’37 Flood Exhibit Draws Big Crowds

Flood Aerial

Aerial view of downtown Louisville during the 1937 flood.

I have never seen so many gallery visitors! Of course I haven’t even been working here for very long, but still, our current exhibit in the Photographic Archives is getting anywhere from 15 to 50+ visitors a day!  “Louisville’s 1937 Flood: A 75th Anniversary Exhibition” includes 39 photographs showing Louisville’s historic flood of the Ohio River that submerged 70% of Louisville and 90% of Jeffersonville, IN, as well as locations up and down the river from Pennsylvania to Illinois. Photographs by well-known photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White, who was sent by Life Magazine to shoot views of the flood in Louisville, show a range of scenes from a man on an improvised boat made of washtubs, to water-damaged and discarded pianos sitting in a street. And of course, Bourke-White’s famous “World’s Highest Standard of Living” photograph is most recognizable.

Margaret Bourke-White

Margaret Bourke-White shooting photographs of the flood from the roof of a car.

Photos by Corwin Short, the Louisville native who was Bourke-White’s escort during her trip, show the famous photojournalist at work: standing atop a car with her camera, walking the pontoon bridge, and eating lunch on a rowboat. Visitors have also been amazed at the aerial photographs on display that show the far-reaching devastation caused by the flood water. These photos were donated to the archive in 2010 and have never been exhibited here before.

Apparently, the Great Flood is still a big deal to Louisville residents, even 75 years later. It has been quite a learning experience, as many of the gallery visitors are eager to share with us their personal and family stories of the flood. In fact, there is a group of people sitting in the gallery sharing their stories with each other right now!

These photographs will be up until this Friday, March 9th, so hurry down to see them before they’re gone.

One Comment on “’37 Flood Exhibit Draws Big Crowds”

  1. Jennie Cole says:

    Congrats on such a successful exhibit, Reilly!

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