Map It

Map City Services

Enter an address:
(e.g., 410 S Fifth Street)


Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom

Louisville Remembers ’37 Flood

Monday January 22, 2007

--City posting signs at high-water marks across Louisville--
--70th Anniversary event set for Jan. 28--

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the 1937 flood that washed out more than half of the city’s then 64,000 homes. Mayor Jerry Abramson today began the city’s remembrance of the flood by posting the first of several signs that will be installed around Louisville identifying the flood’s high-water marks.

A “Black Sunday” commemoration event is set for January 28, and will feature a panel discussion including the mayor, several historians, and the author of a new book documenting the flood. The free event is 2 to 4 p.m. at the Louisville Gardens, 525 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., a site that served as an evacuation and shelter center for more than 75,000 displaced citizens during the flood.

“The spirit of Louisville’s citizens rose to fight the rising flood waters those dark and cold days 70 years ago,” Mayor Jerry Abramson said. “We should remember and replicate that spirit as we continue our city’s ongoing efforts to prepare for disasters and catastrophic challenges of all kinds.”

The impact of the ’37 flood was astounding:

  • 270 of the city’s 350 miles of paved roads were inundated;
  • 70 percent of the city’s residents (more than 175,000 people) were evacuated from their homes;
  • $52 million in damage, which in today’s dollars is the equivalent of $710 million.

At the same time Louisville’s response and recovery was inspiring:

  • While martial law was declared all administrative decisions were under the control of the mayor, and government employees and civilian volunteers provided much of the emergency response;
  • 6,650 local workers were hired to aid flood relief;
  • The Red Cross fed 230,000 people a day during the crisis;
  • The Health Department and Red Cross provided 220,000 typhoid injections;
  • Not a single industry was lost to the flood; and
  • After the flood, retail sales were up 40 percent and building permits up 52 percent over the same period the previous year.

The commemoration event will feature a panel discussion including Mayor Abramson, Rick Bell, author of The Great Flood of 1937: Rising Waters—Soaring Spirits; Delinda Buie, curator of rare books, special collections for University of Louisville Libraries; Chuck Parrish, historian for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Keith Runyon, editor of the Forum for The Courier-Journal.

Author Rick Bell will sign copies of his book following the program. Attendees can register to win an overnight stay at the Brown Hotel and a fish dinner compliments of Cunningham’s.

If You Go
“Black Sunday” – The Commemoration of the Great Flood of 1937

Jan. 28, 2007, 2-4 p.m., Louisville Gardens, 525 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.


For more information contact Rick Bell, U.S. Marine Hospital Foundation, 772-8328

Free parking available at the Louisville Gardens Parking Garage (415 S. 6th St.), at the 4th Street Live! Garage (425 S. 5th St.), and at metered spaces on the streets. There also are a number of nearby privately operated parking garages and surface lots that may charge to park. The Gardens is accessible via TARC routes.

’37 Flood High-Water Marks Sign Locations
4th St. and River Rd., at the wharf
4th and York Sts.
Baxter Ave. at Lexington Ave./Liberty St. intersection
E. Broadway, 400 block
E. Broadway at railroad overpass
W. Broadway and 4th St.
W. Broadway and 9th St.
W. Broadway, 4400 block
Brownsboro Rd. at Coral Ave.
Cane Run Rd., 9300 block
Cedar Grove Terrace and Rudd Ave.
Central Ave. near Churchill Downs Gate 1
Dixie Hwy., 14500 block at railroad overpass
Eastern Parkway and 3rd St.
Eastern Parkway, 1100 block
Lexington Rd. and Grinstead Dr.
Lexington Rd. and Payne St.
Northwestern Parkway near Shawnee Golf Clubhouse
Preston and Witherspoon Sts.
Preston Hwy. near Outer Loop
River Rd. at bridge over Beargrass Creek
River Rd. near Tumbleweed
River Rd. and Zorn Ave.
RiverWalk in Portland area
Southwestern Parkway near Shawnee ballfields