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Louisville (usually ; see Pronunciation below) is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentuckymarker, and the county seat of Jefferson Countymarker. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's estimated population as of 2008 was 713,877 (consolidated; balance total is 557,224), with a population of 1,244,696 in the Louisville metropolitan areamarker. An important internal shipping port in the 19th century, Louisville is today most well known for the Kentucky Derby, the widely watched first race of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.

Louisville is situated on the Ohio River in north-central Kentucky at the Falls of the Ohio. Because it includes counties in Southern Indiana, the Louisville metropolitan area is often referred to as Kentuckiana. The river forms the border between Kentucky and Indiana. A resident of Louisville is referred to as a Louisvillian. Although situated in a Southern state, Louisville is influenced by both Southern and Midwestern culture. It is sometimes referred to as either the northernmost Southern city or the southernmost Northern city in the United States.

The settlement that became the City of Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark and is named after King Louis XVI of France.

Nomenclature, population and ranking

As of the 2000 Census, Louisville had a population of 256,231. On November 7, 2000, voters in Louisville and Jefferson Countymarker approved a referendum to merge into a consolidated city-county government named Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government (official long form) and Louisville Metro (official short form), which took effect January 6, 2003.

The 2008 U.S. Census Bureau estimated population figures for Louisville are 713,877 for the consolidated Louisville-Jefferson County (17th largest in the nation); and 557,224 for the Louisville-Jefferson County balance (30th largest). The "balance" is a designation created by the Census Bureau to describe the portion of Louisville-Jefferson County that does not include any of the semi-independent separately incorporated places located within Louisville Metro (such as Anchoragemarker, Middletownmarker or Jeffersontownmarker). Census methodology uses balance values in comparing consolidated cities to other cities for ranking purposes.

As of 2008, the Louisville metropolitan areamarker (MSA) (not to be confused with Louisville Metro), had an estimated population of 1,244,696 ranking 42nd nationally. The metro area includes Louisville-Jefferson County and 12 surrounding counties, eight in Kentucky and four in Southern Indiana (see Geography below). The Louisville Combined Statistical Area, having an estimated population of 1,380,591, includes the MSA, Hardin Countymarker and Larue County in Kentucky, and Scott County, Indianamarker.


The Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau displays many of the common pronunciations of the city's name on its logo.
Most natives of Louisville pronounce the city's name . The pronunciation , however, is often used by political leaders and the media. No matter how Louisville is pronounced, the "s" is silent because "Louis" derives from the French language.

The variability in local pronunciation of the city's name can perhaps be laid at the feet of the city's location on the border between the Northern and Southern regions of the United States. Louisville's diverse population has traditionally represented elements of both Northern and Southern culture.


The history of Louisville spans hundreds of years, and has been influenced by the area's geography and location. The rapids at the Falls of the Ohio created a barrier to river travel, and as a result, settlements grew up at this stopping point.

The first European settlement in the vicinity of modern-day Louisville was on Corn Island in 1778 by Col. George Rogers Clark, credited as the founder of Louisville. Several landmarks in the community are named after him.

Two years later, in 1780, the Virginia General Assemblymarker approved the town charter of Louisville. The city was named in honor of King Louis XVI of France, whose soldiers were then aiding Americans in the Revolutionary War. Early residents lived in forts to protect themselves from Indian raids, but moved out by the late 1780s. In 1803, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark organized their expedition across America in the original town of Clarksville, Indianamarker at the present-day Falls of the Ohio in Louisville.

View of Main Street Louisville in 1846

The city's early growth was influenced by the fact that river boats had to be unloaded and moved downriver before reaching the falls. By 1828, the population had swelled to 7,000 and Louisville became an incorporated city. The city grew rapidly in its formative years.

Louisville had one of the largest slave trades in the United States before the Civil War, and much of the city's initial growth is attributed to that trade. It was a major shipping port and slaves worked in a variety of associated trades. The city was often a point of escape for slaves to the north, as Ohio was a free state. The city's significant black population and location on the Ohio River resulted in its becoming a stop on the Underground Railroad.

During the Civil War Louisville was a major stronghold of Union forces, which kept Kentucky firmly in the Union. It was the center of planning, supplies, recruiting and transportation for numerous campaigns, especially in the Western Theater. By the end of the war, Louisville had not been attacked, although skirmishes and battles, including the battles of Perryvillemarker and Corydonmarker, took place nearby. After Reconstruction, returning Confederate veterans largely took political control of the city, leading to the jibe that Louisville joined the Confederacy after the war was over.

The first Kentucky Derby was held on May 17, 1875, at the Louisville Jockey Club track (later renamed Churchill Downsmarker). The Derby was originally shepherded by Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr.. He was the grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and grandnephew of the city's founder George Rogers Clark. Horse racing had a strong tradition in Kentucky, whose Inner Bluegrass Region had been a center of breeding high quality livestock throughout the 19th century. Ten thousand spectators watched the first Derby, where Aristides won.

On March 27, 1890 the city was devastated and its downtown nearly destroyed when an F4 tornado tore through as part of the Mid-Mississippi Valley Tornado Outbreak of March 1890. An estimated 74 to 120 people were killed. The city quickly recovered and within a year had rebuilt damaged areas.

In late January and February 1937, of rain fell during a month of heavy rain. It caused the "Great Flood of '37". The flood submerged about 70% of the city, caused the loss of power, and forced the evacuation of 175,000 residents. It led to dramatic changes in where residents lived. Today, the city is protected by numerous flood walls. After the flood, the areas of high elevation in the eastern part of the city saw decades of residential growth.

Louisville was a center for factory war production during World War II. In May 1942, the U.S. government assigned the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Company, a war plant located at Louisville's air field, for wartime aircraft production. The factory produced the C-46 Commando cargo plane, among other aircraft. In 1946 the factory was sold to International Harvester Corporation, which began large-scale production of tractors and agricultural equipment.

Similar to many other older American cities, Louisville began to experience a movement of people and businesses to the suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s. Middle class residents used newly built freeways and interstate highways to commute to work, moving into more distant but newer housing. Because of tax laws, businesses found it cheaper to build new rather than renovate older buildings. Economic changes included a decline in local manufacturing. The West End and older areas of the South End, in particular, began to decline economically as many local factories closed.

Entrance to the Fourth Street Live! entertainment complex in Louisville, featuring the marquee of the Hard Rock Cafe
In 1974, a major (F4) tornado hit Louisville as part of the Super Outbreak of tornadoes that struck 13 states. It covered and destroyed several hundred homes in the Louisville area. Only two people died.

Since the 1980s, many of the city's urban neighborhoods have been revitalized into areas popular with young professionals and college students. The greatest change has occurred along the Bardstown Road corridormarker, Frankfort Avenue, and the Old Louisvillemarker neighborhoods. Downtown has had significant residential and retail growth, including the tripling of its population since 1990, the conversion of waterfront industrial sites into Waterfront Parkmarker, and the refurbishing of the former Galleria into the bustling entertainment complex Fourth Street Live!marker.


Hilly terrain blankets the Southwest part of the city
Louisville is located at (38.228870, -85.749534) . According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Louisville Metro (in 2000 measurements for Jefferson Countymarker) has a total area of , of which, of it is land and of it (3.38%) is water.

Louisville is located in the Bluegrass regionmarker. Its development has been influenced by its location on the Ohio River, which spurred Louisville's growth from an isolated camp site into a major shipping port. Much of the city is located on a very wide and flat flood plain surrounded by hill country on all sides. Much of the area was swampland that had to be drained as the city grew. In the 1840s most creeks were rerouted or placed in canals to prevent flooding and disease outbreaks.
New condominium construction along East Main Street
Areas generally east of I-65 are above the flood plain, and are composed of gently rolling hills. The Southernmost parts of Jefferson County are in the scenic and largely undeveloped Knobs region, which is home to Jefferson Memorial Forestmarker.

The Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN Metropolitan Statistical Areamarker (MSA), the 42nd largest in the United States, includes the Kentucky county of Jefferson (coterminous with Louisville Metro), plus twelve outlying counties—eight in Kentucky and four in Southern Indiana.

Louisville's MSA is included in the Louisville-Elizabethtown-Scottsburg, KY-IN Combined Statistical Area (CSA), which also includes the Elizabethtown, KYmarker MSA as well as the Scottsburg, INmarker Micropolitan Statistical Area.


Graph constructed from data located on the NOAA Website.
Louisville has a humid subtropical climate and experiences four seasons. Spring-like conditions typically begin in mid to late March, summer from mid- to late-May to late September, with fall in the October-November period. Seasonal extremes in both temperature and precipitation are not uncommon during early spring and late fall; severe weather is not uncommon, with occasional tornado outbreaks in the region. Winter typically brings a mix of rain, sleet, and snow, with occasional heavy snowfall and icing. Louisville averages 87 days with low temperatures below freezing. Summer is typically hazy, hot, and humid with long periods of 90-100 degree temperatures and drought conditions at times. Louisville averages 31 days a year with high temperatures above 90 degrees. The mean annual temperature is , with an average annual snowfall of 16.4 inches (41 cm) and an average annual rainfall of .

The wettest seasons are spring and summer, although rainfall is fairly constant year round. During the winter, particularly in January and February, several days of snow can be expected. January is the coldest month on average highs of and lows of 25 °F (5 to −4 °C). July is the average hottest month with highs and lows of . The highest recorded temperature was on July 14, 1936, and the lowest recorded temperature was on January 19, 1994. Temperatures in commercial areas and in the industrialized areas along interstates are often higher than in the suburbs, often as much as five degrees Fahrenheit (3 °C) cooler.

Air pollution is trapped in Louisville's Ohio River Valley location. The city is ranked by Environmental Defense as America's 38th worst city for air quality. Louisville also often exemplifies the heat island effect.


The downtown business district of Louisville is located immediately south of the Ohio River, and southeast of the Falls of the Ohio. Major roads extend outwards from the downtown area in all directions, like the spokes of a wheel. The airportmarker is approximately south of the downtown area. The industrial sections of town are to the south and west of the airport, while most of the residential areas of the city are to the southwest, south and east of downtown. The Louisville skyline is slated to be changed with the proposed 62-story Museum Plazamarker as well as a 22,000-seat waterfront arenamarker. Twelve of the 15 buildings in Kentucky over are located in downtown Louisville.

Another primary business and industrial district is located in the suburban area east of the city on Hurstbourne Parkway.

Louisville's late 19th and early 20th century development was spurred by three large suburban parks built at the edges of the city in 1890.

The city's architecture contains a blend of old and new. The Old Louisvillemarker neighborhood is the largest historic preservation district solely featuring Victorian homes and buildings in the United States; it is also the third largest such district overall. There are many modern skyscrapers downtown, as well as older preserved structures. The buildings of West Main Street in downtown Louisville have the largest collection of cast iron facades of anywhere outside of New Yorkmarker's SoHomarker district.

Since the mid-20th century, Louisville has in some ways been divided up into three sides of town: the West End, the South End, and the East End. In 2003, Bill Dakan, a University of Louisvillemarker geography professor, said that the West End, west of 7th Street and north of Algonquin Parkway, is "a euphemism for the African-American part of town" although he points out that this belief is not entirely true, and most African Americans no longer live in areas where more than 80% of residents are black. Nevertheless, he says the perception is still strong. The South End has long had a reputation as a white, working-class part of town, while the East End has been seen as middle and upper class.

According to the Greater Louisville Association of Realtors, the area with the lowest median home sales price is west of Interstate 65, in the West and South Ends, the middle range of home sales prices are between Interstates 64 and 65 in the South and East Ends, and the highest median home sales price are north of Interstate 64 in the East End. Immigrants from Southeast Asia tend to settle in the South End, while immigrants from Eastern Europe settle in the East End.

Government and politics

Louisville Metro is governed by an executive dubbed the Metro Mayor and a city legislature dubbed the Metro Council. The first and current Metro Mayor is Jerry Abramson (D), who was also the longest serving Mayor in the former City of Louisville's history, serving from 1985 to 1998. This has earned him the nickname "Mayor for Life."

The Metro Council consists of 26 seats representing 26 districts apportioned by population throughout the city and county. The residents of the semi-independent municipalities within Louisville Metro are apportioned to districts along with all other county residents. Half (13) of the seats come up for reelection every two years. The council is chaired by a Council President, currently David Tandy (D), who is elected by the council members annually. Democrats currently have a 16 to 10 seat majority on the council.

The Official Seal of the City of Louisville, no longer used following the formation of a consolidated city-county government in 2003, reflected its history and heritage in the fleur-de-lis representing French aid given during the Revolutionary War, and the thirteen stars signifying the original colonies. The new seal of the consolidated government retains the fleur-de-lis, but has only two stars, one representing the city and the other the county.

Kentucky's 3rd congressional districtmarker is roughly coterminous with Louisville Metro, which is represented by Rep. John Yarmuth (D), though some of the southern and southwestern areas of the community are in the 2nd congressional district, which is represented by Brett Guthrie (R).

Public safety and crime

Louisville is has been ranked among the top 10 safest large cities by Morgan Quitno in the past four years. In the 2005 Morgan Quitno survey, the city was ranked as the seventh safest large city in the United States. The 2006 edition of the survey ranked Louisville eighth.

In 2006, Louisville-Jefferson County recorded 50 murders. Louisville's total crime rate was less than half that of most surrounding cities. In 2008, Louisville recorded 79 murders.

The Louisville Metro Area's overall violent crime rate was 412.6 per 100,000 residents in 2005. The Elizabethtown, Kentucky Metro Area, which is part of Louisville's Combined Statistical Area, was the 17th safest Metro in the U.S. Kentucky has the 5th lowest violent crime rate out of the 50 states.

Violent crime is most concentrated west of downtown, especially in the Russellmarker neighborhood. The West End, located north of Algonquin Parkway and West of 9th Street, had 32 of the city's 79 murders in 2007.

The primary law enforcement agencies are the Louisville Metro Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. Emergency medical services are provided by publicly funded Louisville Metro EMS, along with a handful of smaller, quasi-independent services with more area-focused responsibility.

Fire protection, which is not solely a Metro government function, is provided by 20 independent fire departments (most of which are autonomous taxing districts) working in concert through mutual aid agreements. The only fire department operated by metro government is the Louisville Division of Fire (formerly Louisville Fire & Rescue, before city merger in 2003). The independent City of Shivelymarker in western Jefferson County is a city-run department. The other 18 fire departments in Louisville Metro are known collectively as the Jefferson County Fire Service.


Note: All demographics, unless otherwise stated, are the same as that of Jefferson County, Kentuckymarker, which merged with the former City of Louisville on January 6, 2003.

The L and N Building on West Broadway

The 2005-2007 population estimate was 74.8% White (71.7% non-Hispanic White alone), 22.9% Black or African American, 0.6% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.0% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 1.4% from some other race and 1.6% from two or more races. 2.9% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

As of the census of 2000, there were 693,604 people, 287,012 households, and 183,113 families residing in the city/county. The population density was 1,801 people per square mile (695/km2). There were 305,835 housing units at an average density of 794/sq mi (307/km2). The racial makeup of the city/county is 77.38% White, 18.88% Black or African American, 0.22% Native American, 1.39% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.68% from other races, and 1.42% from two or more races. 1.78% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of 2007, the area lying within pre-merger Louisville (i.e., the area known as the City of Louisville before the 2003 consolidation) had 245,315 people and 3,995 people per square mile. The racial makeup of pre-merger Louisville is 60.05% white, 35.22% black, 1.86% Asian, 0.24% Native American, and 2.95% 'Other'. 2.42% of the people in pre-merger Louisville claim Hispanic ethnicity (meaning 97.58% are non-Hispanic).

There were 287,012 households out of which 29.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.20% were married couples living together, 14.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.20% were non-families. 30.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.97.

The age distribution is 24.30% under the age of 18, 8.90% from 18 to 24, 30.40% from 25 to 44, 22.80% from 45 to 64, and 13.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 91.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.60 males.

The median income for a household is $39,457, and the median income for a family was $49,161. Males had a median income of $36,484 versus $26,255 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,352. About 9.50% of families and 12.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.10% of those under age 18 and 8.80% of those ages 65 or over.

17% of the state's population lives in Jefferson County and 25% live in counties in the Louisville CSA. Over one-third of the population growth in Kentucky is in Louisville's CSA counties.


Louisville hosts religious institutions of various faiths. There are 135,421 Catholic Louisvillians who are part of the Archdiocese of Louisville, covering 24 counties in central Kentucky (consisting of 121 parishes and missions spread over 8,124 square miles). The Cathedral of the Assumptionmarker in downtown Louisville is the seat of the Archdiocese of Louisville. Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbeymarker, the monastic home of Catholic writer Thomas Merton, is in nearby Bardstown, Kentuckymarker and also in the archdiocese. Louisville is also the home of Our Lady's Rosary Makers, the largest Catholic Rosary making group in the United States, with 17,000 active members worldwide. Most of Louisville's Catholic population is of German descent, the result of large-scale 19th-century immigration.

One in three Louisvillians is Southern Baptist, belonging to one of 147 local congregations. This denomination increased in number when large numbers of people moved into Louisville in the early 20th century from rural Kentucky and Tennesseemarker to work in the city's factories; some of these migrants also formed Holiness and Pentecostal churches and Churches of Christ.

German immigrants in the 19th century brought not only a large Catholic population, but also the Lutheran and Evangelical faiths, which are represented today in Louisville by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the United Church of Christ, respectively.

Southeast Christian Churchmarker, a megachurch and one of the largest Christian churches in the United States, is located in Louisville.

The city is home to several religious institutions: the Southern Baptist Theological Seminarymarker, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminarymarker and the denominational headquarters of the Presbyterian Church .

Louisville is home to the oldest African-American Seventh-day Adventist congregation, Magazine Street Church.

The historic Christ Church Cathedralmarker is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky, which covers the western part of the state.

Louisville has two Eastern Orthodox parishes: Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, and the Antiochian parish, St. Michael the Archangel (with a Chapel, St. George).

The Louisville Kentucky Temple, the 76th temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), is located in nearby Crestwoodmarker.

There is a Jewish population of around 8,500 in the city served by five synagogues. Most Jewish families emigrated from Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century; around 800 Soviet Jews have moved to Louisville since 1991. Jewish immigrants founded Jewish Hospital, which was once the center of the city's Jewish district. Jewish Hospital recently merged with the Catholic healthcare system CARITAS. On one corner near Bowman field are located the one orthodox temple, Shalom Towers, the Jewish Community Center and Jewish Family and Vocational Service.

Kentucky's only Hindu temple opened in suburban Louisville in 1999, and had about 125 members and two full-time priests in 2000. In 2001, there were an estimated four to ten thousand practicing Muslims in Louisville attending six local mosques.


Louisville's early economy first developed through the shipping and cargo industries. Its strategic location at the Falls of the Ohio, as well as its unique position in the central United States (within one day's road travel to 60% of the cities in the continental U.S.) make it an ideal location for the transfer of cargo along its route to other destinations. The Louisville and Portland Canalmarker and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad were important links in water and rail transportation. Louisville's importance to the shipping industry continues today with the presence of the Worldportmarker global air hub for UPSmarker at Louisville International Airport. Louisville's location at the crossroads of three major Interstate highways (I-64, I-65 and I-71) also contributes to its modern-day strategic importance to the shipping and cargo industry. As of 2003, Louisville ranks as the 7th largest inland port in the United States.

Recently, Louisville has emerged as a major center for the health care and medical sciences industries. Louisville has been central to advancements in heart and hand surgery as well as cancer treatment. Some of the earliest artificial heart transplants were conducted in Louisville. Louisville's thriving downtown medical research campus includes a new $88 million rehabilitation center, and a health sciences research and commercialization park that, in partnership with the University of Louisville, has lured nearly 70 top scientists and researchers. Louisville is also home to Humana, one of the nation's largest health insurance companies.

Louisville is home to several major corporations and organizations:

Louisville for a long time was also home to Brown & Williamson, the third largest company in the tobacco industry before merging with R. J. Reynolds in 2004 to form the Reynolds American Company. Brown & Williamson, one of the subjects of the tobacco industry scandal of the 1990s, was the focus of The Insider, a 1999 film shot around the Louisville area. Also located in Louisville are two major Ford plants, and a major General Electric appliance factory.

Additionally, one-third of all of the bourbon whiskey comes from Louisville. The Brown-Forman Corporation is one of the major makers of bourbon, which is headquartered in Louisville. Other major distilleries of bourbon can be found both in the city of Louisville, and in neighboring cities in Kentuckymarker.

Louisville also prides itself in its large assortment of small, independent businesses and restaurants, some of which have become known for their ingenuity and creativity. In 1926 the Brown Hotel became the home of the Hot Brown "sandwich". A few blocks away, the Seelbach Hotel, which F. Scott Fitzgerald references in The Great Gatsby, is also famous for a secret back room where Al Capone would regularly meet with associates during the Prohibition era. The drink the Old Fashioned was invented in Louisville's Pendennis Clubmarker.

Several major motion pictures have also been filmed in or near Louisville, including Goldfinger, Stripes, The Insider, Lawn Dogs, Nice Guys Sleep Alone, Keep Your Distance, and Elizabethtown.


Annual festivals and other events

Louisville is home to a number of annual cultural events. Perhaps most well-known is the Kentucky Derby, held annually during the first Saturday of May. The Derby is preceded by a two-week long Kentucky Derby Festival, which starts with the annual Thunder Over Louisville, the largest annual fireworks display in the nation. The Kentucky Derby Festival also features notable events such as the Pegasus Parade, The Great Steamboat Race, Great Balloon Race, a marathon, and about seventy events in total. Esquire magazine has called the Kentucky Derby "the biggest party in the south."

Usually beginning in late February or early March is the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisvillemarker, an internationally acclaimed new-play festival that lasts approximately six weeks.

On Memorial Day weekend, Louisville hosts the largest annual Beatles Festival in the world, Abbey Road on the River. The festival lasts five days and is located on the Belvederemarker in downtown Louisville.

The summer season in Louisville also features a series of cultural events such as the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival (commonly called Shakespeare in the Park), held in July of every year and features free Shakespeare plays in Central Parkmarker in Old Louisvillemarker. June sees the relatively new addition of Louisville Pride festivities, including an annually growing and media-covered gay-pride parade through the streets of downtown Louisville and picnic at the Belvedere. The Kentucky State Fair is held every August at the Kentucky Exposition Centermarker in Louisville as well, featuring an array of culture from all areas of Kentuckymarker.
In September is the Bluegrass Balloon Festival, the fifth largest hot air balloon festival in the nation. The festival features early morning balloon races, as well as balloon glows in the evening. In September, in nearby Bardstownmarker, is the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, which features some of the finest bourbon in the world. The suburb of Jeffersontownmarker is also the home of the annual Gaslight Festival, a series of events spread over a week. Attendance is approximately 200,000 for the week.

The month of October features the St. James Court Art Showmarker in Old Louisville. Thousands of artists gather on the streets and in the courtyard to exhibit and sell their wares, and the event is attended by many art collectors and enthusiasts. The show is the second most-attended event next to the Derby. Another art-related event that occurs every month is the First Friday Trolley Hop. A TARC trolley takes art lovers to many downtown area art galleries on the first Friday of every month.

Museums, galleries, and interpretive centers

The West Main District in downtown Louisville features what is locally known as "Museum Row". In this area, the Frazier International History Museummarker, which opened in 2004, features a collection of arms, armor and related historical artifacts spanning 1,000 years, concentrating on U.S. and UK arms. The building features three stories of exhibits, two reenactment arenas, a 120-seat auditorium, and a 48-seat movie theater. Also nearby is the Louisville Science Center, which is Kentuckymarker's largest hands-on science center and features interactive exhibits, IMAX films, educational programs and technology networks. The Muhammad Ali Centermarker opened November 2005 in "Museum Row" and features Louisville native Muhammad Ali's boxing memorabilia.
The Speed Art Museummarker opened in 1927 and is the oldest and largest art museum in the state of Kentuckymarker. Located adjacent to the University of Louisvillemarker, the museum features over 12,000 pieces of art in its permanent collection and hosts regular temporary exhibitions. Multiple art galleries are located in the city, but they are especially concentrated in the East Market District of downtown. This row of galleries, plus others in the West Main District, are prominently featured in the monthly First Friday Trolley Hop.

Several local history museums can be found in the Louisville area. The most prominent among them is The Filson Historical Society, founded in 1884, which has holdings exceeding 1.5 million manuscript items and over 50,000 volumes in the library. The Filson's extensive collections focus on Kentuckymarker, the Upper South, and the Ohio River Valley, and contain a large collection of portraiture and over 10,000 museum artifacts. Other local history museums include the Portland Museum, Historic Locust Grovemarker, Conrad-Caldwell House Museum, the Falls of the Ohio State Parkmarker interpretive center (Clarksville, Indianamarker), Howard Steamboat Museummarker (Jeffersonville, Indianamarker) and the Carnegie Center for Art and Historymarker (New Albany, Indianamarker). The Falls interpretive center, part of the Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area, also functions as a natural history museum, covering findings in the nearby exposed Devonian fossil bed.

There are also several historical properties and items of interest in the area, including the Belle of Louisvillemarker, the oldest Mississippimarker-style steamboat in operation in the United States. The United States Marine Hospital of Louisville is considered the best remaining antebellum hospital in the United States. It was designed by Robert Mills, who is best known as the designer of the Washington Monument. Fort Knoxmarker, spread out among Bullittmarker, Hardinmarker and Meademarker Counties (two of which are in the Louisville metropolitan areamarker), is home to the U.S.marker Bullion Depositorymarker and the General George Patton Museummarker. The previously mentioned Locust Grove, former home of Louisville Founder George Rogers Clark, portrays life in the early days of the city. Other notable properties include the Farmington Historic Plantation (home of the famous Speed family), Riverside, The Farnsley-Moremen Landingmarker, and the restored Union Stationmarker, which was opened in September 7, 1891. The Louisville area is also home to the Waverly Hills Sanatoriummarker, a turn-of-the-century (20th) hospital that was originally built to accommodate tuberculosis patients, and subsequently has been reported and sensationalized to be haunted.


Louisville's newspaper of record is The Courier-Journal, and the alternative paper is the progressive alt-weekly Louisville Eccentric Observer (commonly called 'LEO'), which was founded by 3rd districtmarker U.S. Representative John Yarmuth (D). WAVE 3marker, an NBC affiliate, was Kentucky's first TV station. Another prominent TV station is ABC affiliate WHAS 11marker, formerly owned by the famous Bingham family (who also owned The Courier-Journal), which hosts the regionally notable annual fundraiser, the WHAS Crusade for Children. WDRB-FOX41marker/WMYOmarker and CBS affiliate WLKY 32marker round out the major television stations in the city. The most popular radio station is 84 WHASmarker 840 AM, designated by the FCC as a clear-channel station. This station was also formerly owned by the Binghams (now Clear Channel Communications), and is a talk radio station which also broadcasts regional sports.

Parks and outdoor attractions

Louisville Metro has 122 city parks covering more than . Several of these parks were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York Citymarker's Central Parkmarker as well as parks, parkways, college campuses and public facilities in many U.S. locations. The Louisville Waterfront Parkmarker is prominently located on the banks of the Ohio River near downtown, and features large open areas, which often feature free concerts and other festivals. Cherokee Parkmarker, one of the most visited parks in the nation, features a mixed-use loop and many well-known landscaping features. Other notable parks in the system include Iroquois Parkmarker, Shawnee Parkmarker and Central Parkmarker.

Going a bit further out from the downtown area is the Jefferson Memorial Forestmarker, which at 6,218 acres is the largest municipal urban forest in the United States. , The forest is designated as a National Audubon Societymarker wildlife refuge, and offers over of various hiking trails.

Otter Creek Park is another large park nearby. While actually in Brandenburg, Kentuckymarker, Otter Creek Park is owned and operated by Louisville Metro government. The park's namesake, Otter Creek, winds along the eastern side of the park. A scenic bend in the Ohio River, which divides Kentuckymarker from Indianamarker, can be seen from northern overlooks within the park. The park is a popular mountain biking destination, with trails maintained by a local mountain bike organization.
Other outdoor points of interest in the Louisville area include Cave Hill Cemeterymarker (the burial location of Col. Harland Sanders), Zachary Taylor National Cemeterymarker (the burial location of President Zachary Taylor), the Louisville Zoomarker, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdommarker and the Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area.

In development is the City of Parks, a project to create a continuous paved pedestrian and biking trail around Louisville Metro while also adding a large amount of park land. Current plans call for making basically the entire Floyds Fork flood plain in eastern Jefferson Countymarker into park space, expanding area in the Jefferson Memorial Forest, and adding riverfront land and wharfs along the Riverwalk Trail and Levee Trail.

Performing arts

The Kentucky Centermarker, dedicated in 1983, located in the downtown hotel and entertainment district, features a variety of plays and concerts. This is also the home of the Louisville Ballet, Louisville Orchestra, Music Theatre Louisville, Stage One, and the Kentucky Opera, which is the twelfth oldest opera in the United States.

The Louisville Orchestra was founded in 1937 by conductor Robert Whitney and Charles Farnsley, then Mayor of Louisville, and was a world leader in commissioning and recording contemporary works for orchestra from the 1950s to 1980s. The Louisville Orchestra today performs more than 125 concerts per year with a core of 71 full-time musicians and is recognized as a cornerstone of the Louisville arts community.

Actors Theatre of Louisvillemarker, is in the city's urban cultural district and hosts the Humana Festival of New American Plays each spring. It presents approximately six hundred performances of about thirty productions during its year-round season, composed of a diverse array of contemporary and classical fare.

Walden Theatre, the nation's preeminent theatre conservatory for young people regularly presents both modern and classics of American and British theatre at The Kentucky Center's MEX Theatre, Cultural Center at the Frazier International History Museum and Actors Theatre of Louisville. The company also stages one of the few annual salutes to William Shakespeare in the country. The theatre also devotes itself to fostering new Playwright talent with the annual Young Playwrights Festival in the early moths of the year.

The Louisville Palacemarker, the official venue for the Louisville Orchestra, is an ornate theatre in downtown Louisville's so-called theatre district. In addition to orchestra performances, the theatre shows films, and hosts concerts.

Iroquois Parkmarker is the home of the renovated Iroquois Amphitheater, which hosts a variety of musical concerts in a partially covered outdoor setting.


College sports are very popular in the Louisville area, especially college basketball. The Louisville Cardinals rank first nationally in percent to capacity attendance annually, with Freedom Hall averaging better than 100% for 10 straight years. The Cardinals ranked 4th in actual attendance in 2007, although they will likely pass Syracuse and North Carolina in attendance when the new 22,000 seat waterfront arena is completed in 2010. The Cardinals also hold the Big East conference women's basketball paid attendance record with nearly 17,000 attending the game against the Kentucky Wildcats in 2008.

The Louisville market has ranked first in ratings for the NCAA men's basketball tournament every year since 1999. The Kentucky Wildcats also play an annual game in Freedom Hall, although attendance has declined steadily in recent years, with only 10,163 fans attending the 2008 game, only 54% of Freedom Hall's capacity.

The Louisville Cardinals football team, which had produced talent like Johnny Unitas, Deion Branch, Sam Madison, David Akers and Ray Buchanan, achieved national respect in the 1990s under coach Howard Schnellenberger when the team defeated Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl. The program's stock continued to rise as it joined the Big East Conference and won the FedEx Orange Bowl in 2007 under Bobby Petrino. The University of Louisville baseball team advanced to the College World Series in Omaha in 2007, as one of the final eight teams to compete for the national championship.

Horse racing is also a major attraction. Churchill Downsmarker is home to the Kentucky Derby, the largest sporting event in the state, as well as the Kentucky Oaks which together cap the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. Churchill Downs has also hosted the renowned Breeders' Cup on six occasions, most recently in 2006.

Louisville is also the home of Valhalla Golf Clubmarker which hosted the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships, the 2004 Senior PGA Championship, and the 2008 Ryder Cup. It is also home to Louisville Extreme Parkmarker, open since 2002, and which skateboarder Tony Hawk has called one of his top five skate parks.

Louisville has six professional and semi-professional sports teams. The Louisville Bats are a baseball team playing in the International League as the Class AAA affiliate of the nearby Cincinnati Reds. The team plays at Louisville Slugger Fieldmarker at the edge of the city's downtown.

The city of Louisville has made several unsuccessful bids in recent years to draw major league sports teams to the city, most notably when the Vancouver Grizzlies franchise was considering a move several years ago, as well as the Charlotte Hornets franchise, which ultimately ended up in New Orleansmarker.

High school sports are also popular. Louisville-area high schools have been dominant in football for decades. Schools such as Butler, St. Xaviermarker, Trinitymarker and Malemarker have won every state 4A football title except one since 1992 and have been 13 of the 15 finalists since 1997. Some fierce rivalries have developed over the years. The annual game between St. Xavier and Trinity draws over 35,000 fans and is the largest attended high school sporting event in the country. The 2002 Kentucky state 4A Football Championship between Male and Trinity, a showdown between future UofL teammates Brian Brohm (Trinity) and Michael Bush (Male) that ended with a 59-56 Trinity win, is listed as one of the top 50 sporting events of all time by many critics. The "Old Rivalry" between Malemarker and Manualmarker high schools is one of the nation's oldest, dating back to 1893, and was played on Thanksgiving Day through 1980, with Manual winning the final T-Day game by a score of 6-0 in overtime.

Louisville has the added distinction of being the only city in the world that is the birthplace of four heavyweight boxing champions: Marvin Hart, Muhammad Ali, Jimmy Ellis and Greg Page.

Current professional teams

See also: Historical professional sports teams in Louisville

Club Sport Founded League Venue
Louisville Bulls Football 1988 Mid Continental Football League Various
Louisville Kings Australian rules football 1996 USAFL (USFOOTY) Hays-Kennedy Park
Louisville Bats Baseball 2002 International League Louisville Slugger Fieldmarker



Louisville is home to several institutions of higher learning. There are three four year universities, the University of Louisvillemarker, Bellarmine Universitymarker, and Spalding University, and several other business or technical schools such as Sullivan University, Spencerian College, ITT Technical Institute, Strayer University, and Louisville Technical Institute. Indiana University Southeastmarker is located across the Ohio River in New Albany, Indianamarker.

The University of Louisville has notable achievements including the discovery of the world's first cervical cancer vaccine, several hand transplants, and the world's first wireless artificial heart transplant. The school's Health Sciences Center in Downtown Louisville is currently adding an expansive medical research market on the city's old Haymarket site, which is projected to add 10,000 high paying jobs within 10 years.

According to the U.S. Census, of Louisville's population over twenty-five, 21.3% (the national average is 24%) hold a bachelor's degree or higher, and 76.1% (80% nationally) have a high school diploma or equivalent.

The public school system, Jefferson County Public Schools, consists of more than 98,000 students in 89 elementary schools, 24 middle schools, 22 high schools and 22 other learning centers. Due to Louisville's large Catholic population, there are 27 Catholic schools in the city. The Kentucky School for the Blindmarker for all of Kentucky's blind and visually impaired students is located in Louisville.


Louisville's main airport is the centrally located Louisville International Airportmarker, whose IATA Airport Code (SDF) reflects its former name of Standiford Field. The airport is also home to UPSmarker's Worldportmarker global air hub. UPS operates its largest package-handling hub at Louisville International Airport and bases its UPS Airlines division there. Over 3.5 million passengers and over 3 billion pounds (1,400,000 t) of cargo pass through the airport each year. Louisville International Airportmarker is also the 4th busiest airport in the United States in terms of cargo passage, and it is the 11th busiest in cargo passage in the world. The historic but smaller Bowman Fieldmarker is used mainly for general aviation.

The McAlpine Locks and Dammarker is located on the Kentuckymarker side of the Ohio River, near the downtown area. The locks were constructed to allow shipping past the Falls of the Ohio. In 2001 over 55 million tons of commodities passed through the locks. A new lock was constructed to replace two of the auxiliary locks, with a projected completion date of 2008, but was completed in early 2009.

Public transportation consists mainly of buses run by the Transit Authority of River City (TARC). The city buses serve all parts of downtown Louisville and Jefferson Countymarker, as well as Kentucky suburbs in Oldham Countymarker, Bullitt Countymarker, and the Indianamarker suburbs of Jeffersonvillemarker, Clarksvillemarker and New Albanymarker. A light rail system has been studied and proposed for the city, but no plan was in development as of 2007.

Louisville has inner and outer interstate beltways, I-264 and I-265 respectively. Interstate I-64, I-65 pass through Louisville, and I-71 has its southern terminus in Louisville. Since all three of these highways intersect at virtually the same location on the east side of downtown, this spot has become known as "Spaghetti Junctionmarker". Two bridges carry I-64 and I-65 over the Ohio River, and a third automobile bridgemarker carries non-interstate traffic. Plans for two more bridges to connect Louisville to Indiana, along with a reconfiguration of Spaghetti Junction, have been under consideration for years and some exploratory construction began in 2007. One bridge would be located downtown for relief of I-65 traffic. The other would connect the Indiana and Kentucky I-265's (via KY-841). As with any major project, there are detractors and possible alternatives; one grassroots organization,, has proposed options for downtown revitalization improvements, and a simpler and less expensive roadway design.

Louisville has historically been a major center for railway traffic. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad was once headquartered here, before it was purchased by CSX Transportation. Today the city is served by two major freight railroads, CSX (with a major classification yard in the southern part of the metro area) and Norfolk Southern. Five major main lines connect Louisville to the rest of the region. Two regional railroads, the Paducah and Louisville Railway and the Louisville and Indiana Railroad, also serve the city. With the discontinuance of the short-lived Kentucky Cardinal in 2003, Amtrak passenger trains no longer serve Louisville; it is thus the fifth-largest city in the country with no passenger rail service.


Electricity is provided to the Louisville Metro area by Louisville Gas & Electric, a subsidiary of E.ON US.

Water is provided by the Louisville Water Company, which provides water to more than 800,000 residents in Louisville as well as parts of Oldhammarker and Bullittmarker counties. Additionally, they provide wholesale water to the outlying counties of Shelbymarker, Spencermarker and Nelsonmarker.

The Ohio River provides for most of the city's source of drinking water. Water is drawn from the river at two points: the raw water pump station at Zorn and River Road, and the B.E. Payne Pump Station northeast of Harrods Creek. Water is also obtained from a riverbank infiltration well at the Payne Plant. There are also two water treatment plants serving the Louisville Metro area: The Crescent Hill Treatment Plant and the B.E. Payne Treatment Plant. In June 2008, the Louisville Water Company received the "Best of the Best" award from the American Water Works Association, citing it the best-tasting drinking water in the country.

Sister cities

Louisville has eight sister cities:

In addition, Leeds is considered a "friendship city". The two cities have engaged in many cultural exchange programs, particularly in the fields of nursing and law, and cooperated in several private business developments, including the Frazier International History Museummarker.

On April 15, 2008, it was announced that Louisville would be twinned with the town of Bushmillsmarker in Northern Irelandmarker. The two places share a tradition for the brewing of whiskey. The choice of Louisville came after a search of U.S. cities, followed by an online poll conducted for the public to decide between three finalists, which also included Bostonmarker and Portland, Mainemarker.

Notable people and events

Louisville has been home to a number of well-known people, including inventor Thomas Edison, U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker Justice Louis Brandeis, boxing legend Muhammad Ali, famed primatologist Dian Fossey, newscaster Diane Sawyer, actor Tom Cruise, the Speed family (including U.S. Attorney General James Speed and Abraham Lincoln's close friend Joshua Fry Speed), the Bingham family, industrialist/politician James Guthrie, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and writers Hunter S. Thompson and Sue Grafton.

Important events occurring in the city have included the first public viewing place of Edison's light bulb, the first library open to African Americans in the South, and medical advances that include the first human hand transplant, the first self-contained artificial heart transplant, and the site of the development of the first cervical cancer vaccine.

See also


  1. Yater, pp. 46–48
  2. Climate information from NOAA
  3. Maximum and minimum temperatures from Yahoo! Weather
  4. ref name="120606_CJ">Green, Marcus. "Museum Plaza plan expands, cost grows", Courier-Journal [Louisville], December 6, 2006. December 7, 2006 [1] .
  5. The Courier-Journal 2006–07 Kentuckiana Guide
  6. " America's Safest (and Most Dangerous) Cities." Morgan Quitno Press. November 21, 2005. Retrieved on July 8, 2006.
  7. Data on Baptist Population from LRA website Long Run Baptist Association
  8. {{cite web|url={C2B603F2-674F-4071-BAB9-C94AE3F9CA75} |title= New Property Connects Sections of Jefferson Memorial Forest -- Nov. 2009}}
  9. Data from Louisville Water
  10. Sister cities designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI) . Retrieved June 1, 2006.
  11. " Friendship City Status." Sister Cities of Louisville. 2006. Retrieved on June 1, 2006.

Further reading

External links

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