Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky's largest city, is located on the banks of the Ohio River in northern Kentucky. Louisville has a population of about 1.2 million people but following our merger with Jefferson County in January of 2003, we will boost our population to around 2 million and become the 16th largest city in the United States.

Louisville is located at latitude 38 14' 47" and longitude 85 45' 49".

Many cobble-stoned streets can still be found in Louisville. Many of the cobblestones are said to have been originally used as ballast on early ships.

Horse-drawn carriages, motorized trolleys, and city busses provide downtown transportation.

Louisville Attractions

Waterfront Park: One of Louisville's newest and brightest attractions is the beautiful waterfront park. The park offers wonderful vistas of the Ohio River near downtown Louisville. Offering walking paths, bike trails, benches, playgrounds, fountains, sculptures, scenic overlooks, a marina, and a popular gathering place for concerts and special events including the annual Thunder Over Louisville fireworks and air show. Phase two of the park is under construction which greatly expand the park and add a amphitheater and a walking path up to, and across the old "Big Four" railroad bridge to Jeffersonville, Indiana.

The Belle of Louisville, the oldest Mississippi-style sternwheeler in the country, still cruises the Ohio. Each May, as part of the annual Derby Festival, the Belle of Louisville participates in the "Great Steamboat Race" with two or three other steamboats such as the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen.

The Kentucky Center for the Arts showcases theater, ballet, orchestra, opera, and a variety of other national and regional productions in three theaters. Among other concerts and performances, the Center For The Arts serves as the main stage for the annual International Bluegrass Festival.

Louisville Science Center offers participatory exhibits, living history, and the IMAX Theater.

The internationally acclaimed, Tony-award winning Actors Theatre of Louisville features performances from its location in a designated National Historic Landmark on East Main Street. 

History lives at Farmington (designed by Thomas Jefferson)

Locust Grove (the last home of General George Rogers Clark) where special activities and tours are offered for visitors throughout the year.

Louisville's newest interpreted home is the majestic Farnsley-Moremen house at Riverside Landing. This Civil War-era home is fully restored and includes a multi-use Visitors Center.

Visitors can also delight in the more than 900 animals at the Louisville Zoo. The Zoo's latest addition is the magnificent Gorilla Forest.

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom located adjacent to the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center offers rides, games and shows.

The Louisville Slugger Bat Factory & Museum tour has been named one of the top ten industrial tours in the nation. Part of the working Hillrich and Bradsby Company, tours include viewing the manufacture of the world-famous "Louisville Slugger" bats and golf clubs. Guests are presented with complimentary miniature Louisville Sluggers and full-size, personally inscribed Louisville Sluggers can be purchased. Visitors admire the world largest baseball bat standing at the entrance.

Louisville is known the world over as the home of the "the greatest two minutes in sports"...the Kentucky Derby! The first Saturday in May, Louisville becomes the place to be for celebrities and horse racing enthusiasts from around the world.

The triple-A Louisville Redbirds brought professional baseball back to the city in 1982 and began a string of years of record-breaking attendance. The team is now known as the Bats and play in a magnificent new new stadium on Main street in downtown Louisville. Slugger Field is arguably the finest minor league ballpark in the country.

Louisville is proud to be the home of the 2002 Little League World Champs and the city went all out celebrating the accomplishments of these outstanding young men.

The new Louisville Skatepark is a fantastic facility that quickly achieved nationwide acclaim as one of the finest skateboard, rollerblade, and biking facilities anywhere.

The area's racing fans are thrilled with the opening of the Kentucky Speedway about 65 miles north of Louisville.  This fantastic facility was designed with the fans in mind and with considerable input from Darrrel Waltrip. The entire track is actually below stand level so every seat in the house offers a good view the entire track. The 1.5 mile superspeedway is host to annual ARCA, Busch Grand National, and CART races along with other special events. There  is also a 1/4 mile "Lengends" oval in the infield. The track quickly became a favorite of race car teams and many NASCAR teams use the facility for testing. Personally, I think it is only a matter of time before they land a spot on the Winston Cup NASCAR schedule.

Louisville is only 80 west of Lexington, 100 miles south of Indianapolis, and 100 miles southwest of Cincinnati so there are many more neighboring attractions within a two-hour drive.

Louisville History

Although explorers and surveyors had visited the site of Louisville earlier (most notably in 1773), the city began its continuous civic life in May, 1778, for two very specific reasons: The River and the Revolution. The Ohio was (and remains) one of the major rivers of the continent: longer than the Rhine or the Seine. In its entire 981 mile length, it had only one navigational barrier: the Falls, opposite to what is now downtown Louisville. This area is a national ecological treasure whose ancient fossil mysteries, spanning back millions of years, are wonderfully unraveled at the recently opened Falls of the Ohio Park.

Kentucky would remain part of the Old Dominion until 1792 when it achieved statehood and became the first western star in the American flag. It was as Governor of Virginia that Thomas Jefferson signed the first town charter of Louisville in 1780. Across the river, the land that is now southern Indiana was technically part of Canada, by action of the British government's Quebec Act of 1774. To these frontier lands, Virginia's Governor Patrick Henry dispatched George Rogers Clark, the "George Washington of the West," to break the back of British resistance in the vast area.

Clark set up his base of operations near the Falls, on the now submerged Corn Island, close by the foot of Twelfth Street on May 27, 1778. With his hardy band of men, Clark helped to gain the area that was to become the nation's Midwest for the American cause. In quick succession, three forts were constructed here to house Clark's troops and their families, the last being Fort Nelson in 1781, near today's intersection of Seventh and Main. With the end of the Revolutionary War, settlers tentatively moved out of the protective stockade, and the rough young town began to rise. (Photo: Fort Nelson)

Louisville, which had been named for King Louis XVI of France in gratitude for French aid in the Revolution, grew very slowly at first. It suffered through occasional floods, malarial-type infections, and the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812. Not until 1828 (with a population of nearly 10,000) did Louisville get around to its official incorporation as a city.

Louisville Dates In History

1811 - The arrival of the first steamboat in Louisville in 1811 signaled a new age of growth.

1830 - With river traffic greatly improved, the opening of the Portland Canal in 1830,

1837 - The University of Louisville was established

1840's - Large inflow of German and Irish immigrants grants 

1850- The city population began to explode, reaching 43,000 in 1850, placing Louisville among the top twelve cities in size in America, larger than either Washington or Chicago. In that same year, Indiana's largest city was New Albany, just across the river from Louisville.

1859 - The mighty L & N Railroad, which opened to Nashville, making the city the rail-head for the entire South. 

1875 - Churchill Downs opened and introduced the Kentucky Derby 

1877 - The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 

1884 - The Filson Club was established

1890 - The Olmstead park system was created and includes Cherokee, Seneca, Iriquois, and Shawnee parks. Louisville offers more parklands per capita than any other U.S. city!

Louisville had been among the first eight teams in baseball's new National League.

1900 - When the twentieth century began, Louisville's population had passed the 200,000 mark, a doubling in a single generation. In 1900, Louisville was still among the nation's twenty largest cities, twice as large as Los Angeles and Atlanta; and four times bigger than Dallas or Houston.

WWI - During the First World War, the city's fortune seemed for a time to reverse. The city landed Camp Taylor, one of fifteen major military training centers to be built in America. With the construction of this facility for 50,000 men, new economic life was pumped into the area. Yet the camp proved something of a Trojan-Horse gift to the city. For it was there that the terrible influenza of 1918 made one of its first major inroads into Louisville. Over 800 died on the post, and over 900 others in the city. This last figure represented three times the number of Louisville-area soldiers who had perished in the Great War.

WWII - During World War II Bowman Field was the busiest airport in the country, following an investment of one million dollars for construction of barracks and other facilities on the site, including nine mess halls. At that time, thousands of members of the military called Bowman Field and Louisville their temporary home while undergoing combat readiness training. The already cramped airfield added more troops in 1943, when Glider Pilot Combat Training opened. The gliders, which carried 15 troops each into combat, were a familiar sight in the Louisville skies during the last two years of the war.

Louisville, Kentucky is also the home of:

  • The first electric trolley
  • The one and only, patented, registered Derby PieŽ
  • The original rolled oyster (1884)
  • The first cheeseburger (1934)
  • World's Center for Braille printing
  • One of the biggest basketball rivalries in the country: University of Kentucky Wildcats and University of Louisville Cardinals
  • Thunder Over Louisville, the nation's largest annual pyrotechnics display
  • The Falls Fountain, the world's largest floating fountain! (Now removed)
  • With the possible exception of national anthems, the world's most frequently sung song was written by two Louisvillians. Two sisters from Louisville, Mildred and Patricia Hill, wrote "Happy Birthday To You".

  • The twelfth President of the United States, Zachary Taylor (1784-1850) had grown up in Louisville and is buried in Zachary Taylor cemetery in Louisville.

Famous figures who call Louisville home:

Muhammad Ali
Pat Day
Paul Hornung
Mary T. Meagher
Bobby Nichols
Pee Wee Reese
Phil Simms
Danny Sullivan
Fuzzy Zoeller
Ned Beatty
Tom Cruise
Sue Grafton
Marsha Norman
Hunter Thompson
Whitney Young, Jr.

See My Louisville Photo Gallery HERE


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