Main Street, Louisville

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Main Street, Louisville

The 700 Block of West Main Street, south side, was constructed from the early 1800's to the 1890's. This block is included in the Historical "West Main Street Preservation District" which has the 2nd largest collection of Cast Iron Architecture in the United States.

It has been said that the Main Street District is the most impressive and continuous visual records of a 19th-century city’s commercial activity in existence. Many experts consider the Hart Block Building, (tallest building shown), as the finest example of Cast-Iron Architecture in the country. Cast Iron structures were the forerunner of the steel skyscraper.

Previous buildings were built with masonry-brick and stone. Cast Iron buildings could be mail-ordered from catalogs and shipped anywhere in the world. They were cheaper, lighter, and stronger structures, which allowed for larger window openings. Ornamentation was limited only by the imagination. Thin columns and large windows are a distinguishing characteristic of the Cast Iron Architecture.

West Main Street buildings were originally built as warehouses near the commercial riverfront. Original uses included a bank, wholesale grocery, hardware store, stove, and tin company, and saddle, harness, and clothing stores. What was an inexpensive, innovative, and practical design of the 1800's has become one of Louisville's great architectural treasures today.

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