In the late 18th century, Lexington was defined as a large circle, divided into quadrants, with the courthouse at its center. The third or east quadrant became known as the East End.
Largely unsettled until after the Civil War, development took off as freed blacks moved into cities and needed places to live. In the century that followed, the East End was home to many of the city's most prominent black institutions, businesses and families. Black commercial and social life in the region revolved around Third and DeWeese streets.
When segregation lost its grip on housing patterns, many middle-class professional people moved elsewhere. Retail declined, absentee landlords became common, as did both poverty and crime.
They have persisted despite public investment in the East End — the revitalization of the Lyric Theatre, the Hope VI housing development and the new elementary school there — and development of a plan for the area .
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The Herald-Leader, perched across Midland Avenue from the East End, has seen the area's promise and challenges.
There is legitimate fear that "fixing" the East End means losing the history and culture that are unique to it.
But that fear must be balanced against the reality that the East End, like most Lexington neighborhoods, is becoming more diverse, and that outside investment is essential to a more prosperous future.
We've found many who are deeply committed to the neighborhood but are often at odds or — even worse — not communicating with each other.
So we invited several to share their observations and visions in these pages. We hope these voices will begin a conversation that can help define a way forward.
East End Demographic breakdown
East End to Lexington Comparison for 2010
|East End||Rest of Lexington|
|Older than 65 present||20||18.8|
|Occupied by renter||57.8||42.2|
|Households without vehicle access||45.8||8.9|
|Household income less than $25,000||53.5||27.7|
|Families under poverty line in past year||30.5||11.1|
|No high school diploma or GED||33||10.8|
|Mean household income||$31,427||$69,703|
|Source: U.S. Census data compiled by Jesse Stephenson|