Iroquois Park Neighborhoods

Louisville has so much to offer.

Last weekend, we spent an afternoon and the next morning wandering around neighborhoods in the Iroquois Park area.  We were somewhat familiar with Southside Drive and the area around the Kingston Park Apartments (which used to be Americana Apartments), because in 2001, our family helped sponsor four “lost boys” from Sudan who were resettled to this area of Louisville.  We took them on their first grocery shopping experience at ValuMarket and participated in the Peace Walk which was held in Iroquois Park. As we were walking, one of the guys said to me, “We walked for a whole month once.  Some of our friends were eaten by crocodiles.”  Suddenly the hills of Iroquois Park seemed a little less challenging.

Nine years later, I realize the hills of the surrounding neighborhoods are repositories of hidden treasures. Perched on the crest of one of these hills, Hazelwood ICF/MR Facility serves a population of primarily mentally retarded adults. Another hill (Kenwood Hill) holds the Little Loomhouse.  Unfortunately it was closed, but we still walked around and peeked in the windows of the three cottages.  The Esta cabin, first constructed in the 1860s, was home to the developer of the trolley system that connected Louisville’s South End to downtown.  It was also the first place where the Hill sisters’ Happy Birthday song was sung!  Inside the cabins, we could see colorful weavings, and what looked to be a loom workshop. We’ll definitely come back.

Do you know me well enough yet to be wondering where the reference to food is? Never fear. One of the things I love and appreciate most about my husband (candidate for mayor of this fine city) is that he seems to know where he’s going wherever he is.  He has this innate sense of direction…and understanding of place.  (In this case, it could be because he went to church at First Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Manslick Road for the first 18 years of his life, but he has it everywhere we go.)  He sniffed out some delicious cuban sandwiches and empanadas at Miami Don Food & Bakery.  While ordering, he struck up a conversation with an Uruguayan who said he travels from his home in Fern Creek for this food!

After a brief interlude at Ken Bowl (without the lane bumpers, which was a bit traumatic for our youngest who just missed the cut-off age of six), we went around the corner to a Vietnamese French bakery, DaLat’s Gateaux and Cafe for dessert.  I will not elaborate (petit fores, cashew clusters, cookies, four-star ho-hos, breads), for you must go try it out yourself!

The next morning, we needed some coffee before tackling the highest hill in Louisville.  Sister Bean’s Coffee House provided us with not only caffeinated nourishment (consumed by adults only), but sitting on the table by the screen fire was a large binder of editorials written by seventh graders at Johnson Traditional Middle School.  I skimmed a couple, but the one that stood out the most to me was by a girl who was pleading with her parents to pay attention to her. As Stites was bouncing in circles around me, touching everything in sight while I sat entranced by these editorials, I realized I should take her message to heart.

So with a hug for each kid, we headed to the culminating event of our neighborhood tour, the overlook at the top of Iroquois Park.  For some reason, the access road was closed for the season, so Harcourt and Eli, with an adventurous spirit, headed straight up the hill, ignoring (until becoming entangled in them) sticker bushes and other treacherous limbs.  Stites was already at the top, and Tyler and I took the switch-back path.  The view of our proud city was definitely worth the short climb.  Stunning. The lookout pavilion was another story. “Rededicated in 1987,” this site, one of three flagship Louisville Parks designed by Olmsted (along with Cherokee and Shawnee), appears to have received little attention since then.  Graffiti, crumbling walls, litter and few plantings grace the setting which showcases our city like nowhere else in Louisville.  The playground at the base of the park was packed.  Why are resources not being directed to protect and preserve this beautiful overlook as well?  Well over 100 years ago, our city leaders invested in this spectacular site – we need to demonstrate the same commitment to stewardship of our local community assets today.

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4 Comments

Filed under Exploring Louisville Neighborhoods

4 responses to “Iroquois Park Neighborhoods

  1. Cheryl Mahan

    I was very upset after a recent visit to the overlook at Iroquois Park with Peyton. I could not believe how un-kept the lookout pavillion was. I emailed the current mayor about my concerns, and never received a response.

  2. So on the way to a park named for the Iroquois, you all run into a Uruguayan from Fern Creek that goes to a deli named for Miami on a road named after a Saint. Neat.

  3. Thanks the author for article. The main thing do not forget about users, and continue in the same spirit.

  4. I grew up off New Cut road, and Iroquois Park was always “the park” to me. As in, “Let’s go to the park Saturday” or “they’re doing fireworks in the park this weekend” or, more commonly, “The park’s a mess right now.” Too long, the park’s been ignored. We were out there last year and the amount of garbage and storm debris was just dreadful. I’m planning to go to the movie there next week; I hope things are looking a bit nicer now.

    I remember when you could drive to the top of the lookout; sometimes there’d be a long, slow line of cars reaching to the summit, as people waited to get a few minutes looking over Louisville at sunset. It was always such a beautiful sight. I haven’t been up there in ages, now, because the walk to the top is just too much for my asthmatic son and my arthritic mother.

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