The success of the Big Four Bridge allowed for the city to develop surrounding areas and amenities. The Fisherman’s Wharf and marina on Jeffersonville’s riverfront are prime examples. Staff photo by Tyler Stewart
The success of the Big Four Bridge allowed for the city to develop surrounding areas and amenities. The Fisherman’s Wharf and marina on Jeffersonville’s riverfront are prime examples. Staff photo by Tyler Stewart
JEFFERSONVILLE — For Mayor Mike Moore and his constituents, this week back in May 2014 will always be remembered fondly.

Five years ago, Jeffersonville officially opened a site that would significantly alter the cityscape and the activities that took place within it — the Big Four Bridge.

"It's a day I'll never forget," Moore said. "It was just packed with anticipation and excitement. I recall walking up to the bridge with my kids and hundreds of people from Louisville and hundreds of people from Jeffersonville. I remember meeting up there with the mayor of Louisville and the pandemonium that goes along with that. It was a great day, and probably a day people here will never forget."

Since the walking bridge connected both sides of the river, Jeffersonville has become much more accessible to Louisville residents and a destination site for those visiting from elsewhere. An effect of the accessibility has been growth previously unseen in the city, and Moore attributes much of it to the presence of Big Four.

The bridge, he said, has allowed the city to branch out and add things like new restaurants and entertainment venues.

"It's had a huge impact on the city," Moore said. "It's made our quaint little hometown appreciated by people who may have never discovered it otherwise. We've added 13 new restaurants within three blocks of the bridge. We've become a destination spot. Being across the bridge from Louisville, it's made Jeffersonville that much more accessible. You see all the growth around the bridge. It's bringing in families. It's given us things like the Fisherman's Wharf and the new marina."

Going further, the improvements to the city have made it a popular site for festivals and outdoor events, such as Abbey Road on the River, which is set to take place this week.

Now that the downtown area has become a buzzing site for such activities, once abandoned buildings have become occupied and, in turn, made the city an increasingly safe place, according to Moore.

"Everything that has been generated has given us a boom in the economy," Moore said. "We've seen a beautification of downtown, and we've brought in new arts and cultural events. From all of that, we've actually become safer. Downtown is now a very safe place to walk with your family and go to dinner. When you think back to what we had prior to the bridge, there was not much activity out there after 5 p.m. There were a lot of rundown buildings, and crime was a problem. When you see beauty and put a police presence, it boosts pride and ownership."

Moore said the resulting effects of Big Four in the city have exceeded his expectations in bringing new life to the city. One of the best examples of this, he added, was the success of local businesses like Parlour Pizza, which sits directly across the street from bridge's entry point.

What was once a struggling bed and breakfast was auctioned off before eventually becoming home to the popular eatery.

"We had just nonstop traffic from being the new business in town," kitchen manager Todd McAlister said of Parlour's opening. "From there, the next year or two was a big learning experience as far as keeping our numbers. We got our bearings in year two and really honed in what we were doing. We got all of our routines in place and ironed out."

McAlister credited foot traffic from the bridge for giving a boost to the restaurant's patronage. Its proximity to events held in the park, of course, have helped, too.

"We get constant bridge traffic," McAlister said. "It's kind of hard to predict when you see a huge crowd coming across. Year three, where we're at right now, is looking to be the best year we've had. We're constantly beating numbers every day. It's definitely grown a lot. We have more and more regulars coming back, even for Abbey Road. We had about 20 or 30 couples from last year that said they were going to return again. That's pretty awesome. It's definitely taken us by surprise. We never could've expected it to be what is and what it's grown to be."
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