Louisville, KY


Main Street East

Curated by
James Carroll

0.85 miles
24 Points of Interest

Copyright 2019


You are taking this tour AT YOUR OWN RISK. Be aware of cars and other pedestrians. If you are walking slowly, move to the side. Do not stand in the middle of the sidewalk. Cross the street only at crosswalks. Put your phone down when crossing the street.
These are good rules for any downtown. Just remember, if you get squished it is your fault.

Table of Contents


Make your way to the intersection of Main Street and Third Street.

The Bridge

38.256455, -85.754855
Check the Map
Make your way to the NE corner. Yum! Center will be behind you and a large rough-hewn stone building will be diagonally across the street.
There are six Points of Interest in this section.

Skip to
Washington Street

If you are not there already, walk to the corner for a good view of that stone building.

Another fortress.

Like the others, there is a tall foundation section; this time there is a below-grade first floor (basement?) with an elevated main floor. The stones are larger, as are the windows, than those on the upper floors.

The five upper floors have smaller, but still rough-hewn, block walls. The columns of five window sections are topped with a heavy arch. The horizontal band just below the top three floors visually separates them from the lower floors, as if they are the most secure.

The large windows below the arches make the top floor seem like it could be an wide-open space, like a ballroom–and what a view!

Then, there is the lattice wall along the roof. What is it hiding? Surely not the standard air-conditioning works–perhaps a garden for those on those upper three floors?

Turn to your left and walk to the corner. You will see two tower-like structures.

Over the bridge.

Because there are always critters, notice that there are Eagles perched atop the columns.

If you like, you can follow the sidewalk around and over the bridge. It has a nice view of the Ohio River and Indiana. If you decide to walk on the bridge, just come back to this spot to continue the stroll.

You can walk into Indiana as well–you cross the state line as soon as you are over land again–but the round trip is just over 1.5 miles.

Walk back into the plaza and head toward the right side of the building. Follow the sidewalk along the side of the building and you will find some stairs. Descend into the depths.

Under the bridge.

Well, it is not that deep, but you are beneath a road. There are buildings, a some roads, and probably some traffic. Take some time to look around–particularly UP.
After all, how many times are you going to be under a bridge?

If you look across to the road and slightly to you right you will see something curvy and long, and with two heads.

A critter.

Or critters? It could be a bike rack or a sculpture. Or a guardian. Just to the right is a very solid-looking door.

Turn around to your right and start walking along the building to your left, toward the river. You will see two silver walls flanking the road.


They are nice art objects, and act as a frame for the view of the river and the stone bridge supports. But that is not all–they are floodgates as well. If you look closely you will see they are on hinges and swing to close off the road.

Walk back up to the Stop sign and cross to the opposite side of the road. Turn right and cross that road as well. Continue walking to the next corner.

There had to be one.

He is not part of a building, but he is too big to not point out. Yes, there is a troll under the bridge.

Washington Street

38.256969, -85.752991
Check the Map
Walk back up to the Stop sign and cross to the opposite side of the road. Turn right and cross that road as well. Continue walking to the next corner.
There are three Points of Interest in this section.

Skip to
Main Street South

And look directly across the street.

There had to be one.

He is not part of a building, but he is too big to not point out. Yes, there is a troll under the bridge.

When you are ready, cross to the brick building that the troll is facing. About halfway down the building you will see an entrance with a large arch. That is our next stop.

An entrance.

On your right you will see the lower backside of some Main Street buildings. When you get to the arch, take some time to look at all the details. And this time, they are at street level.

Continue walking to the next corner. You will see a small gray marquee.


Do not just pass under the marquee. Stop and look at the arch and triangle details and the brackets underneath. If you look above it you can see that stars are holding it to the wall.

Main Street South

38.256133, -85.751619
Check the Map
When you arrive at the corner, turn right, cross to the opposite side of the road and continue to the next corner. Cross to the opposite side of this road (Main Street) as well.
There are ten Points of Interest in this section.

Skip to
Main Street North

Turn right and walk to face the first two buildings beside the hotel.


Only the fronts of the buildings remain. This may seem strange, keeping a useless part of a building when the rest is gone, but it is vital to the streetscape. If nothing else, a missing building can cause the street to look like a smile with a missing tooth.
Plus, it adds a sort of theatricality–they look like stage or movie sets.

Walk to face the wide brick building with all the arched windows.


Look at the top floor. Notice how easy it is to let your eyes flow across the arches from right to left. Until, that is, you get to the last floor–they are subtly different. This happens on the floor below as well. You can see a vertical seam between the window sections even though the roofline stays the same.

Imagine this as four sections, each having four columns of windows. Did they make up one very wide building, with the left section having a different purpose? Was the left section separate from the other three?

Walk to face the narrow building to the left.

Something unique.

This building has a detail that the others do not. What do you think it is?

The height? Nope, because some of the other buildings are tall.

The color? Not really, because there is a variety of colors.

Hint: it has to do with the windows.

They windows are set back from the front of the building. The front shares some of the same geometrical shapes, but the windows are behind them. This is really noticeable on the second floor–the front wall is pushed so far back that the area becomes a porch.

Walk to face the beige buildings to the left.

One or two?

Is this one wide building or two separate buildings? The cornerstones on the sides of the narrow section make it look like a separate building, but it shares the same window style and roof details. Even the first floor details are the same.

Perhaps it was a single building but the narrow section was office space.

Walk to face the last building on the block.


There is no question that this building is on its own. It does share some of the same geometric shapes, but they are slightly different from the others. Another detail that sets it apart is the raised first floor.

Walk to the corner and cross to the other side of Second Street.

The bridge, again.

Turn to look at the bridge. This is the best view that does not require standing in the middle of the road.

Continue walking along Main Street to the next corner. You will be facing the first building we looked at.


You can get a closer look at the details, especially the foliage border around those small columns in the lower center.

Now, look at the parking garage beside the building. Which look better? Which makes the street feel more people friendly? Parking garages are necessary these days but imagine the front being clad in a veneer of stone so it blended in with the older building.

Before we cross the street, take a quick look to your left at the building on the far corner.


Notice how rough and discolored the bricks in the lower part of the wall look. This is what happens when the adjacent building is demolished–it exposes the structural bricks that were never meant to be seen. It is not necessarily UGLY, but it does indicate that something was lost.

Cross to the opposite side of Third Street. Walk to face the corner building.

Close up.

Now you can see the carved details even better. Also notice that there is a single small columns surrounded by the foliage border.

Continue walking along Main Street. Stop when you see a building with large stone columns in front.

A bank.

There is no doubt that this was a bank–all the elements reflect stability and security. Notice that the front wall is set back from the sidewalk.

Main Street North

38.256579, -85.756471
Check the Map
Continue to the corner. Turn right and cross to the north side of Main Street.
There are five Points of Interest in this section.

Skip to
The End

Walk past the pedestrian bridge and look at the first two buildings on your right.


If you look at the first floor it seems like this is a single building–the dark brick wall pulls everything together.

But, if you look above that they are clearly separate buildings. They do not share any details and there is a clear separation of the vertical details on the second and third floors.

Walk to face the tall building.


There is something that makes this building different from all the other buildings we have seen. What is it?

The fire escape.

Not that it has one; other buildings do but on the sides or in the back. It breaks up the front, but not really in a bad way, and it makes the building feel like it was transplated from a city like New York.

Now, take some time to look at the details, especially those at the very top. Why do they always put the nicest details so very far away?

Take a quick look to your left.

A moat.

Notice how the building is set back from the sidewalk and separated by a lower section filled with trees. This makes it feel both part of the street and NOT part of the street.

Walk to face the bank.

A bank, again.

Across the street it feels a little less like a bank and more like a library. Or that it was a bank for other banks–that you would not just pop in to get some cash.

It does have a very un-banklike detail at the top. It almost feels like it might have been transplated from another building.

Walk to face the building to the left of the bank.

Small details.

If you can see past the trees, look at the details in the arched parts of the windows. In the lower two floors there are three circles around a semicircle, while the upper floor has two circles flanking a teardrop.

Also, notice how the upper floor feels especially old. Maybe it is the dark color of the details. Maybe it is the narrow windows, or the closeness of the roof details to the windows. In any case, the top floor would not look strange as a single floor separate building.

You are done!

Continue to the corner and cross to the opposite side of Third Street. You are back where you started.


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