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Louisville (click for maps) is Kentucky's largest city and the 16th largest city of the United States. The City of Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark and is named after King Louis XVI of France. Louisville is most famous as the home of the Kentucky Derby (capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival), the most widely watched event in American horse racing.

Louisville sits on the Kentucky-Indiana border at the only natural obstacle in the Ohio River, the Falls of the Ohio. Because of its proximity to Indiana, the area around Louisville is sometimes referred to as Kentuckiana.

As of the 2000 census, Louisville had a total population of 256,231. However, in 2003, the city and Jefferson County merged into a single government named Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government (official long form) and Louisville Metro (official short form), resulting in a city populated with approximately 700,000 residents. The Louisville metropolitan area (not to be confused with Louisville Metro) is the largest in Kentucky, and the metropolitan population of 1.5 million includes the southern Indiana counties of Clark, Floyd, Washington and Harrison.



Most long-time residents pronounce the city's name as Loo-uh-vul. Often this degrades further into Lu-vul, where the first "u" is close to a schwa "e". The name is often pronounced far back in the mouth, in the top of the throat. The standard English pronunciation, however, is Loo'ee-vil (referring to King Louis XVI), which is often utilized by political leaders and the media. No matter how Louisville is pronounced, the "s" is always silent.


Louisville is governed by a mayor and Metro Council. The current mayor is Jerry E. Abramson. The Metro Council consists of 26 seats corresponding to 26 districts apportioned by population throughout the area of Louisville Metro. Half (13) of the seats come up for re-election every two years.

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 signify the original colonies. It was designed by legendary Austrian typographer Victor Hammer. 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.

Local economy

Louisville is home to Louisville International Airport as well as several major corporations:

  • Hillerich & Bradsby (known for "Louisville Slugger" baseball bats)
  • Humana Inc.
  • Papa John's Pizza
  • Yum! Brands, Inc. (owners of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's, and A & W Restaurants; formerly Tricon Global Restaurants, successor to KFC Corporation)

Also located in Louisville are two major Ford Motor Company plants, a major R.J. Reynolds Tobacco cigarette factory, and United Parcel Service's domestic air hub.

The local daily newspaper is The Courier-Journal. Local weekly newspapers include Snitch Newsweekly and Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO).


Louisville is home to the University of Louisville, Spalding University, Bellarmine University and Jefferson Community College (part of the University of Kentucky system).

The public school system includes duPont Manual Magnet High School and Louisville Male High School. There are a variety of special schools in the system, including a small, centrally-located K-12 school, the Brown School.


College basketball is very popular in greater Louisville; Louisville and the nearby University of Kentucky in Lexington, have won a combined nine national titles (two at U of L and seven at UK), and four of the 25 winningest NCAA Division I teams are located in or near the city. Loyalties in the immediate Louisville area are fairly evenly divided between U of L and UK, with substantial numbers of Indiana University and Purdue University fans on the Indiana side of the river.

Local attractions

Statues of fancifully painted horses can be seen around Louisville. A part of the Gallopalooza art exhibition, these horses honor past winners of the Kentucky Derby.

Local attractions include:

  • Churchill Downs thoroughbred race track
  • Freedom Hall
  • Minor League Baseball's "Louisville Bats"
  • Louisville Slugger Museum
  • Muhammad Ali Museum
  • Kentucky Center for the Arts
  • JB Speed Art Museum
  • Cave Hill Cemetery
  • Myriad spacious city parks, several designed by Frederick Law Olmsted; Cherokee Park is a distinctive example
  • Seelbach Hotel and Camberley-Brown Hotel
  • Old Louisville (an historic homes district)
  • Highlands area along Bardstown Road, which features small, distinctive shops and restaurants
  • Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
  • Louisville Science Center
  • Louisville Zoo
  • Belle of Louisville steamboat
  • Historic Locust Grove farm, home of George Rogers Clark
  • Louisville Extreme Park
  • Jefferson Memorial Forest, in the Muldraugh Hill|Knobs area (southern Jefferson County)
  • Fourth Street Live, a downtown entertainment and shopping complex

Nearby, in Southern Indiana, attractions include:

  • Falls of the Ohio Museum in Clarksville, featuring the oldest exposed Devonian fossil beds in the United States
  • Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville

Louisville also has several important genealogical collections, at the Filson Club, the Sons of the American Revolution national library, and at the Louisville Free Public Library.

Famous Louisvillians

Famous Louisvillians include:

  • Muhammad Ali
  • Ned Beatty
  • Supreme Court of the United States Justice Louis Brandeis
  • Foster Brooks
  • Lance Burton
  • George Rogers Clark
  • William Conrad
  • Tom Cruise (well, he lived here for like 8 months)
  • Bob Edwards
  • Lionel Hampton
  • Telma Hopkins
  • Paul Hornung
  • Victor Mature
  • U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (United States Senate Majority Whip)
  • Pee Wee Reese
  • Don Rosa
  • Diane Sawyer
  • Phil Simms
  • U.S. President Zachary Taylor
  • Hunter S. Thompson
  • Johnny Unitas
  • Gus Van Sant
  • Jack Warden
  • 60 Minutes tobacco informant Jeffrey Wigand


Louisville is located at 38°13'44" North, 85°44'58" West (38.228870, -85.749534).

Note: All geographic data applies to the former City of Louisville as it existed prior to the creation of Louisville Metro on January 6, 2003.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 172.6 km² (66.7 mi²). 160.9 km² (62.1 mi²) of it is land and 11.7 km² (4.5 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 6.80% water.


Note: All demographics apply to the former City of Louisville as it existed prior to the creation of Louisville Metro on January 6, 2003.

As of the census of 2000, there are 256,231 people, 111,414 households, and 61,389 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,592.6/km² (4,124.9/mi²). There are 121,275 housing units at an average density of 753.8/km² (1,952.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 62.94% White, 33.01% African American, 0.23% Native American, 1.45% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.67% from other races, and 1.67% from two or more races. 1.86% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 111,414 households out of which 25.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.6% are married couples living together, 19.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 44.9% are non-families. 37.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.22 and the average family size is 2.97.

The age distribution is: 23.7% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 89.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 85.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $28,843, and the median income for a family is $36,696. Males have a median income of $30,608 versus $24,439 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,193. 21.6% of the population and 17.9% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 33.5% are under the age of 18 and 13.2% are 65 or older.


  • Louisville's sister cities are Montpellier, France; Quito, Ecuador; Mainz, Germany; La Plata, Argentina; Tamale, Ghana; and Perm, Russia.
  • One third of the bourbon in the U.S. comes from Louisville.
  • Both the lyrics and the melody of Happy Birthday to You are reported to have been written by Louisvillians in the late 19th century.
  • Louisville is the only city in the United States to have two consecutively-numbered three-digit highways: I-264 and I-265.

External links