A small neighborhood in northern Frankfort, Kentucky, Crawfish Bottom was located on fifty acres of swampy land along the Kentucky River. “Craw’s” reputation for vice, violence, moral corruption, and unsanitary conditions made it a target for urban renewal projects that replaced the neighborhood with the city’s Capital Plaza in the mid-1960s.
Douglas A. Boyd’s Crawfish Bottom: Recovering a Lost Kentucky Community traces the evolution of the controversial community that ultimately saw four-hundred families displaced. Using oral histories and firsthand memories, Boyd not only provides a record of a vanished neighborhood and its culture but also demonstrates how this type of study enhances the historical record. A former Frankfort police officer describes Craw’s residents as a “rough class of people, who didn’t mind killing or being killed.” In Crawfish Bottom, the former residents of Craw acknowledge the popular misconceptions about their community but offer a richer and more balanced view of the past.
Douglas A. Boyd, director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky, is a coeditor of Community Memories: A Glimpse of African American Life in Frankfort, Kentucky.
“Urban planners seldom listened to the communities they bulldozed, but oral history can recapture the historical memory of what has been lost. Crawfish Bottom provides a vivid and layered history of the colorful community that once existed on the banks of the Kentucky River, in the words of its inhabitants and in a critical analysis of their interviews.”—Donald A. Ritchie, author of Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide
“Crawfish Bottom is a fascinating story well told. By combining narrative skills with sound theory and original methodology in his use of oral and archival sources, Boyd revives the memory and narrative of a community that was wiped out in the name of progress.”—Alessandro Portelli, author of They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History