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'
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.
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
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.
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
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 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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Kentucky is also the home of:
The first electric trolley
The one and only, patented,
registered Derby PieŽ
The original rolled oyster
The first cheeseburger (1934)
World's Center for Braille
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,
Taylor (1784-1850) had grown up in Louisville and is buried in Zachary
Taylor cemetery in Louisville.
Famous figures who call Louisville home:
Mary T. Meagher
Pee Wee Reese
Whitney Young, Jr.
See My Louisville
Photo Gallery HERE