Thursday, July 23, 2009

Desiring a Streetcar

Whenever I tell someone that I am a New Orleans transplant, inevitably that person says something along the lines of: "Wow, that must have been culture shock." And that inevitably leads to me spouting off all of the reasons why Louisville is kind of like New Orleans in a lot of subtle, but important (to me), ways. Great arts scene. Good music. Good food. Very neighborhood oriented. Walkable. Victorian architecture. Blue oasis in a sea of red. Wonderful bars (and late night closing). Not to mention the whole fleur-de-lis thing.

Today Broken Sidewalk features an article about a proposal for a Bardstown Road streetcar from the Douglas Loop to Baxter (and beyond!). And all I can say to that is: YES, PLEASE!

I miss a lot of stuff about New Orleans and on that list of myriad loves is the rattletrap sound of the streetcar clattering down St. Charles. It's a sound that became all the more significant to me (and I daresay all New Orleanians) after Katrina because it was silenced for so many months. I still remember the first day that I heard the streetcar resume its abbreviated route after all of the post-Katrina repairs. I cried. (Of course, EVERYTHING made me cry in the months after Katrina)

Not only does a streetcar make excellent sense for commuters and neighborhood consumers, but the St. Charles streetcar is one of New Orleans's biggest tourist attractions. In Louisville, too many convention-goers don't venture much further than Fourth Street Live, and Lord knows none of us want Mr. and Ms. Convention-Goer to return to their hometowns thinking THAT'S what Louisville has to offer. No more than your average New Orleanian wants tourists to go home thinking the French Quarter IS New Orleans. (Not that you can compare the two: historic national park vs. Cordish chain mall)

A Bardstown streetcar would bring tourists and conventioneers to the "real" Louisville and plunk them right down in the middle of a sea locally-owned businesses. That means dinner money spent at Ramsi's rather than TGIFridays. That means cocktail hour at Avalon and not the Hard Rock. That means a book for the plane ride home bought at Carmichael's and not at Borders.

I'll say it again: yes, please!

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