the Smoketown neighborhood in Louisville got its name from the many kilns used in brickmaking. Several brickyards were located in the area in the early 1800s, though by 1880 the clay supply had dried up and the brickyards closed down. Today Smoketown is known for being one of the few continually predominant black communities in Louisville. It became a National Historic Place in 1997.
Though at first there was many German immigrants that had developed the area by the 1850s, that changed after the Civil War. The year 1865 saw an influx of freed African American slaves from rural Kentucky. As a result the white population moved out and by 1870 the neighborhood was entirely black. The population was about 15,000 by 1880. Times were tough for the community as few residents owned their shotgun houses, instead renting them from white landowners.
Though times and unemployment in the area has caused a decline since the 1950s, the sharpest being during the 1960s when many of the homes were torn down to make room for housing projects. As of 2000 the population is only 2,116 residents.
As with many of the older neighborhoods around Louisville, Smoketown is in the middle of a revitalization. In 2011 the city received as $22 million dollar Hope IV award with the plans of demolishing the Sheppard Square housing projects to make room for new housing developments. Several homes have already been built and they are hoping to be complete by 2015. One hope of the city and neighborhood is that this new development will make the area safer and more attractive to businesses to help build up the area economically.