market Street to minor alleys, there are tens of thousands of stones sitting idle.
Not every street should be cobbled. Smaller neighborhood streets where traffic speeds should be less are ideal candidates. Guthrie or Armory Street downtown or Washington or Franklin Streets in Butchertown or any number of narrow streets in Louisville historic neighborhoods come to mind. Should we re-cobble Louisville? What streets are the best candidates for restoration or why should we stick with our smooth blacktop roads? Send in your opinions in the comments.