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Photo Essay: Broadway Past Ninth — A series on the remnants of the past.

Mesa Iyabo Serikali's god brother, Christopher, at the vacant lot where his house used to stand. When it burned down, it caught my family's house on fire.
Mesa Iyabo Serikali
Mesa Iyabo Serikali's god brother, Christopher, at the vacant lot where his house used to stand. When it burned down, it caught my family's house on fire.

This photo essay is featured in the “Home” issue of  Louisville Magazine produced in partnership with  Louisville Public Media.

I went back to my neighborhood, went back to West Broadway, to document the longstanding buildings and corners that have been landmarks of what I see when I imagine my beginnings in life — to explore the environment of home and the transitions of a neighborhood through time. Abandoned, under-construction and remodeled landmarks.

Some things remain, others have disappeared. This project captures the skeletons and metamorphosis I see in west Louisville. While time will take its toll, I will always remember these places as they once were, even when they are not around anymore.

The Crystal Clean Car Wash’s bright-yellow marker, at 17th and Broadway, always told me I was home. It has stayed a car wash for as long as I can remember. These buildings and signs become almost living and breathing, transforming with us as we grow.

The local, neighborhood chicken joint, along with the oldest White Castle I’ve known, at Seventh and Broadway, with nostalgia on the walls. My mother remembers coming here as a child. These are the places that are changing right before us, but so slightly.

American Nails, with its sign fading but still standing. I have never been inside for a manicure but have walked past it on the way home countless times. It stands out among the neutral-gray government buildings. Sheppard Park in the Russell neighborhood, on Magazine Street between 16th and 17th streets. Every Sunday, my cousins and siblings and I would play in this park. We lived right on the corner, so it was far enough away where we felt like we could explore on our own. Flying off swings and falling off monkey bars transitioned into smoke breaks and going on walks. I skinned my knee in that park. I had my first kiss in that park. My grandmother’s porch at sunset. My grandmother’s last neighbor lived here. Ms. Carter was her name. No one has lived in this house for over 10 years, but time still grows around it. My childhood home and backyard. The home caught fire in 2016. I never anticipated not having anything to physically come back to. Letting go of the past is a process. Artifacts from home fade away — in memory and in their physical state. I guess this is supposed to come with growing older. Home changes, and that’s OK. Grieving the past is OK, but don’t forget to make room for the future because one day you’ll miss those things too. Barbecue in the west is a favorite smell, especially on a sunny day over 75 degrees. The weeping willow at 28th and Jefferson has always been there to remind me to breathe. Why do weeping willows always seem as though they are breathing with us, moving with us?

Tell us — what does home mean to you? We hope you’ll take a few minutes to reflect and  answer these questions.

Gabrielle Jones is the Vice President of Content at LPM. Email Gabrielle at gjones@lpm.org.

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