Saturday, September 02, 2006
The Louisville Follies
Note: This post won't be of much interest to anyone except me, but oh well.

I love my hometown, I really do. Hell, I gave up living in "The Entertainment Capital of the World" to come back. But sometimes the old white men who run this town can be pretty fucking stupid. Let me give you a few examples...

In the 1970s, in an effort to revitalize the downtown area, city planners closed the former heart of the retail district to vehicular traffic and built a pedestrian mall. Due to construction delays, a lot of the businesses that opened early were already closed down by the time the mall was completed, leaving empty storefronts, a few dying holdovers from better days, and a seemingly endless string of ugly wig shops. I remember going down there as a kid and thinking "Who is buying all of these wigs?" I came to the conclusion that downtown pollution caused baldness. A lot of people must have come to similar conclusions, because by the early eighties the pedestrian mall (and almost every non-wig business) was gone.

There were other mistakes, but the most ridiculous one involved The Louisville Falls Fountain. Any Louisville native reading this is either laughing or shuddering in horror at the very mention of our city's watery albatross.

In August of 1988, I joined thousands of fellow Louisvillians as we gathered downtown, on a bridge closed for the occasion, to witness the debut of the fountain. Beer was consumed, state fair-style food was sold by temporary vendors, and a good time was had by all. Then they unveiled the fountain. You could have scooped up the collective disappointment with a snow shovel. As soon as everyone saw the unsightly and unimpressive floating joke, the bridge was evacuated in depressed silence.

For months, the media had been hyping the arrival of the Louisville Falls Fountain. One city leader said "It will become a tourist attraction, much like the Arch in St. Louis." Okay, there's a picture at the top of this post featuring the fountain against a backdrop of the Louisville skyline. Does it remind you in ANY WAY of the St. Louis Arch? The St. Louis Arch is "The Gateway to the West". The Louisville Falls Fountain was "The Gateway to Someone's Pontoon Boat".

Also, the water from the fountain was supposed to form a fleur-de-lis, which is the official logo of the city of Louisville. Kindly look at the above photo once again. Does that resemble a fleur-de-lis? No, it looks more like a fleur-de-open-fire-hydrant.

Oh, did I mention that the fountain, donated to the city by now-dead rich folks, rarely worked properly and cost the taxpayers a fortune in upkeep? Finally, in 1998, after ten years of sitting near our riverfront, serving as a stark reminder of our town's second-class status, the Louisville Falls Fountain stopped working altogether. Rather than spend an estimated $500,000 to fix something everyone in the area despised, our mayor decided to shitcan it. It was dismantled and sold for scrap. There was much rejoicing.


Blogger n.v. said...

I just love being first around here. I'll be back in the morning with something important to say. xo

Blogger FRITZ said...

i had a dream i stuck a dirty needle in my neck just to get out of work.

that said, Louisville sounds like a lot of fun!

well. no. not quite. but i'll come visit.

Yep, it's all true. What a sad chapter in our city's history. A perfect example of good intentions and all that crap.

But hey, I did notice that they did a good job cleaning up the waterfront sometime in the late 90s. Last time I was home, I went downtown and was pleasantly surprised. So it's not all bad. I miss home too, Todd. I envy you, my friend.

Blogger tlsd said...

fleur-de-open-fire-hydrant... *snigger*

oh thank you... hahah thank you hahahaha

Blogger Ćœbermilf said...

Chicago did that to State Street (that Great Street of song) around the same time. It became "State Street Mall" and almost killed the central shopping district of one of the country's largest cities. Oddly, wig shops sprung up there, too; and weird second-class no-name electronics stores. I wonder if they're like fungus or mold that grow when stagnancy occurs?

By the time they fixed their blunder in the late 1980's, Michigan Avenue had replaced State Street as the primo shopping area.

By the way, our ugly, overpriced public art looks like this

Actually I laughed out loud at this post, Toddles.

Hey, have you considered submitting stuff to your local weekly or alternative press?

You could write a Native Son type piece.

Blogger Knitty Kitty said...

haha, like the monorail in the simpsons.

Blogger Cincysundevil said...

Oh yeah ... well at least Louisville is a 2nd rate city; Dayton was basically a Third World nation unto itself. The only thing we needed was a military coup which would've made things much more interesting.

Blogger yournamehere said...

that was important because it came from you.

Louisville is fun. They just fuck shit up sometimes.

overall, with the exception of a few familiar haunts closing (which I'm too old for anyway) the city is much improved.

you're welcome.

pedestrian malls were all the rage at one time and almost none exist today, unless they are on a waterfront of some kind. It's nice to know Chicago screws up too.

I was in the inner-city of Chicago several years ago for Habitat for Humanity. Every other shop was a "weird second-class no-name electronics store".

I may have to do that, as long as it doesn't require research. Ha.

Conan O'Brien actually wrote that episode. By the time it aired, he was already a talk show host.

how come you weren't Daytonsundevil? Ha.
I even think Louisville has more to offer me personally than Cincinnati does. Cincy has a better riverfront and pro sports, but not the type of neighborhoods that make Louisville interesting.

Blogger MMM said...


pedestrian malls in downtown..where were you yesterday evening when i needed you?

i was talking about how alot of cities did this and it killed their downtowns. i remember this happened in my grandparents town when i was a kid.

so, anyway, last night i am having dinner with a friend,we are talking about living downtown versus living in the burbs and i bring up the stupidity of pedestrian malls.

my god, i think my dinner partner thought i was speaking in tongues. she just stared at me...huh???

Blogger Brookelina said...

The Trevi Fountain in Rome didn't work for years, but that didn't stop people from visiting and throwing in their pennies. Stupid people.

Blogger Claudia said...


A booyakasha!
A booya.

Blogger myboyfriendiscrazy said...

I'm guessing you started loving Louisville after the fountain was dismantled?

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