A Window into America's Past
Old Louisville History
Central Park

In 2004, Old Louisville is proud to celebrate the 125th birthday and centennial of our beloved Central Park.

Come again, what was that?  125th birthday centennial?  Okay, a little explanation is in order.  In January 1904, the City of Louisville completed the acquisition of the land and began the redesign of the park proposed by Frederick Law Olmsted.  Let's not lament that at that time the paddleboat lake was filled in, the DuPont Mansion and most of its outbuildings were razed, along with the art museum.  The result was an elegant secluded park, a mid-city oasis, with public gymnasiums, wading pool, tennis courts and picnic shelters.  (We might lament that many of those public improvements have since been put to other less public uses.)  Still, with all of the hullabaloo, we shouldn't forget the story of the park a generation in time before it transferred title to the City of Louisville.  That time between the late 1870s and 1904 were arguably its golden years, certainly its most interesting.  Read the full (hi)story here.

Central Park, the name:  Although it was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York's more famous Central Park, Louisville's version has little else to do with New York's.  The park was certainly not centrally located in its early years, being about a mile south of the city limits. The name Central Park is almost certainly derived from DuPont's Central Street Railway line, originally mule-drawn, that brought people from the center of town to the park land, and thus made a profit for Mssrs. DuPont.  Also, nearby in the early days was the "Central Plank Road" turnpike (now Third Street).  It's not likely that the park was named for this road, but it may be possible that the Central Railway line name may have been influenced by its proximity.

History of Central Park

Plans of Central Park, 1884, 1901 &  present

Views of Central Park before 1904

Postcard Views of Central Park 1905-1920

Central Park Centennial Events, 2004:

May through October
First Sunday Concerts in Central Park
Free, 2-4pm at the C. Douglas Ramey Amphitheater

First Weekend in June….
Join Us for the Central Park Centennial Kick Off Celebrations!
Contact the Old Louisville Information Center for more information: 635-5244

June 2-6
Tennis Tournament in the Park

June 4

7PM Wine and Cheese Celebration
Haskins Hall, Conrad-Caldwell House
Everyone invited!

June 5

Neighborhood Picnic from 3-5 PM
Bring a picnic dinner to the park and join your neighbors for a relaxing afternoon. 
(Picnic Table Decorating Contest, too!)

June 6

Ice Cream Social & Sunday Summer Concert Series
2-5 PM in Central Park.  Rob Nickerson in concert 2-4pm
Ice Cream compliments of Mary Martin, Michael Mawood, and the Old Louisville Information Center

July 10-11
Old Louisville Hidden Treasures Garden Tour
This year featuring the gardens around Central Park. Your chance to take a peek into nine of the beautiful gardens behind those magnificent mansions.  10am-5pm each day, $10 in advance or $12 day of tour. Start at the corner of St. James and Magnolia across from
Contact the Information Center for your early bird discount tickets at 502.635.5244, or order ON LINE 

October 16
Dinners for Central Park
A series of dinner parties in the neighborhood  to benefit the Friends of Central Park. They will be held in the elegantly restored mansions around Central Park in Old Louisville. Some will be black tie, and others more casual. Those interested in participating, either as hosts or guests, should call the Old Louisville Information Center at 635-5244.

**December 4-5 (Saturday-Sunday)
Old Louisville Holiday House Tour
This year, Around Central Park will be the theme.  Take a look inside eight of Old Louisville's finest homes decorated for the holidays.  Enjoy a "Taste of Old Louisville."  $15 advance purchase, $20 on the days of the tour.   MORE Information
Tours 12:00 noon until 6:00 P.M. both days  

More information and tickets for the Garden Tour, Victorian Christmas House Tour, etc. can be obtained from the Old Louisville Information Center


Other 2004 Old Louisville Events



Other Central Park Links:

The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival

Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy

The DuPont Family heritage and history

Cumberland Falls
A gift to the people of Kentucky and the nation by Coleman DuPont, who grew up on the Central Park DuPont estate


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Start Page   History of Central Park
Central Park Plans 1884, 1901, 1990s

Views of Central Park before 1904
Postcard Views of Central Park 1905-1920


Old Louisville Guide Home Page
Old Louisville National Historic District

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