21st Century Parks

Great cities have great parks. As cities grow, citizens of the 21st century deserve great public parks in or near their neighborhoods, providing accessible recreation, contemplation, and an enhanced quality of life. Founded in 2004, 21st Century Parks is a private nonprofit corporation created to bring fresh vision to the development and preservation of new public parklands. Their current project, The Parklands of Floyds Fork, in eastern and southeastern Louisville, is one of the nation’s largest new metropolitan parks projects.

Floyds Fork is a tributary of the Salt River (which drains into the Ohio River), running 27 miles through the eastern and southeastern portions of Jefferson County, Kentucky. It is the largest watershed in Louisville, and one which, formerly rural, is now undergoing rapid residential and commercial development. Working with strategic partners, Louisville Metro government and the nonprofit Future Fund, 21st Century Parks has acquired nearly 4,000 acres of new parkland in the Floyds Fork watershed for a systemic, world-class addition to the Louisville Park System called The Parklands of Floyds Fork. Simply stated, 21st Century Parks has purchased land ahead of development, and applied legal protections that assure public access and use in perpetuity.

Mission Statement

21st Century Parks serves as stewards entrusted to preserve and sustain unexcelled parklands that reflect the needs and values of our whole community.

Louisville’s Legacy — A City of Parks

In the early 1890s, Frederick Law Olmsted came to Kentucky to design one of his masterpieces: the Louisville parks system. Working on lands located well beyond the edge of the city, Olmsted created a ring of parks and parkways that remains one of Louisville’s most remarkable assets. As the city grew around these parks in the early twentieth century, they perfectly encapsulated Olmsted’s vision of “bringing nature into neighborhoods” as a way of shaping a city’s geography, its social interactions, and its economies. Today, these urban parks create some of the most livable neighborhoods in the nation.

Lessons Today

21st Century Parks exhibits unexcelled design, effective partnerships, and sufficient funding to meet the public’s need for safe, clean, well-maintained parks now and into the future. Olmsted proved that well-designed public parks form the heart of thriving neighborhoods and vibrant cities. Rooted in Louisville’s century-old legacy of parklands designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the mission of 21st Century Parks reflects a passion for Louisville’s parks that includes a respect for both people and nature. 21st Century Parks believes that parks are green infrastructure and that green infrastructure can provide livable communities now and for generations that follow 50-100 years from now.

A New Legacy for the Future

The Parklands of Floyds Fork cuts right through the heart of the last major undeveloped section of Metro Louisville. It preserves a vanishing landscape while creating the finest urban edge in the country. 21st Century Parks has employed designers of world-class reputation to express a contemporary definition of beauty and function in the Floyds Fork corridor. Now that major construction of The Parklands is completed, 21st Century Parks will orchestrate the long-term maintenance funding to ensure that those parks remain safe, clean, accessible public assets that are well-used and well-loved by present and future generations. This is a legacy project for our community and one that will provide economic, environmental, and community benefits for many years to come.

Core Values

Click here to view a timeline of The Parklands project.


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