Transportation and City Growth Patterns

Louisville City Planning Commission major street plan map, 1929

Louisville City Planning Commission major street plan map, 1929.

Building being demolished for Interstate 65 photograph, n.d.

Building being demolished for Interstate 65 photograph, n.d.

Transportation shaped the expansion of cities in the 19th and 20th centuries. The introduction of the electric trolley car in the 19th century made the suburbs accessible. The wealthy exchanged their downtown mansions for homes in peaceful suburbia. Louisville experienced a real estate boom, with new subdivisions created in the Highlands and along Southern Parkway. Mass transit systems conveyed suburbanites downtown, while passenger trains and motor buses were popular ways to travel between cities.

The introduction of automobiles in the 20th century also influenced urban development. Automobiles eroded downtown’s central role, further emptying the city center of residents and encouraging suburban sprawl. Mass transit systems carried fewer passengers each year, while demand for parking increased. Downtown Louisville’s historic buildings were endangered by developers’ desire for parking lots and garages. The historic ambiance and cultural heritage of the city competed with convenience for suburbanites.

Decline
Transportation and City Growth Patterns