Following the Civil War, in which forces and supplies were amassed strategically at the Falls of the Ohio, Louisville began to expand along its cross streets to the South and into the Highlands to the east. The Bardstown Turnpike passed through the Highlands, crossed Beargrass Creek, and entered the city at the head of Jefferson Street. Broadway, the city’s principal east-west boulevard, intersected the turnpike in front of Cave Hill Cemetery. In 1870, Broadway was extended through the cemetery’s entrance, allowing for the development of substantial residences along East Broadway. As a principal thoroughfare to Cherokee Park, laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1891, East Broadway was later named Cherokee Road. Parcels of the contiguous land, owned by Craycroft heirs, the real estate firm of Henning & Speed, and the Slaughter, Longest, and Barringer families were platted and developed primarily during the period from 1870 to 1915. The blending of residential subdivisions that fostered churches, schools, a library, apartments, and homes for the needy, was supported by saloons, drugstores, groceries, bakeries, and hardware stores along Bardstown Road.
The triangular-shaped area was aptly named Cherokee Triangle at the beginning of its renaissance in early 1960s. Like its counterpart, the Old Louisville neighborhood south of downtown, the Triangle had come on hard times as the first residence had died or moved to greener pastures, leaving rental units behind. With the formation of the Cherokee Association (later named Cherokee Triangle Association) in 1962 and designation as a preservation district by the Louisville Landmarks Commission in 1975, the neighborhood has been stabilized and rejuvenated, while maintaining its diversity.
The Cherokee Triangle neighborhood has become a well-publicized model for the proponents of New Urbanism, a concept for suburban development that reduces the role of the automobile by placing retail, education, entertainment, and housing along gridded streets within walking distances. While New Urbanism communities incorporate these guidelines into their plans from the outset, Cherokee Triangle has unwittingly had them in place for well over one hundred years. This is the story of how one such New Urbanism neighborhood was far ahead of the curve.
The Cherokee Triangle Association was incorporated as the Cherokee Association in late 1962. While its boundaries have expanded, its purposes have remained steadfast. (1) To unite property owners in the Cherokee Road-Cherokee Parkway area and vicinity in Louisville, Kentucky. (2) To encourage civic improvements and betterments in that area. (3) To promote community activities and interest of an educational or civic nature in that area. (4) To cooperate with other organizations and persons having similar objectives. (5) To promote community planning, area development, and furthering of public aesthetic consciousness, for the educational benefit of the general public, both directly and by the application of assets to the use of individuals or any corporation, trust, fund, or foundation whose purposes and operations are in the field of civic education.
– Book flap of the Cherokee Triangle: A History of the Heart of the Highlands, by Samuel W. Thomas. Publishers: The Cherokee Triangle Association, Inc.; The Louisville Friends of Olmsted Parks, Inc. First printing March 2003