If you build it, they will come. You can say this about so many places in Louisville:
When it was announced that the Big Four Bridge was going to be re-opened as a pedestrian bridge, Kentucky moved quickly, built their side of the bridge, and completed it to the other side of the river. And for a year, Kentuckians waited and waited for Indiana to finish their end. We would walk the bridge to the edge of the river on the Indiana side and then turn around and walk back. We would peer over the Indiana gate with longing and wonder, “What is on the other side?”
In June, the bridge opened and people flocked to Jeffersonville, Indiana. They weren’t driving, but they walked, biked, strollered and sauntered their way across. My interns (aka my children) and I ventured over there one Thursday afternoon, and there was a steady stream of pedestrian traffic headed to Jeffersonville. While we were walking across the bridge, I heard many people say, “Now what city is this that we are going to?” or “Is this New Albany?”
We spent over two hours there, just walking all over Historic Jeffersonville and eating, and eating and eating.
Coincidentally, we ran into two families from our school there, all doing the same thing we were — checking out Jeffersonville on foot. Here is a map that shows all the businesses in Historic Jeffersonville.
This is where we actually walked (please excuse rudimentary highlighting):
There is a green space being built at the foot of the ramp (to the tune of $3 million) that is currently under construction –the Big Four Station is what it’s called. It will include a covered playground, fountain, stage, pavilion and plenty of green space.
After you exit the ramp at the corner of Pearl St. and Chestnut St., there is a bed & breakfast, The Old Bridge Inn, and an ice cream shop, Pearl Street Treats (brilliant placement, too bad I didn’t think of that).
Walk a block into the main street in town, which is Spring Street, and you will find café, hair salon, pottery place, art gallery and so much more.
Turn and look north on Spring Street and you will see a hub of activity centered around one store. This is the home of the 123 year old Schimpff’s Confectionery and Candy Museum, where you can watch the candy makers in the window and then take a tour of their museum. Also inside is a lunchroom and, of course, candy for purchase. The owners were passing out a fresh batch of red hots served warm, freshly made chocolates. I promise, I’m going to do an entire story on Schimpff’s in the near future. It is a delight.
On the corner of Chestnut and Spring is the Charles R. Niehaus Courtyard and Glossbrenner Garden, one of my favorite spaces in all of Jeffersonville. It is a quiet repose tucked away off Spring Street. All around this town are beautiful historic buildings, most of them over a century old. Some are businesses and others are still private homes.
Public art abounds here in Jeffersonville and it is everywhere. There is a huge movement for more public art, such as artist-designed park benches, that a compilation of government and non-profit agencies have joined to form the group City Canvas, that is guiding the process. Stay tuned for more great creativity out of this group all for the public to enjoy.
This bridge ramp runs right through the middle of Historic Jeffersonville. You can deduce why it took longer for this part of the bridge/ramp to be completed. You are walking through a neighborhood, rich in history. It is much harder to build a public space here than at Waterfront Park in Kentucky. There is much to learn about this area, and walking tours are very popular in Jeffersonville now with this newly “discovered” river town.
We headed back over the river and through the woods, or wait, through Waterfront Park, back to Louisville.
This is a great way to spend an afternoon. Park on the Louisville side, walk the bridge, spend the afternoon in Jeffersonville (or “another country” as my son calls it) and walk back home. It definitely makes you feel like you are not in Louisville anymore. Especially since you can walk the entire trip. Where else in town can you do that?
There are tons of events in Jeffersonville, some during the day, some at night. Here is a great website to learn more: www.jeffmainstreet.org.
As for me I definitely would love to take a walking tour and learn the stories behind most of these buildings, as they definitely have a story to tell.