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Metropolitan Sewer District photograph collection

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1981_003-PA

Content Description

Approximately 5000 8 10 inch nitrate negatives and 11,300 prints depicting work progress of the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), 1920-1940. Louisville's MSD has its origins in the Commissioners of Sewerage. The first commission was formed in 1906 following voter approval of a $4 million bond to build new sewers. Between 1906 and 1913, the Commissioners of Sewerage oversaw the construction of 54 miles of sewer lines, including the first interceptor sewers in the city and the initial stages of a concrete channel for Beargrass Creek. In 1918, Louisville voters approved a $2 million bond and a second Commissioners of Sewerage was created. It was under this commission that the photographs in the MSD collection were taken. Sewer projects were funded by federal public works programs and a series of bond issues. Projects during this time include the construction of the Southwestern Outfall, additional interceptor sewers to keep raw sewage from flowing into Beargrass Creek, relief sewer lines, additional construction of the concrete channel for Beargrass Creek, and Louisville's first sewage pump station. The second Commissioners of Sewerage issued a final report in 1942 but did not fully complete their work until 1944.The Metropolitan Sewer District was created in 1946 following an ordinance passed by Louisville’s Board of Aldermen. The images record the construction of sewer lines, drainage work, and floodwall protection projects throughout Louisville in the early twentieth century through the beginning of World War II. While the scope of the collection was to document the city’s sewer expansion, the images also capture the city’s developing neighborhoods and changing geography, downtown and the Ohio River waterfront, the impact of the 1937 flood, and the inhabitants of the city, including the men who physically built the sewer lines.

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Restrictions Apply



  • 1920-1940



5000 photographs (8 drawers, 8 boxes, 4 notebooks, 1 folder)