This is a composite photo of the facades along a one block length of Market Street in Louisville, Kentucky.
I grew up in Louisville, and while it did not boast a thriving modern architecture scene, it did have a remarkable collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth century commercial architecture. Market and Main Streets, both relatively close to the Ohio River’s transportation, were a thriving business district and the masonry and cast-iron storefronts erected there are a poignant reminder of Louisville’s once critical location along the Ohio River. Unfortunately, like other river towns, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, etc. the middle and later twentieth century and the growth of the interstate trucking system, did not serve the economies of these places well. And, of course, like many cities, Louisville’s ardor to tear down the buildings of the past was only halted by enough general economic decline that it wasn’t profitable enough to get rid of them all.
Now, in the days of renewed urban living and loft apartments, there is a renaissance for these buildings, especially in St. Louis, where the river-hugging brick warehouses and factories are being reinvented as condos and the excellent and amazing St. Louis Children’s Museum. I hope the fate of this block in Louisville has an equally good outcome. For while modernist buildings are still thrilling to look at and occasionally design, it is the continual reinvention of a building that surely holds the most interest, historic, cultural and aesthetic.