If you’ve done any amount of driving in the Crescent Hill area, you’ve likely driven up or down the bumpy slope connecting Grinstead Drive to Frankfort Avenue known as the Peterson Avenue Hill.
The 603-ft by 30-ft cobblestone incline — part of South Peterson Avenue — is one of the last remaining brick streets in Derby City. While the drive is short, its history is not.
So, next time your car wheels hit the bricks of the Peterson Avenue Hill, let it jolt you back in time and think of these three historical pit stops about the avenue listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
📍 A road is born
Peterson Avenue was constructed in 1902 with vitrified bricks laid at an angle in a sand base for traction. It was built as the Peterson-Dumesnil House estate was divided into the growing Crescent Hill neighborhood. Named after Joseph Peterson, the prominent tobacco salesman who built the Peterson-Dumesnil home some time between 1869-1870, the avenue was laid just west of the house’s original driveway.
The angling of the brick on the street is the only one of its kind still in existence in Louisville today.
📍 An oral tradition
Local lore around the hill tells the story of the early 19th century automobile in Louisville. Local car dealers would say their vehicles could take Peterson Hill in high gear, no problem — and many put the claim to test on the street. Legend says the fire department would also use the hill to test its new fire engines.
📍 Becoming a landmark
In 1979, the hill became a local landmark and was officially listed on the National Register Historic of Historic Places in 1980. Today, you can read about the hill’s history via the small blue, ceramic tiles laid into a cement wall about halfway up the slope.
Do you know of another cobblestone road in the city we should check out next? Tell us where.