| United States|
4.9% (Feb 2015)
George Rogers Clark
Greg Fischer (D)
| Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Churchill Downs, Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville Zoo, 21c Museum Hotels|
University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, Jefferson Community and Technical College, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Sullivan University
Louisville (generally pronounced or by natives, and by others) is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the 28th most populous city in the United States. It is one of two cities in Kentucky designated as first-class, with the other being the states second-largest city of Lexington. Louisville is the historical seat and, since 2003, the nominal seat of Jefferson County.
Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark and is named after King Louis XVI of France, making Louisville one of the oldest cities west of the Appalachian Mountains. Sited beside the Falls of the Ohio, the only major obstruction to river traffic between the upper Ohio River and the Gulf of Mexico, the settlement first grew as a portage site. It was the founding city of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, which grew into a 6,000-mile (9,700 km) system across 13 states. Today the city is known as the home of the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Fried Chicken, the University of Louisville and its Louisville Cardinals athletic teams, Louisville Slugger baseball bats, and three of Kentuckys six Fortune 500 companies. Its main airport is also the site of UPSs worldwide air hub.
Since 2003, Louisvilles borders have been coterminous with those of Jefferson County because of a city-county merger. The official name of this consolidated city-county government is the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government, with Louisville Metro used for short. Despite the merger and renaming, the term "Jefferson County" continues to be used in some contexts in reference to Louisville Metro, particularly including the incorporated cities outside the "balance" which make up Louisville proper. The citys total consolidated population as of the 2013 census estimate was 756,832. However, the balance total of 609,893 excludes other incorporated places and semi-autonomous towns within the county and is the population listed in most sources and national rankings.
The Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), sometimes also referred to as Kentuckiana, includes Louisville-Jefferson County and twelve surrounding counties, eight in Kentucky and four in Southern Indiana. As of 2013, the MSA had a population of 1,262,261, ranking 43rd nationally.
The history of Louisville spans hundreds of years, and has been influenced by the areas geography and location.
As of 2000, Louisville and Jefferson County have a combined area of 399 square miles (1,030 km2), of which 385 square miles (1,000 km2) is land and 13 square miles (34 km2) (3.38%) is water.
Louisville is southeasterly situated along the border between Kentucky and Indiana, the Ohio River, in north-central Kentucky at the Falls of the Ohio. Although situated in a Southern state, Louisville is influenced by both Southern and Midwestern culture. It is sometimes referred to as either one of the northernmost Southern cities or as one of the southernmost Northern cities in the United States.
Louisville is located in Kentuckys Bluegrass region. Its development has been influenced by its location on the Ohio River, which spurred Louisvilles 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.
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 Forest.
The Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the 43rd 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. Louisvilles MSA is included in the Louisville–Elizabethtown–Madison, KY–IN Combined Statistical Area (CSA), which also includes the Elizabethtown, KY MSA as well as the Madison, IN Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Louisvilles 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 days 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 Canal and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad were important links in water and rail transportation. Louisvilles importance to the shipping industry continues today with the presence of the Worldport global air-freight hub for UPS at Louisville International Airport. Louisvilles 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.
Louisville has blossomed as a booming center for independent art, music and business.
A Louisville locale that highlights this scene is Bardstown Road, an area located in the heart of the Highlands. Bardstown Road is known for its cultural diversity and local trade. The majority of the businesses along Bardstown Road, such as coffee shops, clothing stores and art galleries, are locally owned and operated businesses. Though it is only about one mile (1.6 km) long, this strip of Bardstown Road constitutes much of the citys culture and diverse lifestyle, contributing to the unofficial "Keep Louisville Weird" slogan. Just a few blocks down the road was ear X-tacy, a local record store that was a fixture in the Louisville music scene for many years until late 2011.
In downtown Louisville, 21c Museum Hotel, a hotel that showcases contemporary art installations and exhibitions throughout its public spaces, and features a red penguin on its roof, is, according to The New York Times, "an innovative concept with strong execution and prompt and enthusiastic service."
Louisville is home to a thriving indie music scene with bands such as the widely known, Love Jones, Flaw, CABIN, Slint, My Morning Jacket, The Glasspack, VHS or Beta and Villebillies. Acclaimed singer/songwriter Will Oldham is a resident. The town is also home to the post-grunge bands Days of the New and Tantric. This scene reaches a crescendo every July during the Forecastle Festival, a three-day music, art and environmental activism festival taking place at Louisville Waterfront Park.
Especially catering to Louisvilles music scene is 91.9 WFPK Radio Louisville, a local public radio station funded, in part, from local listeners. The station features not only national and international musicians common to public radio, but also local and regional talent. The station also hosts summer concerts on the waterfront from April until July, where up-and-coming alternative artists are brought to stage.
Louisville Metro has 122 city parks covering more than 13,000 acres (53 km2). Several of these parks were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York Citys Central Park as well as parks, parkways, college campuses and public facilities in many U.S. locations. The Louisville Waterfront Park is prominently located on the banks of the Ohio River near downtown and features large open areas, which often hold free concerts and other festivals. The Big Four Bridge, a former railroad bridge spanning 547 feet (167 m) but is now a pedestrian bridge connecting Waterfront Park with Jeffersonville, Indianas waterfront park, fully opened in May 2014 with the completion of Jeffersonvilles ramp. Cherokee Park, one of the most visited parks in the nation, features a 2.6-mile (4.2 km) mixed-use loop and many well-known landscaping and architectural features including the Hogans Fountain Pavilion. Other notable parks in the system include Iroquois Park, Shawnee Park, Seneca Park and Central Park.
Further from the downtown area is the Jefferson Memorial Forest, which at 6,218 acres (25.16 km2) is the largest municipal urban forest in the United States., The forest is designated as a National Audubon Society wildlife refuge and offers over 30 miles (48 km) of various hiking trails.
Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, owned and operated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, is another large park in nearby Brandenburg, Kentucky. The parks namesake, Otter Creek, winds along the eastern side of the park. A scenic bend in the Ohio River, which divides Kentucky from Indiana, 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 Cemetery (the burial location of Col. Harland Sanders), Zachary Taylor National Cemetery (the burial location of President Zachary Taylor), the Louisville Zoo 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 approximately 4,000 acres (16 km2) of the Floyds Fork flood plain in eastern Jefferson County into a new park system called The Parklands of Floyds Fork, expanding area in the Jefferson Memorial Forest, and adding riverfront land and wharfs along the Riverwalk Trail and Levee Trail.
Louisville is home to many 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 North America. The Kentucky Derby Festival also features notable events such as the Pegasus Parade, The Great Steamboat Race, Great Balloon Race, a combined marathon/mini 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 Louisville, 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 Belvedere 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 Central Park"), held in July of every year and features free Shakespeare plays in Central Park in Old Louisville.
Also in July, the Forecastle Festival draws 35,000 visitors annually to Louisville Waterfront Park in celebration of the best in music, art and environmental activism. Past performers include The Black Keys, The Flaming Lips, Widespread Panic, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Avett Brothers, The Black Crowes and hundreds more.
The Kentucky State Fair is held every August at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville as well, featuring an array of culture from all areas of Kentucky. In places, the African American community celebrates Juneteenth commemorating June 19, 1865, when slaves in the western territories learned of their freedom.
In September, in nearby Bardstown, is the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, which features some of the finest bourbon in the world. The suburb of Jeffersontown 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 Show 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 (especially East Market District/NuLu) independent art galleries on the first Friday of every month.
The West Main District in downtown Louisville features what is locally known as "Museum Row". In this area is the Frazier History Museum, which opened its doors in 2004 as an armaments museum, featuring the only collection of Royal Armouries artifacts outside of the United Kingdom. Since then the Frazier has expanded its focus to broader history. The Frazier Museum has three floors of exhibits, an education center and a tournament ring, which presents daily performances, as well as event spaces available for rent, including our rooftop garden featuring native plants and 4th floor loft-style space that accommodates up to 360 people seated.
Also nearby is the Kentucky Science Center, which is Kentuckys largest hands-on science center and features interactive exhibits, IMAX films, educational programs and technology networks. The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, opened in 1981, is a nonprofit organization with a mission to support and promote excellence in art, craft, applied arts and design. The Muhammad Ali Center opened November 2005 in "Museum Row" and features Louisville native Muhammad Alis boxing memorabilia.
The Speed Art Museum opened in 1927 and is the oldest and largest art museum in the state of Kentucky. Located adjacent to the University of Louisville, 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 (NuLu), immediately to the east 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 Filsons extensive collections focus on Kentucky, 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 Grove, Conrad-Caldwell House Museum, the Falls of the Ohio State Park interpretive center (Clarksville, Indiana), Howard Steamboat Museum (Jeffersonville, Indiana) and the Carnegie Center for Art and History (New Albany, Indiana). 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.