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Newtown Pike extension to be renamed Oliver Lewis Way

Tommy Willoughby, left, and Katrina Staggs put the finishing touches on a sidewalk Monday on the Newtown Pike extension near the Maxwell Street intersection.
Tommy Willoughby, left, and Katrina Staggs put the finishing touches on a sidewalk Monday on the Newtown Pike extension near the Maxwell Street intersection.

Oliver Lewis Way is the new name for the Newtown Pike extension, Mayor Jim Newberry announced Monday.

Lewis was a black jockey who won the first Kentucky Derby in 1875, astride Aristides.

"Many know the name of the first horse to win the Derby, but few know Oliver Lewis," Newberry said in a news release. He said the road name gives Lexington an opportunity to recognize Lewis' accomplishment and the contributions that the local black community has made to the racing industry.

Little is known about Lewis. He was a native Lexingtonian, born in 1856. He is buried in African Cemetery No. 2 on Seventh Street.

The name Oliver Lewis Way, suggested by Lexington resident Julie Galbraith, was chosen in a contest in which citizens submitted ideas for a name. A committee narrowed the 168 submitted names to five finalists, and the public voted for their favorites.

Oliver Lewis Way garnered 2,487 of 4,099 votes. The runner-up was Mary Todd Lincoln Boulevard, with 1,033 votes.

Enhanced 911 regulations prevented the road from being named "Newtown Pike Extension," the city said.

Galbraith, a retired elementary school teacher, said she was "just tickled to death" to learn that the name she submitted was the winner.

She said she has always been interested in racing, and she began doing some research along those lines to try to come up with a name to submit for the contest.

She said what she learned led her to suggest Oliver Lewis Way because his contribution to racing history is noteworthy but not very widely recognized.

"There are some African-American jockeys that are well known, but I'd never heard of him," Galbraith said.

A formal ribbon-cutting for the first phase of the extension project will be Sept. 8.

The first phase of Oliver Lewis Way, a four-lane boulevard with bike lanes, runs from West Main Street, where Newtown Pike now ends, to Versailles Road.

The next phase of the project will take the extension to Broadway. A second road — along where Scott Street runs now — will continue on to South Limestone Street, making the extension a gateway to the University of Kentucky.

The project also incorporates neighborhood revitalization, including new housing opportunities, in the Davis Bottoms community.

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