Manfred G. Reid Sr. can clearly describe the glory days, and the economic decline, since he moved with his family to Park DuValle when he was 8 years old.
“This section of the city supported a strong work force,” says Reid, who has served as Board Chairman of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority since 2000. “The state fairgrounds was in Chickasaw, there was Fontaine Ferry Park. You had flourishing activity among people who invested in the West End, and the shops, grocery stores and other commercial needs.
“It was exciting. When I was a kid, about 16-17, I worked on Fourth Street, and would always walk down Walnut Street (now Muhammad Ali Boulevard) because of the lively activity. What you could see and learn as a teen – it was laced with theaters, services that we needed.”
Of course, Reid also saw the economic decline in his neighborhood, and he has devoted much of his life to improving the lives of residents, especially in housing.
In 2017, he was honored for his decades of service with the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award, presented by Metro Louisville government.
“Manfred Reid Sr. is a man of character, a man of ideas and a man of action,” Mayor Greg Fischer said when he presented the award. ”He believes firmly in the need to nurture resident leadership, and he holds himself and his community to very high standards on that score.”
Reid graduated from Central High School and Kentucky State University, and began his real estate career in 1963. Today he lives in Beecher Terrace, and his four grown children all live in Louisville. His activism helped the city redevelop public housing projects.
“When you compare housing that we lived in 60-70 years ago to housing today, that’s a step upward in terms of quality of life,” he says. “But the deterioration of our community in terms of the economy, or how the economy affected our lives, has gone down. And we’ve got to rebuild that part of the West End.”
He is optimistic for the West End’s future. A member of the Passport Board of Directors, Reid believes the company’s construction of its headquarters on West Broadway will be transformative.
“Passport’s investment will complete rejuvenate Broadway,” he says. “It will be a whole different picture than the way it looks today. The number of jobs will provide hope and inspiration generationally. It will go on far into the future.”