Braille Monitor                                                                                                            January 2005

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The Third Time with Even More Charm

by Cathy Jackson

An entrance to Fourth Street Live.
An entrance to Fourth Street Live

From the editor: Cathy Jackson is president of the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky. She lives and works in Louisville. Here is what she has to say about our 2005 convention headquarters hotel and the changes that have taken place in Louisville since we were last there:

We are pleased to welcome you back to Louisville, "the place to live, work, and play." The members of the NFB of Kentucky are up to the challenge of doing the hard work and planning for the 2005 annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. We believe we can build on the success of the two previous conventions held here in recent years and make this one the biggest and best ever.

From the minute you enter your hotel, through the opening ceremonies, to the fall of the gavel adjourning the convention, the first week of July will crackle with electricity. Make plans to arrive early and stay to the very end. You will not want to miss one minute of the excitement, beginning with the preconvention activities on July 2. Aside from the usual division meetings, activities for parents of blind children, exhibits, general sessions, and of course the annual banquet, you will want to take full advantage of what the Kentucky affiliate is planning.

By the time you are reading this article, we will have kicked into overdrive. Social activities are being planned for your enjoyment so that you can relax and share the good times with fellow Federationists. Ladies and gents will be at your beck and call in the Kentucky suite, serving up a hearty helping of hospitality, Kentucky style. Although many of you have visited here before, there is still plenty to see around Louisville. We are organizing some new and different tours.

While many things remain the same, you can also expect some exciting changes. The remodeling of the Galt House East Tower has been completed. You will immediately notice a much brighter and more spacious lobby as soon as you enter through the huge new revolving door. The layout of the suites is a bit different, but that does not detract from the modern and inviting decor. Two new escalators make the flow of pedestrian traffic between meeting rooms more efficient. The East Tower is now conveniently connected by an enclosed pedway to the Louisville Convention Center, the Hyatt Regency (our overflow hotel), and Fourth Street Live.

Unfortunately the renovations on the west side will not be completed by July. The facade of the West Tower is currently undergoing a construction makeover and will greet you with a more contemporary appearance. An escalator is also being installed at the south end of the Galt House West. The management has assured us, though, that the hotel restaurants will be ready and the outdoor pool will be open this summer. A more detailed description of both towers will appear in a later issue of the Braille Monitor. Remember, folks, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Back in the 1930's and '40's Louisville's downtown business district was thriving. Retail stores, cafeterias, restaurants, and movie theaters brought people by the thousands, eager to spend their money. In the fifties, when cruising became the rage, Fourth Street was a gridlock of cars on Friday and Saturday nights. As the population migrated to the suburbs in the late fifties and early sixties, the downtown area declined. Shopping centers and indoor malls sprang up around these new neighborhoods. By the mid seventies the city planners had a new idea on the drawing board to revitalize the area. They proposed an indoor mall, to be called the Louisville Galleria. Fourth Street would be closed to through traffic, and an entire city block would be enclosed and covered with a glass atrium. Some said that closing Fourth Street to traffic was a mistake and would spell disaster for the city.

In October of 1982 the Louisville Galleria opened, and for over twenty years it served those who lived and worked in downtown Louisville. Those of you who attended the national convention here in 1985 will remember the Galleria during its glory days. By the time you returned in 2002 and 2003, it had become a shell of its former self. Most of the storefronts were empty and the food court was closed--an idea whose day had come and gone.

Well, the Galleria is no more. It has been replaced with Fourth Street Live--the happenin' place in our fair city. This $75 million project is now the heart of the city, bordered on the north by Liberty Street, on the south by Muhammad Ali, on the east by Third Street, and on the west by Fifth Street. The sides of the structure have been removed, and the street has been opened to pedestrians so that they may stroll from place to place in the great outdoors. The glass atrium still remains, a feature that allows many of the restaurants to provide outdoor seating while protecting their customers from the elements.

You can choose from a variety of restaurants and taverns, such as Hard Rock Cafe, T.G.I.Fridays, Sully's Restaurant and Tavern, the Red Cheetah, and the Red Star Tavern. If fast food is what you are hankering for, try the food court. There is no shortage of entertainment either. Lucky Strike Lanes, Felt (an upscale pool hall and cigar bar), and Rascals Comedy Club are just waiting to show you a good time. Connoisseurs of good bourbon will want to make time to check out Maker's Mark House of Liquor. Fashion Shop is open if you forgot to pack a thing or two. Borders Books is much more than a bookstore. It is a unique place to browse. The exercise fiends among us will be pleased to know that there is a Premier Fitness Club. Fourth Street Live is indeed a blend of national, regional, and local businesses. Keep your ear to the ground for announcements about the free outdoor concerts that will be returning this summer.

The Cordish Company is the developer responsible for revolutionizing this urban district. And even though we have just celebrated the grand opening of Fourth Street Live, plans for expansion are ongoing. This open outdoor entertainment district is the anchor for what developers hope will be business and entertainment expansion along the Fourth Street corridor and surrounding streets. This is all a part of the master plan for the rebirth of the great city of Louisville. We can promise you that, by the time you set foot on Kentucky soil, there will be even more to do and see.

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