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Metro Newsroom

Landscape Society Honors Mayor Abramson

Friday November 2, 2007

Citing the development of Waterfront Park and the creation of the City of Parks initiative, the nation’s top landscape society has named Mayor Jerry Abramson an honorary member.

The American Society of Landscape Architects will bestow the award on Abramson at its annual meeting next fall, said Dennis Carmichael, the group’s past president. Abramson and 11 others will be inducted, including environmental activist Robert Redford, architect and author William McDonough, and William Hudnut, former mayor of Indianapolis.

“I was proud to nominate Mayor Abramson for all he has done for Louisville over the past two decades to make landscape a vital part of economic revitalization and quality of life for its citizens,” Carmichael said.

The society, with 18,000 members, cited four reasons for honoring Abramson — Waterfront Park, the creation of the Olmsted Conservancy, the renovation of West Main Street and the creation of City of Parks.

“This is a humbling honor — and it’s a testament that our city values its environment and parks,” Abramson said. “We have a long tradition of excellence in landscape architecture, in Louisville, dating back to Frederick Law Olmsted.”

Waterfront Park was named one the nation’s 10 Best Urban Parks by Urban Land Magazine — and the City of Parks initiative will add 4,000 new acres of parkland in Louisville, along with a 100-mile hiking and biking loop encircling the city. It’s one of the largest urban parks expansion projects in the nation, according to Wallace Roberts Todd, the landscape firm hired to help develop the master plan.

Abramson was a strong advocate in the creation of the non-profit Olmsted Conservancy, formed in 1989. The organization’s mission is to preserve and enhance the city’s unique Olmsted parks and parkways.

And, under Abramson’s leadership, West Main was transformed from a derelict district of vacant buildings into a vibrant arts and cultural area that reflects the street’s cast iron facades. The city hired landscape architects to help with the transformation.

Louisville resident Grady Clay, a former editor of Landscape Architecture magazine, said in a nominating letter to the society that Abramson has been a visionary leader.

“He consistently showed great respect for the Louisville parks tradition of first-class design, accomplished through the employment of recognized landscape architects in carrying out the larger community goals,” Clay wrote.