Shelby Park

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This formal 16-acre park was named for Kentucky’s first governor, Isaac Shelby.

In the early 1900’s, the neighborhood that would eventually contain Shelby Park was a heavily working class neighborhood. Mayor Paul Barth noted the large need for a park in the area and in order to begin the development of a park, he personally purchased 11.4 acres in 1907 until the Board of Parks Commissioners could purchase the land. The Board of Parks Commissioners did eventually purchase the land, and also received donations of land, bringing the total acreage of the park to 16 acres.

The park was named for the first governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. It was designed in by the Olmsted Firm in 1907 and is the only park in Louisville designed in conjunction with a Carnegie library. The other important feature is that the park was designed when the need for areas for sport and recreation were paramount in park design, moving away from quiet contemplation and reflection.

By 1910 the park became incredibly popular. It eventually was the site of large track and tennis meets, sometimes to crows of up to a thousand spectators. It included hard sand croquet courts, tennis courts, separate gymnasiums for men and women, gymnastic apparatus, a pole vaulting area, and some basketball courts. The War Recreation Board, replacing a smaller wadding pool, installed a large pool in the park in 1918 which stayed until the 2008.

Today the park enjoys a splash pad, playground, basketball, and iconic bandstand.

Key Features & Amenities

  • Ballfield
  • Basketball
  • Community Center
  • Picnic Shelter
  • Picnic Tables
  • Playground
  • Restrooms
  • Tennis
  • Walking Path

Park Details

600 E Oak Street, 40203
(Oak St. east of Jackson St. and Clay Street)
16 acres
Facility Reservations
6 am – 11 pm
Fred Facts
Totaling 1200 acres, the parks were designed to offer a complete range of park experiences as defined by Olmsted, from civic gatherings and social interactions to organized athletics and personal recreation.


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