For those who have never had the pleasure of living in a city with a vibrant urban parks system, it’s hard to imagine the many uses and benefits that urban parks offer to downtown workers, residents, and visitors. Louisville Waterfront Park is the front door to Kentucky, a playground for people of all ages, and a gathering place for folks from all over the community. It offers a grand view of the river, space for concerts and festivals, quiet places to read a book, picnic spaces for your family and friends with a total of 85 acres.
The park contains broad, open spaces appropriate for large events, as well as smaller spaces intended for family gatherings or enjoying the Ohio River in a secluded setting. The centerpiece is the Great Lawn, the park’s most distinctive open space. Touching the Ohio and rising gradually over its 14 acres, it ends at Witherspoon Street, connecting the river to the city.
Directly up River Road is a distinctly different take on what a waterfront park can be with a ribbon of medium to small spaces, suitable for picnics, weddings, parties, and events of moderate size. In contrast to the waterfront park it’s possible to feel nature without a reminder that the city is right over your shoulder; home to Tumbleweed Southwest Grill and the Adventure Playground.
The third part of the park which completes the original vision laid out in the Waterfront Master Plan. It includes the Promenade along the river, the Swing Garden, walking paths, picnic areas, parking and restrooms, and the Lincoln Memorial, which commemorates Abraham Lincoln’s lifelong Kentucky connections.
The most anticipated feature is the Big 4 Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge, which will serve as a connection between Louisville to Southern Indiana.
To quote from the Waterfront Master plan: “In broad philosophic strokes, the Master Plan seeks to pull into the 21st century the cultural waterfront heritage of the 18th and 19th centuries, to interpret and restore the ecology of the river as it was before western civilization, and to extend downtown Louisville to the river–and conversely, magnify the presence of the river and extend the river into downtown. In so doing the Waterfront can become a vessel for public activities, with the natural systems of the Ohio River Valley generating its structure and power. Finally, it is the spirit of the people who will fill this space that adds the most necessary dynamic, that of the natural exuberance of human life.”
The Louisville Waterfront Park offers a full array of events throughout the year, which also helps the local businesses in the vicinity. On August 31 is back on the Big Four Lawn. Sarah Jaffee will be performing around 9:00 p.m. Opening the concert at 6:00 p.m. is Katie Herzig, followed by the Ha Ha Tonka at 7:30 p.m. The concert is free and all of the gates open around 5:00 p.m. at 401 River Road or 231 Witherspoon.