Our nation’s parks were not always valued as they are today. During the mid-20th century, urban parks suffered from neglect and disrepair. In the face of this epidemic, Louisville’s Olmsted Parks became overgrown, unsafe places that were misused and mistreated by the public. Eventually, the need to secure their future could no longer be ignored.
Inspired by New York’s Central Park Conservancy, Olmsted Parks Conservancy formed in 1989. Our purpose is to work closely with the city and its citizens to raise needed funds and guide revitalization of seventeen Olmsted-designed parks and six parkways—local government simply could not take this on alone. Crucial to the Conservancy’s foundation was the creation of a Master Plan for the flagship parks (Cherokee, Iroquois and Shawnee Parks). The Plan proved to be the first of many, and a catalyst for all future projects to restore, enhance and forever protect Louisville’s Olmsted Parks and Parkways.
Today, the Conservancy honors the Olmsted legacy by working with Louisville Parks and Recreation to carry out initiatives on behalf of the parks and parkways. Projects are executed for community well-being, environmental protection and historic restoration. Oftentimes fulfilling multiple objectives at once, plans enhance the parks for the physical, social, economic and cultural health of the park user and the entire community.
In the past 28 years, partnerships with local government, generous individual and corporate donors, proud volunteers and countless others have led the Conservancy to investing more than $35 million in Louisville’s vital, community assets.