The source of Butchertown’s name is no secret: since its founding, the area has been unusually industrial for a neighborhood – in particular, it has been home to many butchers. Only one slaughterhouse continues to operate in Louisville’s Butchertown, however, which signifies that the neighborhood’s bloody nickname is, for the most part, a historical reference.
Litigation and measures pushed by the Butchertown Neighborhood Association on behalf of its residents imply that the neighborhood’s last slaughterhouse, JBS Swift, may not be in the area forever. The BNA and JBS have gone head-to-head several times in the past 10 years on issues including noise pollution, safety for the slaughterhouse’s neighbors, and reduction of the unpleasant odors emitted at the plant.
Butchertown became a hotspot for local butchers in the mid-1800’s because of its location at what was then the edge of Louisville. As time passed, however, the neighborhood became more and more residential and urban, making its last slaughterhouse stand increasingly out of place. Many wish for the plant to be relocated to a more rural location in Jefferson County.
The successful revitalization of the western portion of Butchertown, now called “NuLu,” has attracted attention from the local and even national press. However, revitalization has been going on in the greater Butchertown area for decades–the neighborhood would not have been able to transition from being primarily industrial in the early twentieth century to the mostly-residential neighborhood it is today without a “remarkable preservation movement . . . inspired by the revitalization efforts of Old Louisville,” according to the Encyclopedia of Louisville.
The future of Butchertown is hazy: the construction of a new bridge will likely mean demolition of buildings and more traffic in the area. However, the neighborhood has proven its strength and community against the odds in the past, and chances are that its dedicated neighborhood association will continue to do so.
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