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Louisville Urbanist Branden Klayko Loved Alleys. Now One Will Bear His Name

Patrick Piuma

To many, alleys are hidden, even forgotten, features of a city. To Branden Klayko, the beloved writer and urban design enthusiast who died last year, they were an element to be celebrated. He did this often on his well-known blog, Broken Sidewalk.

And on Saturday, the Klayko family will unveil signs marking an alley in Butchertown named in Branden's honor.

His younger sister Blair Klayko said the family took care to choose an alley in a neighborhood Branden found interesting, with brick paving and a carriage house. She said her family is touched by the city’s recognition of his urbanism work, as well as the community’s support for the naming.

Klayko said remembering Branden in this way is fitting. She recalled a speech her brother gave in 2012 called “In Defense of Alleyways.”

“He said, ‘The first step in reclaiming an alley is to give the alley a name and that gives those spaces an identity and a familiarity,’” Klayko said.

She described her brother as a person notable for his regard for detail, and someone who thought all alleys, streets and corners deserved care and attention.

“I would hope that if someone stumbled upon Branden Klayko Alley that they would eventually find out that my brother was, first and foremost, a curious mind,” Klayko said. “Rather than perceiving the world as what it was, he would ask, ‘What can it be?’”

If visitors to the alley learn about Branden's curious and thoughtful nature, they too may start to perceive the world the way he did, Klayko said.

Louisville architect and historian Steve Wiser was a friend of Branden Klayko's. Wiser said strengthening and improving the inner city through projects like Broken Sidewalk was a focus for Branden.

“He just thought it was a missed opportunity that alleys were not being fully utilized the way they should, so he focused a lot of attention on it, trying to encourage residential and business development along alleys and trying to strengthen the inner city,” Wiser said.

Branden Klayko died in June 2017 at the age of 33, following a battle with leukemia and diagnosis of graft-versus-host disease. His blog was a must-read for Louisvillians who appreciated his insights into the city’s changing face over the years that he wrote it.

The Klayko family will unveil Branden Klayko Alley — which extends from N. Hancock St. to N. Wenzel St. between Franklin St. and E. Washington St. — Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at the corner of N. Shelby St.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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