The Effects of Urbanization on Downtown Louisville David Taylor Environmental Science Brown Mackie College Mark Dutrow September 20, 2012 Abstract As our cities become larger, more congested, and more urbanized we are beginning to start seeing some of the long term effects we are making on our urban environment. As we are becoming more aware of our pollution and measures to improve it, we can look back on systems of the past and see where they are negatively affecting our environment. Acid rain is the most noticeable since you can see the visible deterioration, unnatural discoloration, and erosion caused by the acid rain.
Another noticeable problem is the signs of chemicals that have been used to preserve monuments and lubricate other structures. If we don’t do something to correct the mistakes our ancestors made in the development and urbanization of Louisville and the surrounding areas, the next generation will have to spend millions if not billions of dollars to correct these errors. Why is Louisville here? Jefferson County was organized in 1780 and one of the first three counties formed out of the original Kentucky County, which was still part of Virginia at the time (the other two being Fayette and Lincoln).
The county is named for Thomas Jefferson, who was governor of Virginia at the time. Downtown Louisville is the oldest part of the city of Louisville, whose initial development was closely tied to the Ohio River. The largest early fort, Fort Nelson, was built in 1781 near what is today the corner of 7th and Main streets. Many early residents lived nearby after moving out of the forts by the mid-1780s, although little remains from of the earliest (mostly wood) structures. Louisville became a popular stopping point for travelers on the Ohio River.
Because of the falls of the Ohio and the rapids, boats had to stop, unload their cargo, traverse the rapids and then reload to continue their journey. With Louisville being located so close to the falls it grew into a bustling town catering to the travelers by opening several hotels and saloons. (www. hellolouisville. com/, n. d. ) How has development affected the environment in Louisville? People who live in urban areas have very different consumption patterns than residents in rural areas. 10 For example; urban populations consume much more food, energy, and durable goods than rural populations.
With economic development, the difference in consumption declined as the rural populations ate better diets. Urban populations not only consume more food, but they also consume more durable goods. Energy consumption for electricity, transportation, cooking, and heating is much higher in urban areas than in rural areas. For example, urban populations have many more cars than rural populations per capita. Almost all of the cars in the world in the 1930s were in the United States. Today we have a car for every two people in the United States. If that became the norm, in 2050 there would be 5. billion cars in the world, all using energy. (http://www. prb. org/, n. d. ) In the downtown Louisville area, all of the rain runoff includes all of the fluids that have leaked out of the vehicles as well as the chemicals that are washed off of all the buildings. This contamination has caused pH of the Ohio to change which in turn limits the number of species of fish that can survive in the now contaminated water. The manmade structures we have put in the Ohio River are also contributing to this pH change. Steel piers and concrete pillars being the majority of these structures.
How has pollution deteriorated downtown structures? One of the biggest negative affects is the deterioration of the buildings caused by acid rain. Another observation during the fieldtrip was the visible damage caused by chemicals used in joints of buildings as well as leaking from statues that were sealed so they won’t erode. Air pollution damages materials, especially those used in buildings because of their long service life, sometimes of the order of hundreds of years. Damage to other objects tends to be less important: most cars, for instance, are replaced long before damage from air pollution has become significant.
The phenomena of the degradation of buildings are complex due to the numerous factors that intervene. However it is generally recognized that man-made pollutants have greatly increased the degradation rate of buildings. Of particular importance is soiling caused by particles (especially soot) and corrosion or erosion caused by SO2. (arirabl. org, n. d. ) What would downtown look like if Louisville had not been developed? The area would look totally different. The landscape would be serene with rolling hills, thousands of trees, natural flow of the river, and natural flow of creeks feeding into the Ohio River.
The power plant as well as the lock and dam wouldn’t be obstructing the Ohio. The wooded area would be teeming with wildlife and the river would be stocked with several species of fish that don’t occupy it today. Which natural disasters is the downtown area prepared for? Downtown Louisville is prepared for a couple of natural disasters. Some natural disasters are not common to the area such as, hurricane’s, mudslides, volcano’s, and tsunami’s. However, floods, tornado’s, and earthquake’s are common to the Louisville area. The downtown area has prepared for flooding by elevating most all of the buildings to a height above the 1937 flood depth.
There is also a flood wall that has been put into place to keep water from destroying majority of the city. The buildings in the downtown area have also been designed or retro fitted to withstand the wind velocity associated with tornados. However, the downtown area is not prepared for a strong earthquake. Even though Louisville is on the New Madrid Fault the cost associated with making all structures reinforced enough to withstand a strong earthquake is too great. References Urbanization: An Environmental Force to Be Reckoned With – Population Reference Bureau. (n. d. ).
Home – Population Reference Bureau. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from http://www. prb. org/Articles/2004/UrbanizationAnEnvironmentalForcetoBeReckonedWith. aspx Buildings-PollAtmos. pdf. (n. d. ). arirabl. org/. Retrieved September 20, 2012, from arirabl. org/Publications_files/Buildings-PollAtmos. pdf Louisville History – HelloLouisville. com. (n. d. ). Louisville, Kentucky – Louisville City Guide. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from http://www. hellolouisville. com/history. cfm 1 1 2 2 3 3 1 – Original Downtown 2 – River 3 – Falls of the Ohio Falls of the Ohio – 1824 Downtown Louisville – 1830’s