I’ve been spending a lot of time in my hometown of Frankfort, Kentucky, over the last year and a half. I was up there again for Labor Day weekend, and I took a long walk on Sunday afternoon.
I started at my mom’s house in south Frankfort and headed across the Kentucky River to north Frankfort, which is dotted with important historic sites and stunning architecture.
Frankfort is in the midst of its first-ever branding effort, and it’s hard to imagine any study that doesn’t emphasize both history and beauty.
There are some obvious directions that Frankfort’s branding effort could go. The city is an important hub for American distilleries (I’m sure the rebranding folks took note of recent New York Times coverage of the Bourbon Trail), and, as the seat of state government, Frankfort has a vibrant present and promising future, even if the countywide population hovers around 50,000.
I got a better appreciation of Frankfort’s brand during and after a family reunion in June. Downtown Frankfort has so much unrealized potential — both for residents and for visitors. Increasing the number of apartments/condos/homes is critical to the long-term health of downtown, and Frankfort seems like a logical place for a mini-boom in tourism if the one downtown hotel can consistently meet modern tourists’ standards and if the city does a better job of marketing destinations like the State Capitol, the Old State Capitol, Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, the Frankfort Cemetery (which doesn’t even have a real website), Fort Hill, the state’s Vietnam memorial, Buffalo Trace Distillery (which does a pretty good job marketing itself already), and outdoor excursions like Canoe Kentucky. Frankfort is also less than an hour’s drive from both Lexington and Louisville, so there are obviously ways to capitalize on that proximity. (Btw, that’s not an attempt to provide a comprehensive list at all.)
Downtown Frankfort is also a pretty remarkable place just to wander around.
This series of photos begins with the old arsenal, now the really nice Kentucky Military History Museum, looming over the Kentucky River. From there the route follows primarily West Main Street, which needs to be made 2-way, and Broadway. I could go on and on about some of the buildings here — including a couple of architectural fails near the end — but I’ll leave it at that.