In the early 1890s, Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed Central Park in New York, came to Kentucky to design one of his masterpieces: the Louisville parks system. Olmsted created a halo of parks and parkways that remain one of our city’s treasures — Cherokee Park in east Louisville, Iroquois Park in southwest Louisville, and Shawnee Park in west Louisville, among many others. At the time, the parks were built beyond the edge of the municipal boundaries, but as the city grew around them, they blossomed into Olmsted’s dream of “bringing nature into neighborhoods.”
The vision of The Parklands is to extend Olmsted’s legacy into the 21st century. Louisville has flourished as a gateway into the future because we understand that people feel more settled when they live amid the waterfalls hidden along our trails or the green-and-golden-rust panorama of the Kentucky landscape. Our urban park corridor belts the outskirts of Louisville right now, but as the city continues to grow, The Parklands will remain a haven where people can still enjoy foliage and clean air and a standard of living that’s second to none.
The history of The Parklands began in the 1890s with Olmsted’s Louisville parks system, but his vision sprouted for a new century with the posing of a simple question: What can the present generation do that would have the same impact on Louisville as the Olmsted Generation? With Louisville’s boundaries extending well beyond the existing necklace of Olmstedian parks and parkways, 21st Century Parks, Inc. was founded in 2004 to build a park system that would serve the city’s residents by preserving the last undeveloped piece of Jefferson County.
After determining a location, this new, private nonprofit organization, now better known as The Parklands of Floyds Fork, first contracted with the design firm Wallace, Roberts & Todd, who finished a master plan in November 2008 that included input from citizens and stakeholder groups across the region. Following more than 80 land transactions — none of which included eminent domain — construction of The Parklands began in 2011 with the opening of the Marshall Playground and Sprayground to the public. The first portion of the Louisville Loop within The Parklands opened in November 2012, while Beckley Creek Park and Pope Lick Park opened almost a year later, on September 6, 2013. By February 2013, the capital campaign was completed, allowing The Parklands to complete construction of all four parks, including Turkey Run Park in October 2015, Broad Run Park in April 2016, and the Strand in September 2016.
Designed for generations.
The completion of the capital campaign coincided with the launch of The Parklands Membership Program. Membership provides vital funding for annual operations of this donor- and visitor-supported public park, which now sees 3 million visits annually. Silo Center Bike Park in Turkey Run Park opened in September 2017, and in 2019 we announced the opening of one of the treasures of The Parklands — the Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden in Broad Run Park, 15 acres of living woodland planted for future generations.
The Parklands would not be possible without the countless hours that our leadership, our staff, and our board have dedicated to our mission. Meet the cream of the crop.
Join our growing team responsible for maintaining The Parklands. Review open positions below. To apply, email your resume, cover letter, and references to firstname.lastname@example.org with the job title in the subject line.
Our urban park system has created some of the most livable neighborhoods in the nation, but it wouldn’t be possible without our generous donors and community partnerships.
The Parklands Resources
2019 Annual Report
2018 Annual Report
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