Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Did you know about the Chicken Steps in the historic neighborhood of Clifton here in Louisville, Kentucky? Today, the Chicken Steps provide pedestrians and local residents a means to traverse the steep cliff without having to take an inconvenient and time consuming detour around. However, back when they were first built one of the main uses was for locals to easily collect their chickens after the flocks would descend down the cliff to graze in the field below.
The Clifton neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky is one of the most notably unique neighborhoods in the city, and it certainly has its fair share of surprises. One of which is the Chicken Steps! It's a large stairway and ramp that provides pedestrians and local residents a means to traverse the steep cliff between Brownsboro Rd and Vernon Ave.
Currently, the steps are made from sturdy concrete complete with handrails on either side that follow all the way up and down the stairway. Locals use it to easily access the CVS Pharmacy and other nearby shops and locations. The Chicken Steps were originally made from wood sometime in the late 1800s, and was upgraded to concrete with handrails added sometime around 1972.
Legend has it The Chicken Steps got its name because it was the perfect place for the local resident's chickens to roost, so there would be chickens all over the area a lot of the time. One of the reasons the steps were constructed in the first place was to combat a unique problem - Houses were constructed atop the steep limestone cliffs that surround the Ohio River and floodplain, and many of the residents raised chickens, who would glide down the cliff to graze on the grassy fields below. However, there was no way for the chickens to get back up the cliffs on their own, so owners would have to walk all the way around to get to the bottom to collect their chickens, and all the way back up. When you consider this, it makes perfect sense why the Chicken Steps would be constructed.
While we were there, we noticed that most of the plants growing alongside the stairway was invasive honeysuckle; hardly any native plants grow here, meaning it doesn't really benefit local wildlife or the surrounding ecosystem very much. How cool would it be if instead, there were all kinds of songbirds and local wildlife eating from colorful Spicebush or awesome Paw Paw trees? It would not only make this amazing place even more awesome, but have a huge impact on the surrounding environment and help endangered pollinators survive in this little oasis! Just something to consider.
If you're in the area, we highly recommend checking out the Chicken Steps. We are truly lucky to live in an area with such interesting and quirky historically valuable locations.
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