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Urban Renewal photograph collection

Identifier: 1989_026-PA

This collection includes mostly black and white photographs and negatives with some color prints and accompanying documents and printed material, dating from approximately 1960 to 1975. The photographs and negatives show buildings, lots, and streets and are mostly in order by block and parcel (lot number), and some are identified by address or building name. Unidentified photographs are also included. Some photographs are organized in groups like “people,” “design competition,” “groundbreakings,” “blight,” and “UofL”, etc. The accompanying files include redevelopment plans, maps of downtown development, urban renewal reports, clipping files, etc. A database of most of the small prints (3941 total) in this collection has been created.

The Louisville Metro Archives holds an acquisition ledger for all urban renewal projects that lists the property by project, block and parcel, address, owner, price paid and the deed book and page number that corresponds to the photographs in this collection.


  • circa 1960-1974


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to researchers.


12 linear feet (39 boxes, 1 binder)

Biographical / Historical

The Urban Renewal Commission planned and oversaw the redevelopment of downtown Louisville with the mission to improve the city by stopping blight and decay, as well as clear room for the interstate highway I-65. The Economic Development Department of the Urban Renewal Commission documented the locations of buildings set for demolition by block and parcel (lot number). The appraisers who photographed worked under the supervision of Fred Zipp.

The idea of “urban renewal” was popular in cities across America in the 1950s and 1960s after the passing of the 1949 American Housing Act that created a federal program to fund the demolition of decaying neighborhoods, referred to as “slums,” and the construction of new public housing. In addition, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 sanctioned an elaborate network of interstate highways to connect cities across the country, which added to the demolition of urban neighborhoods. While the goal of these acts were to revitalize American cities, create a decent home for every family, improve transportation, and accommodate suburban sprawl, the results were often very different. In Louisville, Urban Renewal destroyed scores of historic buildings and pushed predominantly Black families from their homes and businesses, intensified housing shortages, and increased segregation by pushing entire communities of Black citizens away from downtown and westward, further away from the white neighborhoods on the East end of town.

Physical Location

PA Stacks 2A-2 thru 6, 2B-3


There is at least one misnumbering of images in the database which is also reflected in the numbering of the prints.

One mistake occurs at 89_26_3229 when the next number is 89_26_3300 (it should be 89_26_3230). Therefore the prints are numbered from 1 to 4245 when there are really only 3941 prints

Urban Renewal Photograph Collection
Elizabeth E. Reilly
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections Repository

Ekstrom Library, Lower Level Room 17
Louisville KY 40292
502 852-6752