Monday, April 7, 2008

Documenting Louisville, One Building at a Time...

Louisville was hit by urban renewal even harder than Dayton, with entire sections of the city cleared away. Commercial encroachment cleared out a lot, too.

As a result there are no close-in residential neighborhoods akin to Oregon or Over The Rhine.
However, I came across this collection cite at the catalogue of the UofL library photographic archives.

Collection : Louisville urban renewal project photographs
Date/Extent :
1963; 345 items, 9 linear ft.

Description : These original prints and negatives were taken by Charles Byrne for the Louisville urban renewal project. The photographs served as documentation of areas that were to be razed or otherwise developed.In many cases, the photographs are the only existing representations of these buildings.

The photographs include urban renewal project areas in east downtown and west downtown Louisville, from Market Street south to Broadway and Fifteenth Street east to Jackson Street, the Southwick neighborhood, and the Louisville riverfront.

The photographs document every lot and structure in over one thousand city blocks.

Quite a significant find if it’s as complete as it sounds. Every block and every building in the urban renewal areas east and west of downtown-photographed! A record of the old city at the time of urban renewal.

This could be a gold mine for researchers into commercial and residential vernacular architecture, as well as local history buffs.


Dayton had its urban renewal era too, but there is no photographic documentation of the areas removed aside from an occasional pic that crops up.

For example, the Lutzenberger Collection provides intermittent pix of structures in the urban renewal areas.
For systematic coverage of urban renewal areas akin to what was done in Louisville, for the clearance areas in South Park, Oregon, and the Haymarket, there’s nary a photo.

What these neighborhoods actually looked like is lost to us.


A Dayton Documentation Project?


Now a new wave of clearance is hitting Dayton, and once again there is no documentation of what is being
lost.

Since the older neighborhoods of Dayton outside the historic districts are threatened with piecemeal demolition, maybe a project could be set up to photograph these areas before they are torn down.


Dayton’s modern-day zones of destruction could be documented structure by structure, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, as a sort of “virtual historic preservation”, akin to the HABS/HAER/HALS program, but perhaps in more detail, ensuring the pending demolitions get documented.

This is not as out-there as it sounds, as there have been neighborhood documentations in the past, example being the documentation via HABS/HAER of Hanchett Residence Park, a bungalow neighborhood in San Jose, using a mix of drawings and pix:





The images could be put online with supplemental information as sort of a virtual guided tour to the neighborhoods, akin to what some of the historic districts have done.

The neighborhood to start with would be Twin Towers, though at the rate of demolition I am thinking "Findlay" would also be a good candidate.

2 comments:

kevin said...

There has to be photos taken at the time of property appraisal, no matter who's buying it. That's why I can't understand places like Burns/Jackson, Haymarket, Robert Blvd. and Edgemont don't have old property documented somewhere on file.

Jeffrey said...

They probaby threw it all out during spring cleaning one year.