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15 Facts about Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky and the seat of Jefferson county, is situated in a bend of the Ohio River near the midpoint of the state's northern border. In its setting, its architecture, and its way of life, Louisville is a place of contrasts -a mixture of old and new, South and North, rural and industrial, small town and big city.
1. Louisville is probably best known as the site of the Kentucky Derby, the nation's most famous horse race, run each year since 1875 at Churchill Downs. Derby Week early in May, marked by lavish entertainment, a parade, and a steamboat race, is the annual high point of the city's life.
2. The countryside is close to metropolitan Louisville. The city's residential sections spread out to a high ridge of wooded hills on the south and toward Kentucky's rolling Bluegrass region on the east. Behind the northern suburbs, across the river in Indiana, rises a ridge of steep, wooded knobs.
3. Louisville grew up along the river, and along or near its banks are rows of buildings, still in use, that have changed little since the 19th century. Among them rise half a dozen new hotel and office towers, begun in the early 1970s as part of a massive redevelopment of the riverfront area. A pedestrian promenade stretches along the site of the old public wharf.
4. Most residents of Louisville -who call themselves Louisvillians- live in single-family houses, each with its own lawn, but many apartment complexes have been built.
5. Residential Louisville is a collection of neighborhoods. Old Louisville's large Victorian houses, many of them restored, stand on tree-lined streets just outside the business district. Portland, near the river, has narrow white frame houses. Germantown is an area of tiny, well-kept houses with neat lawns, and Upper River Road has spacious estates crowning a line of bluffs overlooking the river.
6. Louisville is an industrial center that ranks high in the production of whiskey, household appliances, synthetic rubber, motor trucks, tractors, bathtubs, paint, barrels, cigarettes, air-filtration equipment, educational material for blind persons, and baseball bats.
7. Other major products of Louisville include automobiles, farm implements, aluminum, chemicals, industrial machinery, bedding, processed foods, and magazines. The city is a center for meat packing, grain milling, hardware distribution, insurance, construction, finance, naval gun maintenance, and franchising of fried chicken sales. The Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center provides a huge convention facility.
8. Louisville has taken many progressive steps in meeting social and urban development problems. Among them have been the creation of a pilot comprehensive neighborhood health center for the poor; a program for training, placement, and long-term counseling of the hard-core unemployed; a system of community action councils by which poor neighborhoods seek to improve themselves; and commissions to combat racial discrimination and air pollution.
9. When conservationists opposed the routing of an interstate highway through a city park, the engineers compromised by tunneling under it. Nearby, a bridge was built only to carry a bridle path over the highway -a tribute to the city's devotion to horses.
10. The public schools in Louisville have innovative programs for inner-city pupils, abolishing traditional classes and classrooms and giving principals, parents, and neighborhood leaders more scope in operating individual schools.
11. The University of Louisville is the nation's oldest municipal university. Other institutions of higher learning include Bellarmine College, Spalding University, Sullivan University, Jefferson Community and Technical College, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
12. Louisville conducts an annual fund drive for the arts. Among the organizations that benefit are the Louisville Orchestra, the Kentucky Opera Association, the Louisville Civic Ballet, the Louisville and Jefferson County Youth Orchestra, and the Actors Theatre, a professional repertory group.
13. The Courier-Journal, the Louisville's morning daily, is one of the most highly respected newspapers in the nation. Under the same ownership is the afternoon Louisville Times. The city has major network television stations, an independent commercial channel, and two educational channels. There are several AM and FM radio stations.
14. Among the Louisville's places of interest are the J. B. Speed Art Museum, the Filson Club, the Kentucky Railway Museum, and the Churchill Downs Museum. Others include Locust Grove, a restored 1790 Georgian mansion, where George Rogers Clark, Louisville's founder, passed his last years; Farmington, a restored mansion designed by Thomas Jefferson; the Louisville Zoological Gardens; and the Rauch Memorial Planetarium.
15. Zachary Taylor, 12th president of the United States, is buried in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, within sight of his boyhood home. Cave Hill Cemetery is a noted arboretum.