CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF connecting nature and neighborhood while strengthening the community’s well-being.
“The Olmsted Parks are precious common ground where we can build social ties or refresh and renew our private selves. Altogether, the system has helped to define the city’s form, preserve the rich native landscape and improve property values. It is a daily mecca for recreation and relaxation.”– Preface to 1990 Master Plan
Over 130 years ago, the City of Louisville foresaw the need to escape from the city into nature, enlisting the help of Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of Landscape Architecture famed for creating Central Park in New York, to build a park system in Louisville.
After nearly a century of use, these parks were well-worn, and in some cases, completely devastated by natural disasters (like the 1974 tornado). By 1989, Louisville’s Olmsted-designed parks were in desperate need for repair.
Formed out of the Friends of the Olmsted Parks, a group of Louisville residents who advocated for the preservation of Louisville’s historic Olmsted Park system – one of only four remaining Olmsted-designed park systems in the world – Olmsted Parks Conservancy was created in September 1989. Working hand-in-hand with Louisville Parks and Recreation, the Conservancy sought to enhance, restore, and protect Louisville’s 17 historic Olmsted Parks and 6 Parkways, which contain over 2,300 acres of beautiful parkland, cover 7% of Louisville, and represent 19% of the city’s parklands.
Three decades later Olmsted Parks Conservancy continues to pursue the mission to enhance, restore and protect our Olmsted Parks and Parkways, investing more than $40 million into our historic parks, because we know that great parks can transform entire communities, drive economic activity and improve health outcomes.
Louisville’s historic Olmsted flagship and neighborhood parks have been restored and enhanced to serve as important cornerstones for local communities and are a major amenity to the 38.5% underserved low-income families within a half mile from an Olmsted Park who make less than $25,000 annually.
But our work isn’t done.
While Louisville’s Olmsted Parks have been drastically improved in our 30-year history, the needs of our parks are always constant. It’s our members and volunteers who help us keep exotic plants at bay to make room for native plants, plant meadows for important pollinators, maintain park infrastructure, provide vital community programming, and improve amenities to serve the needs of park visitors.