4th Street Corridor Urban Walking Trail.

By Posted in - Featured Ideas on April 7th, 2014

By: Samantha Alexis Smith & Samantha Yung


Urban walking trails are designated pathways through urban landscapes, like downtown cities, that incorporate physical activity with education and help pedestrians get from one destination to another.

Urban walking trails are designated pathways through urban landscapes, like downtown cities, that incorporate physical activity with education and help pedestrians get from one destination to another.  Urban walking trails often connect one destination to another in a city and have stopping points along the way for pedestrians to gain knowledge about the surrounding area.  These stopping points can highlight important architectural structures, historical sites, suggest nearby restaurants, and other points of interest.

Since urban walking trails can connect significant locations to one another, they also provide a system known as urban wayfinding.  Urban wayfinding is a tactical urbanism technique that uses unconventional means of signage and direction to help pedestrians find their way to a destination.  For example, a non-traditional or handmade sign could be posted on a street lamp or telephone pole notifying pedestrians that Central Park is a ten minute walk south.   Urban walking trails can integrate urban wayfinding methods into their trail systems to effectively and efficiently guide pedestrians to their desired destination.


Where will the trail begin and end?

The 4th street corridor urban walking trail will stretch between the Ohio River waterfront on 4th street near the Galt House Hotel and the Central Avenue entrance to Churchill Downs (near 6th Street).  Pedestrians can begin at either destination or start their urban journey anywhere along the corridor.


How long is the 4th street corridor trail?

The 4th street corridor urban walking trail is approximately five miles long between the Waterfront and Churchill Downs.


How will the 4th street corridor trail function?

Pedestrians will be able to navigate the 4th street urban walking trail by a series of wayfinding signage accompanied by informational plaques.  The corridor trail will essentially be a low maintenance and low cost idea once implemented.   These plaques will be constructed of weatherproof materials and will be easily located along the corridor in plain view.  The corridor plaques will provide simple and interesting information about a particular feature in the corridor and also help pedestrians find their next destination along the corridor.  The plaques will also suggest nearby points of interest such as restaurants, coffee shops, and historical landmarks.  It would also be beneficial for the wayfinding signage/plaques to include technology compatibilities (e.g. a Smartphone application, UPC codes, etc.) that help the user interact more completely with the system and be able to share via social media where they are on the trail, how far they have gone, etc.  The Smartphone app could also include images, interactive maps, Destinations, recommended points of interest, and admission fees and hours (if applicable).


Why does the 4th street corridor need an urban walking trail?

Urban walking trails are a unique and educational experience for pedestrians in urban settings.  Pedestrians get to learn about the city and have the added bonus of outdoor exercise.  Additionally, urban wayfinding systems can provide residents and visitors alike with a guide to the local landmarks, historical areas, and points of interest that may otherwise be overlooked.  The small city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania is one example of a city that has experienced great benefits from installing a wayfinding system.  After installing a city-wide system in 1999, Lancaster experienced a 10% increase in attendance at five major attractions/destinations—in just one year! (Urban Wayfinding Planning and Implementation Manual, 2013).  Moreover, there are many reasons why urban walking trails could be a positive addition to the 4th street corridor—the foremost one being the multitude of benefits that installing a wayfinding system can create.

Benefits of an Urban wayfinding system along the 4th street corridor:

  • Makes the corridor more interesting and attractive
  • Engages residents and visitors
  • Gets people walking, exploring, learning about the corridor
  • Supports local businesses
  • Puts more “eyes on the street” (i.e. promotes safety)
  • Inspires a bigger connectivity of trails throughout the city
  • Provides opportunities for tourists to go beyond the confines of downtown and explore other parts of the corridor and the city


What will the 4th street corridor trail signs look like?

The information plaques will be constructed of attractive weatherproof materials and will be easily located along the corridor in plain view.  The plaques will be no more than three or four feet off the sidewalk to allow for easy reading by pedestrians, children, and wheel chair users.  The corridor plaques will provide simple, easy to read and interesting information about a particular feature in the corridor and also help pedestrians find their next destination along the corridor.  All Louisville residents and visitors should be able to enjoy these creative and fun wayfinding information plaques.  Information should be provided in Braille for visually impaired pedestrians and, ideally, a form of audio rendering of the information could also be provided.

A unique addition to one or more plaques could also be to coincide with Idea #20 on the 100 Ideas for the Corridor.  A sidewalk chalk station could be set up next to an information plaque to allow children a chance to beautify the sidewalk while taking a break from walking the corridor with a parent or guardian.  In an effort to strengthen communication throughout the corridor community, a covered bulletin-board style community board should be installed in each of the four segments of the corridor (Downtown, SoBro, Old Louisville, and South Central).  Local residents, business owners, and even corridor trail users can post information about upcoming events, raise awareness for local issues, or even post items for sale or donation they may have.

In addition to offering fun, trivial information about each featured destination, each plaque will detail the distance from either starting point (the waterfront or Churchill Downs) and include the distance to the next point of interest. The plaques will also suggest nearby points of interest such as restaurants, coffee shops, and historical landmarks.  It would also be beneficial for the wayfinding signage plaques to include technology compatibility (e.g. a Smartphone application, UPC codes, etc.) that help the user interact more completely with the system and be able to share via social media where they are on the trail, how far they have gone, etc.

How will the 4th street corridor trail be funded and managed?

There are a variety of options as to who could manage the corridor trail.  Louisville Metro, the Louisville Downtown Partnership, and/or the Louisville Downtown Management District would be ideal places to start.  Moreover, funding could come from local businesses that could benefit from increased resident and visitor exposure from the signage aspect of the system.  The minimal costs of the wayfinding system could also make it easier to obtain local business sponsorships.  Businesses could sponsor a particular plaque or point of interest, and they could also serve as an important resource for historical information of the surrounding areas.  Potential businesses that would make good sponsors would be retail, restaurants, and churches located along the corridor. Moreover, brochures that include maps and information pertaining to the wayfinding system could also be distributed by local businesses as a way to promote the use of the system.

How much will the the 4th street corridor trail cost?

The corridor trail already conveniently follows the existing sidewalk system throughout the corridor.  No additional materials will be needed to physically construct the walking trail.  The only cost to the physical infrastructure of the trail would be sidewalk repairs funded by Louisville Metro.   The only cost of the corridor trail will be the costs associated with the wayfinding signage plaques, the addition of sidewalk lighting, a community bulletin board, and street furniture accompanying some or all of the plaques.  Additional costs of promoting the corridor trail will also need to be considered, however these costs will be a relatively insignificant amount in relation to the overall corridor trail expenses.

Depending on the materials used, the size of the signage plaques, and the amount of information generated on the plaques, the cost per plaque could range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.  The proposed corridor trail currently recommends 20 locations where plaques would be needed estimating the cost of the corridor trail plaques to be anywhere from approximately $4000 to $40,000.  These figures represent the drastically low financial burden of installing and implementing plaques for the corridor trail in relation to larger scale projects.

In order to encourage a sense of perceived and physical safety, pedestrian scaled lighting fixtures should be installed in poorly lit or more secluded sections of the corridor trail.  Dusk to dawn lighting is the most appropriate choice for the purposes of the corridor trail and will permit pedestrians to use the corridor trail even after the sun goes down.  This kind of lighting can range in costs from approximately $5-$20 per lighting fixture per month.  Solar lighting fixtures are also an environmentally friendly and inexpensive light option for the corridor trail.  After the initial installation costs, solar lighting fixtures along the corridor will not require any additional energy costs over the lifetime of the fixture.

The final corridor trail costs are the addition of the four community bulletin boards and street furniture or bench-style seating along the corridor trail to provide pedestrians with a place to rest throughout their walk or run.  Street furniture is also a relatively inexpensive addition to the corridor trail.  The cost of an attractive, sturdy, and weather resistant park bench can be as low as $100.  Even if a park bench was situated at every signage plaque destination stop along the corridor trail, the total cost could be as low as $2000.  A simple and cost effective way to provide park benches along the corridor trail would be for the local businesses featured along the trail, or even other interested businesses seeking advertisement opportunities, to “donate a bench.”   The four community boards, which could cost as little as less than $200 a piece, could also be donated.  The cost of a covering the community board would also need to be accounted for, but again would represent a relatively low financial expense.

How will the 4th street corridor trail be promoted?

In order for the 4th street corridor trail to be successful, corridor residents and visitors must first be aware such a trail exists.  The promotion of the corridor trail will be critical in making the trail more visible and well known.  In addition to promoting the corridor trail with flyers, posters, and signs, other ways to promote the corridor trail include: promotion through social media, radio and TV advertisements, and door-to-door promotion.  One important and fun way to bring attention to the corridor trail is to have a kick-off event.  Parties involved in the management and funding of the corridor trail, as well as corridor trail volunteers and residents, could organize and promote the kick-off event.  The kick-off event could include fun activities such as games, contests, and even a corridor trail scavenger hunt.



The Trail


Start: Downtown

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRun



The 4th street corridor urban walking trail will have one concluding destination at the Waterfront.  Please see Ideas #42 and #63 and on the 100 Ideas List for information pertaining to a revitalized and redeveloped Waterfront.


Belle of Louisville

401 W. River Road

The Belle of Louisville is a national historic landmark one of the oldest steamboats still in operation–She will celebrate her 100th birthday in October 2014.  Taking a ride on the Belle of Louisville down the Ohio River is a favorite pastime for Louisville residents and visitors. To purchase tickets, click here.


The Galt House Hotel

140 N. 4th St.

After walking south from the waterfront, the second destination on the urban trail is the iconic red-roofed Galt House Hotel overlooking the Ohio River.  The Galt House Hotel opened its doors as a hotel in 1837 and today is still Louisville’s only riverfront hotel and offers the always anticipated holiday event, Christmas at the Galt House. Click here for a history of the Galt House Hotel.


Nearby Points of Interest

Jeff Ruby Louisville LLC  325 W Main St #120

Smashburger   312 S 4th St


Actors Theatre of Louisville

316 W Main St.

The historic Actors Theatre of Louisville is a short walk east from the corner of 4th Street and Main Street.  As Louisville’s premier theater establishment, the Actors Theatre has served as a cornerstone of the revitalization of Louisville’s Main Street. For a history of the Actors Theatre, click here.


4th Street Live

420 W Liberty St

4th Street Live is a popular entertainment district for both Louisville residents and tourists offering a variety of restaurants, retail establishments, and a vibrant nightlife.  Pedestrians can continue walking south on 4th Street and pass through all that this destination has to offer both day and night.


Nearby Points of Interest

Hard Rock Café   424 S 4th St

Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge  446 S 4th St


Thomas Merton Square

S. 4th St. & Muhammad Ali Blvd.

At this  intersection in downtown Louisville in 1958, Thomas Merton had his famous moment of enlightenment. In 2008, this intersection was formally dedicated as Thomas Merton Square, and a historical marker now resides at the site.

DCF 1.0


The Seelbach Hilton Hotel

500 S 4th St

The historic Seelbach Hilton Hotel opened its doors in 1905 and inspired the pages of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.  For a history of the hotel, click here.



The Louisville Palace Theatre

625 S 4th Street

The Louisville Palace Theatre, located on the east side of 4th street between Broadway and Chestnut, is downtown Louisville’s premier venue to catch the best of live entertainment and is on the National Register of Historic Places.



Nearby Points of Interest

Sicilian Pizza & Pasta  627 S 4th St

Safier Mediterranean  641 S 4th St

Bluegrass Brewing Company  660 S 4th St


The Brown Hotel

335 W. Broadway

Opened in 1923, The Brown Hotel is another historic and luxurious hotel that downtown Louisville has to offer.  It was used for many scenes in the popular movie Elizabethtown and can be found on the National Register of Historic Places. For a history of the Brown Hotel, click here.




The Brown Theater

315 W. Broadway

Opened in 1923, the historic Brown Theatre is a lavishly restored showplace.  For history and ticketing information, click here.

Brown theatre



SoBro (South of Broadway) is an area of the 4th street corridor that sits in a unique position between downtown and Old Louisville.  The general boundaries of SoBro are Broadway on the north, Kentucky avenue on the south, I-65 on the east and 9th street on the west.


Louisville Free Public Library  

301 York St.

Built in 1906, the Louisville Free Public Library’s Main branch is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic places and is also a local landmark.  For a history of the historic library, click here.


The 800 Apartments Skyscraper

800 S. 4th Steet

Built in 1963, the 800 Apartments are a local residential tower, and up until 2004, it was the tallest residential building in Louisville. Recognized locally for its unique architecture and mid-century/modern design, the 80o building is hard to miss with its turquoise blue aluminum panels.



Spalding University

845 S. 3rd St.

Established in 1814 by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Spalding University represents a legacy of education.  Today, Spalding is an urban, co-educational institution that offers more than two dozen degree programs.  For more information on the history and heritage of Spalding, click here.


Presentation Academy

861 S. 4th St.

Presentation Academy, a Catholic college preparatory academy for young women founded in 1831, is Louisville’s oldest continuously operating school and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.



Memorial Park

971 S. 4th St.

Memorial Park is a small urban park across the street from Memorial Auditorium.


Memorial Auditorium

970 S. 4th St.

Memorial Auditorium is a concert venue and historic memorial of Greek Revival design.


Nearby Points of Interest

Ollie’s Trolley: 978 S. 3rd St.


Old Louisville

Old Louisville is considered the United States’ second largest National Historic Preservation District and is home to wide array of historic architecture and amenities.


Historic Rocking Horse Manor

1022 S. 3rd St.

This historic Richardsonian Romanesque mansion built in 1888 is a beautiful bed and breakfast.

rocking house

DuPont Mansion Bed & Breakfast

1317 S. 4th St.

This historic bed and breakfast, located in the heart of Old Louisville, offers a selection of services amenities.



The Filson Historical Society

1310 S. 3rd St.

Founded in 1884, The Filson Historical Society is a historical society located in Old Louisville.  Since 1986, the Ferguson Mansion has served as the Society’s headquarters, and it is one of the best examples of Beaux Arts architecture in Louisville.





Central Park

1340 S. 4th St.

Designed by the famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, Central Park is a 16.67 acre park located in the heart of the historic Old Louisville neighborhood.


St. James Court

1387 S. 4th St.

Home of the famous St. James Court Art Fair, St. James Court is arguably one of the most iconic, picturesque residential streets in Louisville.  Home to a variety of historic Victorian homes and intricate architecture, this street is a must see for visitors and residents alike.


South Central (University of Louisville/Churchill Downs)


Cardinal Towne

325 W. Cardinal Boulevard

Cardinal Towne is a mixed residential and commercial use destination that can be enjoyed both by university students and the general public.


Nearby Points of Interest:

Comfy Cow  339 W Cardinal Blvd

Quills Coffee   327 W. Cardinal Blvd

University of Louisville Belknap Campus

Pedestrians traveling along the 4th street corridor urban walking trail will be able to access and explore the University of Louisville’s main campus from 3rd street.



Speed Art Museum

2035 S 3rd St

The J.B. Speed Art Museum is considered to be Kentucky’s top museum and will reopen in 2016 after an extensive renovation.


University of Louisville Oval

2301 S 3rd St


Nearby Points of Interest:

Grawmeyer Hall & The Thinker


Louis D. Brandeis School of Law


Stansbury Park

2302 S 3rd St

Stansbury Park is a recreational urban green space situated between the University of Louisville and 4th Street.


Wagner’s Pharmacy  3113 S 4th St

Churchill Downs

700 Central Ave

Home of the world famous Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs is one of the top horse racing tracks in the world and is located on the 4th street corridor.  It is also a registered national historic landmark.









Photo attributions:

© Kurt Adkins / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

User: Brando03 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

User: local louisville / CC-BY-SA-3.0

User: Wmarsh / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

User: Derek.cashman / cc-by/3.0

© Censusdata / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

User: Sylfred1977/ Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

User: Nyttend/ Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

User: Sweetredwine /  cc-by/3.0

User: W.marsh / cc-by/3.0

Main branch of the en:Louisville Free Public Library by User:Sfan00_IMGCC-BY-2.5

© Quadell / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

© JMSchneid / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

Kevin Yates / 4th Street Live!

User: Erik Holfelder / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

User: Xnatedawgx / CC-BY-2.5

(5) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • MIssy Smith - Reply

    April 22, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Living in a rural community, I sometimes take for granted the opportunities I have to get out and walk. Providing an urban walking trail would be a real asset to those that live and visit urban areas. I think an urban walking trail could possibly entice rural/suburban residents to visit the city and learn more about 4th street.

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