Interesting facts about Louisville


Louisville is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

It is located on the banks of the Ohio River in north-central Kentucky.

As of December 2019, the population of Louisville is about 620,000 people. It is the 29th most populous city in the United States.

The city covers a total area of 1,030 square kilometers (398 square miles).


Louisville has an average elevation of 142 meters (466 feet) above sea level.

Prior to arrival of Europeans the area where the city is was used as hunting grounds by northern Shawnee and southern Cherokee.

Named after King Louis XVI of France, Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark, making it one of the oldest cities west of the Appalachians.

While its initial growth was slow, the advent of the steamboat in the early 1800s sparked booming industrial development, and by 1830 Louisville had secured its place as the largest city in Kentucky.

louisville history

During the Civil War, Louisville was an important Union base of operations and a major military supply center.

As the scene of the annual Kentucky Derby, held every May at Churchill Downs since 1875, the city’s name has become synonymous with horse racing.

In the reform-minded progressive era of the 1880’s the city was the first in the nation to introduce the secret ballot, significantly reducing vote fraud.

Joseph E. Seagram and Sons opened the world’s largest distillery in Louisville following the repeal of prohibition.

Thanks to companies such as Dupont, the city became the world’s largest producer of synthetic rubber during World War II.


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.

In 2003, the city of Louisville and Jefferson County merged into a single government named Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government.

Churchill Downs, located on Central Avenue in south Louisville is a Thoroughbred racetrack most famous for annually hosting the Kentucky Derby. It officially opened in 1875 and was named for Samuel Churchill, whose family was prominent in Kentucky for many years.

churchill downs

The Kentucky Derby Museum is an American Thoroughbred horse racing museum located on the grounds of Churchill Downs in Louisville. Dedicated to preserving the history of the Kentucky Derby, it first opened its doors to the public in the spring of 1985. Much of its early funding came from a donation from the estate of James Graham Brown.

kentucky derby museum

The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, is a museum and factory tour attraction located in Louisville, Kentucky’s “Museum Row”, part of the West Main District of downtown. The museum showcases the story of Louisville Slugger baseball bats in baseball and in American history.

louisville slugger museum & factory

The Speed Art Museum, colloquially referred to as the Speed by locals, is the oldest, largest, and foremost museum of art in Kentucky. It is located in Louisville, Kentucky on Third Street next to the University of Louisville Belknap campus and receives around 180,000 visits annually. The Speed houses ancient, classical, and modern art from around the world.

speed art museum

The Kentucky Science Center is Kentucky’s largest hands-on science museum. Located in Louisville, Kentucky’s “Museum Row” in the West Main District of downtown, the museum operates as a non-profit organization. It was founded in 1871 as a natural history collection, and now more than half a million people visit the museum annually. More students in Kentucky take field trips to the Kentucky Science Center than to any other destination.

kentucky science center

The Muhammad Ali Center is a non-profit museum and cultural center in Louisville. Dedicated to boxer Muhammad Ali, a native of Louisville, it is located in the city’s West Main District. The museum opened on November 19, 2005 at a cost of $80 million. It also includes a two-level amphitheater and a plaza.

muhammad ali center

The Louisville Zoo is a 134-acre (54-hectare) zoo in Louisville, situated in the city’s Poplar Level neighborhood. Founded in 1969, the “State Zoo of Kentucky” currently exhibits over 1,700 animals in naturalistic and mixed animal settings representing both geographical areas and biomes or habitats.

louisville zoo

Louisville Waterfront Park is an 34-hectare (85-acre) municipal park adjacent to the downtown area of Louisville and the Ohio River. Specifically, it is adjacent to Louisville’s wharf and
Riverfront Plaza/Belvedere, which are situated to the west of the park.

louisville waterfront park

Louisville is also known for having the largest collection of cast-iron building facades outside New York City.

The city is a leading producer of bonded bourbon whiskey and cigarettes.

The Kentucky State Fair, one of the oldest agricultural fairs in the United States, features an annual horse show that closely rivals the Derby in interest.