We’ve all been there: Someone’s trying to give you directions by describing 10 lefts, 20 rights, and a jumble of cardinal directions. Isn’t it easier to just point out a landmark?
That’s exactly what we’re doing. We have 11 of the most recognizable landmarks in Derby City — from a burger stand to the facade of a 19th-century house. Not only are these local icons easy to remember, but they’ll also get you where you need to go in a jiffy.
Louisville Water Tower Park
Address: 3005 River Rd.
Nearby: River Road BBQ, Louisville Champions Park, Haymarket
Located on the banks of the Ohio River, this historic site features the 185-foot Louisville Water Tower, which is the oldest ornamental water tower in the world. The tower and its adjacent pumping station were designated National Landmarks in 1971. Visit the museum or book the Grand Hall for your next big event.
Big Four Bridge
Address: 1101 River Rd.
Nearby: Waterfront Park, Lynn Family Stadium, Dave Armstrong Extreme Park, Against the Grain
Before visitors could walk across this half-mile pedestrian bridge connecting Waterfront Park to downtown Jeffersonville, IN, it was a functioning railroad bridge. In use from 1895, the bridge sat untouched from 1969 until it opened as the Big Four in 2013. Fun fact: The LED lighting system wrapped around the iron fretwork can be programmed for special events.
Cave Hill Cemetery & Arboretum
Address: 701 Baxter Ave.
Nearby: Goodfellas Pizza, Hi-Wire Brewing, Bardstown Road restaurant + shopping district
This 296-acre, Victorian-era cemetery near the Highlands is where many famous Louisvillians are buried, like Muhammad Ali, Enid Yandell, Colonel Harland Sanders, and George Rogers Clark.
Belle of Louisville
Address: 401 W. River Rd.
Nearby: KFC Yum! Center, The Galt House, Louisville River Walk, Joe’s Crab Shack
It’s hard to miss this red and white steamboat when crossing the Second Street Bridge. The Belle of Louisville is a waterfront icon and has been cruising the Ohio River since 1914.
Address: 978 S. 3rd St.
Nearby: Noble Funk Brewing Company, Spalding University, Memorial Park
What makes this small hamburger operation notable is that it’s located inside an old trolley car. It opened in Derby City in 1973 and grew to have nearly 100 other locations across the country, but the Ollie Burger never really caught on, leaving the landmark restaurant in Old Louisville one of three remaining locations.
Address: 6100 Dutchmans Ln.
Nearby: Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Big Spring Country Club, Breckenridge Lane
The ornate latticework + Prairie-style architecture of this East End tower is often misattributedto Frank Llyod Wright. While Wright’s firm was responsible for the design of the building, it was his son-in-law, William Wesley Peters, who oversaw the project.
Address: 818 W. Kenwood Dr.
Nearby: Iroquois Park, DeSales High School, Southern Parkway
Designated a local landmark in 2008, this 20th-century beacon across from Iroquois Park has seen life as a dining hall, Louisville’s first zoo, and a nightclub. Today, it’s home to several restaurants. Fun fact: According to local oral history, Elvis played there in the 1950s.
Crescent Hill Reservoir
Address: 3018 Frankfort Ave.
Nearby: Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center, Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe, FABD Smokehouse
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this historic Crescent Hill site features a Gothic architecture-style gatehouse and a reservoir capable of holding 110 million gallons of water. It’s flanked by a paved path, which makes it ideal for walkers and runners.
Address: 1006 W. Main St.
Nearby: Museum Row, Shippingport Brewing, Kentucky Peerless Distilling
For over 100 years, this West Louisville novelty shop has had a 36-foot-tall bat lurking on the side of the building.
Churchill Downs’ Twin Spires
Address: 700 Central Ave.
Nearby: L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium, Wagner’s Pharmacy
The spires at Churchill Downs are one of the most iconic images of the Kentucky Derby. They were built in 1895 to give the racetrack a striking appearance.
Cathedral of Assumption
Address: 433 S. 5th St.
Nearby: The Seelbach Hilton hotel, Fourth Street Live!, Jefferson Square Park
Located in the heart of downtown Louisville, this Neo-Gothic-style Catholic church was completed in 1852. The steeple, which was the tallest in North America when it was constructed, is 287-ft above the city’s skyline.
What did we miss? If you know a landmark that’s not on the list, let us know.