Arts and Culture Commentary

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.

Cars on the street with McDonalds in the background.1Mesa Iyabo Serikali

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.

Outside of self service car wash with yellow sign.Mesa Iyabo Serikali

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.

Outside of Sam's chicken joint.Mesa Iyabo Serikali

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.

Outside of White Castle.Mesa Iyabo Serikali
Small building with American Nail salon sign on it.Mesa Iyabo Serikali

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.

Wide shot of playground in park.Mesa Iyabo Serikali

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.

Basketball hoop in park with kids in the distance.Mesa Iyabo Serikali
View of front porch with column in front of front door.Mesa Iyabo Serikali

My grandmother’s porch at sunset.

Wide shot of house in tree covered yard at sunset.Mesa Iyabo Serikali
Wide shot of small house in tree covered yard.Mesa Iyabo Serikali

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.

Apparently abandoned house in overgrown yard.Mesa Iyabo Serikali

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.

Photo of two men adding lighter fluid to a charcoal grill.Mesa Iyabo Serikali

Barbecue in the west is a favorite smell, especially on a sunny day over 75 degrees.

Jefferson and 28th cross street signs with house in the background.Mesa Iyabo Serikali

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.