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Lexington: Recreation


Lexington-area residents enjoy an abundance of cultural and recreational activities and attractions. A rejuvenated downtown features Triangle Park, a 1.5-million-acre oasis of pear trees and cascading waterways; Gratz Park historic area; Victorian Square, an entire city block of restored turn-ofthe-century buildings transformed into fine shops; and Dudley Square, a renovated 1800s schoolhouse with a craft center and restaurant. For strolling and browsing, the ArtsPlace is a multi-purpose arts center which houses a gallery showcasing the works of Central Kentucky artists, and is also the site of free music and dance performances.

One of Lexington's best-known attractions is Kentucky Horse Park, a 1,200-acre tribute to the animal that makes the area famous. The park features a larger-than-life-size statue of the champion racehorse Man O'War; more than 50 breeds of horses, from racing thoroughbreds to miniature ponies; twin theaters, and the International Museum of the Horse, which traces the history of horses. Special events include horse shows, rodeos, polo matches, and national competitions involving horses and their riders or trainers. In 2005 the museum will present an exhibit dedicated to the life and work of Henry Clay, famous Kentucky horseman and one of the most influential senators in U.S. history.

The Spendthrift Training Center is an operating horse farm and training facility for more than 4,000 thoroughbreds, including two Triple Crown winners. Visitors learn how horses are trained, view a multimedia film, and tour the farm itself. The Kentucky Horse Center provides tours of thoroughbred training facilities, including barns and training tracks.

Many sights in the Lexington area are points of historic interest. The Lexington History Museum (free admission), Lexington's newest attraction, is housed in the beautiful old Fayette County Courthouse (circa 1900). Inaugural exhibits include a timeline of the area's history, a photographic study of Lexington's African American community and a special display of the IBM Selectric Typewriter, once produced locally. Perryville Battlefield in nearby Perryville, Kentucky is the site of Kentucky's bloodiest, and most important, Civil War battle. The battle marked a fatal loss of the initiative for the South. Each October, the battle is re-enacted; throughout the year, living history activities with costumed interpreters are available.

Henry Clay's twenty-room mansion, Ashland, is furnished with Clay family heirlooms and set on 20 acres of woodland and formal gardens. Hopemont, the Hunt-Morgan House, is a Federal-style home built in 1814 for Kentucky's first millionaire, John Wesley Hunt; it was also the boyhood home of Lexington's first mayor, Charlton Hunt, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, and geneticist and Nobel Prize winner Thomas Hunt Morgan. The restored house features a collection of Civil War memorabilia, early nineteenth-century paintings, a garden, and a courtyard. Built in 1802, the Mary Todd Lincoln House is the former first lady's childhood home. The Georgian-style building contains displays of personal articles that once belonged to the Todd-Lincoln families, including part of Mary's Meissen china collection. The downtown Lexington Cemetery was chartered in 1848 and features landscaped grounds, two lakes, and monuments to such Kentucky greats as statesman Henry Clay, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, the Mary Todd Lincoln family, and author James Lane Allen. An elegant Greek Revival mansion built in 1847 is the center of the 10-acre Waveland State Shrine, named for the acres of wind-blown bluegrass that once surrounded this historical complex. The home is furnished in nineteenth-century style and is surrounded by servant's quarters, a country store, gardens, an orchard, and a craft shop. Transylvania University, founded in 1780, was the first college west of the Alleghenies and features the Old Morrison Hall, built in 1833; Patterson Cabin, built by Lexington's pioneer founder Robert Patterson and perhaps the first building constructed in Lexington; and the Mitchell Fine Arts Center, housing the Morlan Gallery and a rare collection of scientific apparatus.

Nature can be enjoyed at Lexington-area attractions such as the University of Kentucky Landscape Garden Center, a collection of plants, flowers, and herbs managed by the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Department in the College of Agriculture. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, a 274-acre park dedicated to the preservation of the Kentucky River Palisades, features more than 400 species of wild-flowers and a 7-mile network of hiking trails. The Lexington Cemetery is nationally recognized as one of America's most beautiful arboretums and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for landscape design.

Arts and Culture

Lexington was an acknowledged center for art and culture as early as the mid-1800s, earning the nickname "Athens of the West." The commitment to culture continues today. The Lexington Arts and Cultural Council (LACC) was formed in 1989 through a merger of two former arts organizations. The LACC operates two facilities in downtown Lexington, ArtsPlace and the Downtown Arts Center, providing high quality performance space, galleries, rehearsal space and office space for nonprofit arts organizations. At these locations, the LACC organizes visual art exhibitions and performances showcasing the region's creative talent. The Council is located downtown in a renovated 1904 Beaux-Arts Classical building called ArtsPlace that originally housed the Lexington YMCA. ArtsPlace is a working center for individual and group activities in the visual and performing arts and features the juried work of Kentucky artists in its gallery, as well as free performances that range from classical music to jazz and from ballet to modern dance. The four-story building contains studios, a rehearsal and performance hall, and offices for numerous cultural groups; it is adjacent to the Lexington Opera House, where many of its organizations stage their presentations. The seasons of Lexington's performing arts groups generally run September through May; in summer, Shakespeare in the Park presents free outdoor performances.

Some of the groups housed at ArtsPlace are the Lexington Philharmonic, performing popular and classical concerts; Lexington Children's Theater, offering a full schedule of plays and dramatic workshops aimed at the younger set; the Lexington Ballet, which sponsors classic ballet performances and a dance school; and the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra Society, Inc., which sponsors two orchestras for young musicians, as well as the Actors' Guild of Lexington. The Living Arts and Science Center, which is housed in the restored Kinkead House mansion, encourages artistic expression and learning. Cinema buffs view new and classic films at the newly renovated Italian Renaissance style Kentucky Theater.

Musical groups in Lexington include the Guitar Society of LexingtonCentral Kentucky, a nonprofit arts organization that promotes and fosters awareness of the guitar as an instrument of classical music and sponsors several concerts annually; the University Artist Series, which annually sponsors a season of musical performances; and the Lexington Singers, a choral group of more than 120 singers who perform several holiday, pops, and classical concerts annually.

Lexington-area museums display a wide variety of art and artifacts. The Headley-Whitney Museum contains the unique artifacts and reflects the interests of Lexington artist George Headley. The museum consists of three buildings and features a shell grotto, a jewel room filled with miniatures fashioned from precious gems and metals, an Oriental gallery, an art library, and other changing exhibits. The Lexington Children's Museum provides interactive exhibits for children from one to twelve years old. Special galleries focus on the environment, human growth, local history, play, foreign travel, and science. At the University of Kentucky Art Museum, a collection of fourteenth-through twentieth-century European, American, African, and Pre-Columbian art is on display. Tracing the culture and development of Kentucky man from the Paleoindians to the Shawnee, the William S. Webb Museum of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky features textiles, kinship art, and religion. The American Saddle Horse Museum at the Kentucky Horse Park offers a multimedia theater presentation and a touch-screen interactive video photo file of world champion horses. The Aviation Museum of Kentucky features restored historic aircraft.

Notable buildings in Lexington include Loundon House, a unique castellated Gothic Villa that serves as the headquarters of the Lexington Art League, and the restored Senator John Pope House, one of the last remaining examples of the work of architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who designed the U.S. Capitol.

Festivals and Holidays

Seasonal events in Lexington include the LexArts weekend in February; a St. Patrick's Day parade in March; a Festival of the Bluegrass in June; a week-long July Fourth celebration; a Woodland Arts Fair in August; a Roots and Heritage Festival in September; and the Southern Lights Holiday Festival in November and December, which includes a downtown Christmas Parade. Downtown Lexington hosts an annual Mayfest that features more than 100 artists, traditional Maypole dances, strolling entertainment, and tours of historic Gratz Park, where the event takes place. There are dozens of horse shows around town and at the Kentucky Horse Park throughout the year, including the Kentucky Three-Day Event in April that is the only four-star event of its kind. Touchdown Downtown takes place before and after home UK football games, providing fans transportation to and from the stadium and encouraging shopping and dining downtown. Equestrian events abound in the Lexington area, highlighted by the Blue Grass Stakes Race in April; July's Junior League Horse Show, the nation's largest outdoor saddlebred show; and Summer Yearling Sales at Keeneland, also in July. Lexington's arts calendar includes such summertime events as Festival of the Blue Grass, Shakespeare Festival, and the Woodland Arts Fair.

Sports for the Spectator

In 2001, minor-league baseball returned to Lexington for the first time in 50 years when the Lexington Legends began play at state-of-the-art Applebee's Park. The $13.5 million ballpark seats 6,000 and features more than 20 luxury suites as well as two lawn areas where fans can picnic as they watch the game. The Lexington Horsemen play at UK's Rupp Arena and were 2004 champions of the United Indoor Football league. Of course, the University of Kentucky (UK) competes in a wide variety of Division I collegiate sports. The Wildcats basketball team plays at Rupp Arena and has won more NCAA championships than any program in history and is arguably, next to horse racing, the overriding sports passion in the Bluegrass State. The UK football team also plays in the top-tier Southeastern Conference; games are played at Commonwealth Stadium. Memorial Coliseum is the site of the University of Kentucky Lady Cats games and the Transylvania Pioneers play at McAlister Auditorium.

The real sports attraction in Lexington, however, involves its famous four-legged athletes. Thoroughbreds are the champions of the Bluegrass Country, and Lexington is considered the world's horse capital. Lexington's full calendar of equestrian events includes horse shows, dressage events, racing, polo, steeplechases, fox hunting, and horse sales.

The Keeneland Race Course is the scene of fine thorough-bred racing during April and October. The highlight of the spring meet is the Blue Grass Stakes, the last major race before the Kentucky Derby (held in Louisville but simulcast and celebrated wholeheartedly in Lexington). Horse sales are scheduled four times annually in a world-famous pavilion; facilities include a private clubhouse, a grandstand that accommodates 5,000 people, and stables for 1,200 horses. Transcontinental aircraft from Greece, the United Arab Emirates, and England berth at Bluegrass Field each year while their passengers participate in the Keeneland Summer Select Sales. The beautifully landscaped course was established in 1936 on Keene family property, which was part of a 1783 land grant from patriot Patrick Henry, a cousin of the family. Steeped in the gentile tradition of the Old South, the track even provides ladies with parasols when the sun is reflecting off the copper roof.

The Red Mile Harness Track, built in 1875, is the nation's oldest active harness course. It has the reputation of being the fastest track in the world because more world records have been set at this one-mile, red clay track than at any other. Racing meets are held here in the spring, summer, and fall, with the Kentucky Futurity, the final jewel in trotting's Triple Crown, held in October. The Junior League Horse Show, the nation's largest outdoor Saddlebred show, is held at the Red Mile in July of each year. The Lexington Polo Club holds matches from June through October at the Kentucky Horse Park, and the U.S. Open Polo Championship occurs in September.

Sports for the Participant

The Lexington Area Sports Authority was established in 2002 to promote amateur sports in the area by bringing in, and supporting, quality amateur athletic events, including youth tournaments in a variety of sports and the unique Bluegrass State Games every summer.

Lexington sees its beautiful countryside as both an attraction and an enhancement to its way of life, and the city has long sought to protect and preserve green space. More than 100 parks comprising four thousand acres serve citizens and visitors with a variety of services, facilities, and programs, including ballfields, summer playground programs, cultural activities, fitness trails, golf courses, swimming pools, and city-wide special events and contests. Special parks include McConnell Springs, a 26-acre natural pocket within an industrial area; Shillito Park, which contains softball, baseball, soccer, and football fields, tennis courts, a fitness trail with 18 exercise stations, and picnic shelters; Jacobson Park, which features a lake stocked with fish for anglers, a marina with pedalboats, a nature center, and an amphitheater; Masterson Station Park, the site of unique, comprehensive equestrian programs including clinics, lectures, and horseback riding lessons; and Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, which contains rare wildflowers, hiking trails, and picnicking facilities in a beautiful, informal setting.

Lexington's moderate climate offers plenty of incentive and opportunities for outdoor recreation, and when the temperatures dip low enough, residents can be found cross-country skiing, sledding, or ice skating in the parks and surrounding countryside. Lexington Ice Center and Sports Complex is open year-round for day and night sessions of skating lessons and hockey games. Lexington's milder climate and natural beauty makes golf an option throughout all but the coldest months. Fifteen public and semi-private courses are available to golfers, including such Pete Dye-designed layouts as Kearney Hill and Peninsula, as well as Picadome, Connemara, and High Point.

Shopping and Dining

Lexington has more than a dozen major shopping centers, including modern indoor malls that feature both large department stores and smaller specialty shops. Turfland Mall has department stores and retail shops, and Fayette Mall is the second-largest mall in Kentucky with more than 120 stores. The Shops at Lexington Center is convenient to downtown and the convention center. The city also offers plenty of boutique and specialty shopping areas. Clay Avenue Shops are a collection of stores in a former turn-of-the-century residential neighborhood. Victorian Square and Dudley Square are historic, renovated areas in the downtown with restaurants, fashions and Kentucky/Appalachian handicrafts. Chevy Chase Village is a thriving and eclectic mix of shops near the University. The Kentucky Store on Victorian Square has Kentucky souvenirs. Festival Market is a specialty food, retail, and entertainment center adjacent to Victorian Square. Also downtown are the Civic Center Shops, featuring Berea College crafts. Lexington's Farmers' Market is held every Saturday on West Vine Street and each Tuesday and Thursday at Maxwell and South Broadway, featuring fruits and vegetables, herbs, flowers, jams and jellies, honey, Kentucky specialties and more. The J. Peter-man Company, based in Lexington, operates a store in the city. Lexington is legendary for antique hunters; as a writer for The New York Times put it, antiquing in the Bluegrass is "a chance to unearth some great buys in American antiques and, in the bargain, enjoy some of the most beautiful rural countryside anywhere." There are three antique malls within the city limits, and more than 200 shops in the surrounding area.

Cuisines from around the world can be had in Lexington in myriad restaurants that range from casual to fine dining. Mid-south regional food specialties found in Lexington include the Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich, Derby Pie, cat-fish, country ham, southern fried chicken, spoonbread, hushpuppies, and chess pie. Some of the more popular restaurants serving up Bluegrass Fare include Café Jennifer on Woodland Ave., any of the several Ramsey's Diner restaurants around town, deShea's in Victorian Square, or Horse & Barrel right next door. For fine dining patrons visit Jonathan at Gratz Park, Metropol on West Short Street, or Le Deauville in the Historic District, among others. Lygnah's Irish Pub near the University of Kentucky campus was commended for its burgers in Southern Living magazine. Alfalfa's in the bottom floor of the new Downtown Arts Center has vegetarian fare.

Visitor Information: Lexington Convention and Visitor's Bureau, 301 East Vine Street, Lexington, KY 40507-1513; telephone (859)233-7299 or (800)845-3959

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Lexington: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Horses are a billion-dollar industry in the Bluegrass Country. Home to more than 450 horse farms, Lexington is surrounded by the greatest concentration of thoroughbred horse farms in the world. Rich limestone soil, lush grasses, and a moderate climate combine to create an ideal spot for the raising, breeding, and training of horses. The Bluegrass Country is the birthplace of the state's native breedthe American Saddlebredand a center for the breeding of the Standardbred.

While horse breeding is the area's big business, horse racing is probably its claim to fame. The local economy greatly benefits from tourists who come from around the world in large numbers. Keeneland Race Course and the Red Mile attract horse-lovers, experts, and gamblers from around the world. Kentucky Horse Park, a 1,032-acre park built on a former thoroughbred stud farm, is a major attraction.

Agriculture also benefits from the mineral-rich land. Kentucky is the leading producer of burley tobacco in the United States, with Lexington-Fayette County producing the largest crop. Corn, soybeans, alfalfa hay, wheat, and barley are also produced in the area, and Lexington is a major market for beef cattle as well. The Lexington metropolitan area exports more than $2.5 billion worth of goods and services annually; in addition to agricultural products, major exports include cars and printers.

The University of Kentucky, located in Lexington, is a center for educational conferences and sports attractions and is one of the Lexington area's major employers. The University provides local businesses and corporations with a ready supply of educated manpower and its considerable resources for problem solving and research. The school was established in 1865 as a flagship for agricultural research and development, and it owns 2,400 acres of land throughout the Bluegrass Country that is still used for that purpose.

But while the city and state of Kentucky fervently protect and promote the region's strong agricultural and horse-country identity, they also are making attempts to keep pace with economic trends. In the decade covering 1995 through 2005, Lexington has emerged as one of a handful of leading American cities in economic growth. Entrepreneur magazine recently named the city one of the top five in the southeast for small-business start-ups. Forbes magazine recognized Lexington as the 14th best place for business and careers in 2003; in 2004 the magazine named Lexington as the 9th best place in America for business. This reflects a concerted effort to diversify the area's economy toward more manufacturing and high-technology ventures. More than 100 major companies have located headquarters or facilities in Lexington. Toyota's multimillion-dollar assembly plant just north of Lexington employs close to 7,500 workers. Lexmark International, a Fortune 500 company, is the city's largest employer (6,784 people).

More than two dozen national organizationsmedical, research, scholarly and businessmake Lexington their home base. Industry analysts forecast continued progress for Lexington, targeting the area for both population growth and economic development into the 21st century. They predict particular strides in the areas of finance, insurance, and real estate, while community leaders continue to encourage the growth of high technology industries and planning marketing strategies to capitalize on tourism.

Items and goods produced: Paper products, air conditioning heating equipment, electric typewriters and computer printers, metal products, bourbon whiskey, industrial valves, peanut butter, furniture, feed, tobacco products, equine-related products, automobiles, construction equipment

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies:

Local programs

State laws exempt a broad group of commercial entities from local property taxation and limit local government taxation to a few classes of property. Commerce Lexington, the local Chamber of Commerce, provides an array of assistance to businesses thinking of starting up or relocating in greater Lexington, particularly minority-owned business through its Minority Business Development Program.

State programs

The state of Kentucky offers an extensive array of incentives for business start-up and expansion. Cities or counties may issue Industrial Revenue Bonds to finance land, buildings and machinery, and equipment and pollution control equipment. Low-interest state loans for fixed assets, Small Business Administration guaranteed loans, venture capital loans, bond financing of manufacturing plants, and state community development block grants are available under various circumstances. Both state and local property tax rates on real estate and tangible personal property remain low. Businesses are eligible for credits on annual debt service costs, start-up and annual rental costs, and recycling equipment. Credits are allowed for the hiring of persons who have been unemployed for more than 60 days. Credits are allowed for using Kentucky coal for industrial heating or processing. Major exemptions on state sales tax are available for resale items, machinery for new and expanded industry, raw material that becomes part of a manufactured product, certain supplies and industrial tools, and many other items. By way of Lexington's Foreign Trade Zone, companies may be exempt from customs duties if they meet specified criteria.

Job training programs

The Mayor's Career Resource and Training Center in Lexington offers corporate participants customized testing and assessment, pre-employment skills training, on-the-job training, entry-level skills training, skills upgrade training, and reimbursement of up to 50 percent of gross wages for the hiring of older workers. The state's employment service provides recruiting, testing, and job placement of industrial workers at no cost to employers. The Kentucky Bluegrass State Skills Corporation offers custom training of industrial worked to skill levels specified by industrial employers.

Development Projects

College basketball is a certifiable passion in Kentucky in general and Lexington in particular. Rupp Arena is home to the Kentucky Wildcats, one of the most storied basketball teams in college athletics. The arena and attached Lexington Convention Center underwent $50 million in renovations in 1999 and 2000; it also hosts major concerts, exhibitions, and other events.

Valvoline recently opened a new product development lab; the 25,000-square-foot, two-story facility cost $4.5 million.

The Lexington Downtown Development Authority announced plans in 2004 for construction of a 54-unit loft/residential development on Martin Luther King Boulevard near College Town. The non-profit group (in a joint venture with the city-county government, the University of Kentucky, and major downtown employers) also seeks to attract more people to live in downtown Lexington through a unique "Live Where You Work" program, which provides up to $15,000 in forgivable loans to individuals who build or renovate homes in the downtown area. Additionally, planning has begun on some major road work in downtown Lexington. The Newtown Pike Extension will alleviate traffic problems and create a modern thoroughfare carrying up to 25,000 automobiles daily and affecting more than 1,400 residents and businesses in the downtown area. Construction was scheduled to begin around 2010. The newly renovated Lexington Center provides 66,000 square feet of convention space and an additional 40,000 square feet of meetings and ballrooms.

In 2004 the city announced that the Belcan Engineering Group would open a new Engineering Design Center for the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. The project could bring up to 300 high-tech jobs downtown by the end of 2005. The city's largest employer, the University of Kentucky, also announced plans for a significant expansion of its medical complex.

Completed major development projects included Hamburg Pavilion, a 950,000-square-foot shopping center anchored by a Target and a 20-screen movie theater, and Lexmark International's investment of $70 million for research and development, and a new building which added 700 jobs. The downtown area is experiencing a resurgence attributed to the location of new businesses, two new business parks, and a courthouse.

Economic Development Information: Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, 330 E. Main St., P.O. Box 1968, Lexington, KY 40588-1968; telephone (606)226-1600; fax (859)233-3304

Commercial Shipping

Lexington's central location within Kentucky and the United States is attractive to manufacturers, distributors, and business interests. Easy access to two major interstate systems makes motor carrier service readily available. The city is within a day's drive of 75 percent of the nation's business activity. Since Toyota Motor Manufacturing chose to locate its multi award winning Camry/Avalon/Sienna manufacturing plant just 14 miles north of Lexington, the I-75/I-64 corridors have come to be known as "America's Auto Axis," reflecting the profusion of automotive suppliers which have located near enough to meet just-in-time inventory requirements for the Toyota, Saturn, Nissan, Honda, Ford and Corvette plants located within the immediate area. Two railroads provide freight service to Lexington. Lexington Bluegrass Airport (LEX) is a major international hub; numerous air freight companies maintain facilities there as well. There are also full-service international airports in nearby Louisville and Cincinnati.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Analysts rate Lexington high on the scale of available, quality labor. The University of Kentucky and eleven other nearby accredited colleges produce an ample supply of management-level workers, a particular concern of corporate and high technology businesses seeking to locate in the Bluegrass Country. Analysts also describe the area as having an abundance of clerical, skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers. According to executives at Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A., the "bottom line [for opening its $800 million American factory near Lexington] was the Central Kentucky work force and its ethic." The Fayette County School system is consistently rated as one of the nation's best, and of the 75 largest cities in the United States, Lexington ranks 6th in percentage of population having completed 16 years of school. The city's Partnership for Workforce Development coordinates efforts of employers, workers, educational and training facilities; offers access to testing and assessment services; and maintains a data base of area employers' needs and workers' capabilities. In 2000 Employment Review placed Lexington at number 15 on its list of the 20 best places to live and work in America; deciding factors included cost of living and job opportunities among others.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Lexington-Fayette metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 275,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 13,700

manufacturing: 40,700

trade, transportation, and utilities: 49,100

information: 5,900

financial activities: 11,000

professional and business services: 27,300

educational and health services: 34,800

leisure and hospitality: 27,300

other services: 10,500

government: 55,500

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $21.07

Unemployment rate: 2.8% (December 2004)

Largest employers (Lexington MSA, 2004 Number of employees
University of Kentucky 10,668
Toyota 7,990
Fayette County Schools 4,906
Lexmark (laser printers) 4,000
University of Kentucky Hospital 3,458
Lexington Fayette Urban County Government 3,090
Central Baptist Hospital 2,400
St. Joseph Hospital 2,000
Eastern Kentucky University 1,750
Johnson Controls 1,500

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Lexington area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $237,188

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 96.6 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: ranges from 2.0% to 6.0%

State sales tax rate: 6.0% (food, utilities, and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: 2.25% on wages plus 0.5% school tax

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: ranges from $.7690 to $.845 per $100 of assessed value (2004)

Economic Information: Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, 330 E. Main St., P.O. Box 1968, Lexington, KY 40588-1968; telephone (606)226-1600; Commonwealth of Kentucky, Cabinet for Workforce Development, Dept. for Employment Services, Frankfort KY 40621-0001

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Lexington: History

Permanent Community Established in 1779

Pioneer Daniel Boone was one of the first white men to explore the territory known today as the Bluegrass Country. The births of the United States and the city of Lexington occurred at nearly the same moment in history. In June 1775, a small band of pioneers who were camped in the bluegrass amid buffalo and Native American trails received word of the battle of Lexington, Massachusetts, that marked the beginning of the American Revolution. In a spirit of adventure and independence, the pioneers named their campsite for the historic conflict. Development of a permanent settlement was postponed for four years when several members of the patriotic group departed to enlist in the Continental Army. Hostile natives also discouraged pioneer incursion into this wilderness. Neighboring pioneer villages were plagued by the often violent resistance of the natives and many believed this opposition was incited and encouraged by the British.

The present-day state of Kentucky was, at that time, part of the far-flung properties of Virginia, visited only by hunters, surveyors, and explorers. In 1779 a party of settlers journeyed to Lexington from nearby Harrodsburg and erected several cabins and a stockade in an effort at establishing a permanent community. In 1780 the Virginia Assembly divided its sprawling Kentucky District into three countiesLincoln, Jefferson, and Fayette (named for the Revolutionary War hero, French General Mortier de Lafayette). The following year Lexington incorporated, became county seat of Fayette County, and was granted township status.

City Develops as Trading Center

The popular and fertile Bluegrass Country quickly attracted settlers from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Within two decades, Lexington, with eighteen hundred citizens, was the largest town in "western America." A thriving community of stores, taverns, hotels, and industries grew steadily in the protective curve of the Kentucky River, and Lexington became known as a major supply center linking east to west. Stores kept their shelves stocked with goods carted overland from Philadelphia and Baltimore and paid eastern merchants with hides, skins, furs, home-made linens, beef, ham, lard, and lumber. The development of farming added whiskey, tobacco, and hemp to the list of products exported to eager merchants to the east, west, and south.

Local Horse Industry Gets Its Start

Local fascination with the breeding, rearing, training, and racing of thoroughbred horses has always been an important element of life in the Bluegrass Country. The limestone soil, rich bluegrass, and mild climate combined to make the area prime horse country. The town's first race course was established shortly after 1788, when civic leaders banned the sport on downtown streets. Thoroughbreds, trotters, and saddle horses brought from Virginia and the Carolinas joined breeding stallions from England and Arabia during the early 1800s, and another industry was launched.

In 1787, the flourishing Lexington community expanded its communication and education services. John Bradford's printing press produced the state's first newspaper, the Kentucky Gazette. Log cabin schools gave way to a succession of private and semi-public schools, and a group of persuasive Lexington businessmen convinced the trustees of Transylvania College to relocate from Danville. The college established law and medical departments, attracted students from throughout the South, and added immeasurably to the prestige of the frontier town.

City Falters Economically Then Rallies

The Commonwealth of Kentucky split from Virginia in 1792 and was admitted as the fifteenth state in the Union. Lexington was its temporary capital and enjoyed considerable status as a seat of higher learning and an industrial center until shortly after the turn of the century, when the success of the steamboat gave the rival city of Louisville, located on the Ohio River, a distinct advantage. Development faltered in Lexington with the rise of the river cities, and by the time railroads established a much-needed link to the Ohio River, the economic damage was already evident in the unemployment rate, the number of declared bankruptcies, and the declining population.

Lexington's civic and business leaders then began to steer the town away from its fading industrial economy and encourage an emphasis on culture and education instead. Tax dollars were diverted toward promotion and support of the arts and the growth of Transylvania University. Gradually the frontier town gained a reputation as the "Athens of the West," and Transylvania was referred to by many as the "Harvard of the West." A measure of Lexington's success can be seen in rival Louisville's unsuccessful attempt, during the 1830s, to lure Transylvania's medical school to that town.

Although the state officially declared itself neutral, the Civil War pitted neighbor against neighbor within Kentucky. While their traditions were southern, many political and industrial influences were of the North. During the war years the horse racing industry was suspended, but progress was made in other areas. The University of Kentucky was established at Lexington in 1865 and thrives today, attracting students, researchers, and athletes. Horse racing experienced a resurgence after the war, and as the popularity of cigarettes grew among soldiers during the Civil and World Wars, tobacco farming became a major industry in the Lexington area.

Present-Day City in Growth Spurt

Modern Lexington's economy is still firmly based in horses, cattle, burley tobacco, and of course, the academic community of the University of Kentucky. During recent times, downtown Lexington has been revitalized by a surge of growth and new development, especially in the corporate service sectors of the economy; yet, through the work of such organizations as the Lexington Downtown Development Authority, the city has been diligent in preserving its roots through renovation and preservation of many of its historic buildings and neighborhoods. Called "the city in the park" because of its location in the middle of hundreds of beautiful, park-like horse farms, Lexington offers a charming blend of big-city amenities and small-town friendliness. In fact, Lexington was the first city in the country to create an urban service boundary to protect the surrounding countryside. Before, after and between meeting sessions at the modern Lexington Center convention complex, visitors will find plenty to see and do. History, art, and culture are all within easy and safe walking distance and include: beautiful historic office buildings, churches, and homes; many of Lexington's finest restaurants, specialty shops and galleries; and major performance and sports arenas. The city takes pride in the fact that crimes reported in 2004 were the lowest in more than 30 years. Lexington is part of a metropolitan statistical area comprised of Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jessamine, Madison, Scott, and Woodford counties.

Historical Information: Lexington Historic Preservation Office, 200 East Main St., Lexington, KY 40507; telephone (606)258-3265

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Lexington: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Historically known as an educational center in the South, Lexington has maintained its concern with providing excellence in education. The Fayette County Public School System was established when the Lexington and Fayette County Boards of Education merged in 1967. The district is managed by a five-member elected board and an appointed superintendent. In 2005 the district was comprised of 53 schools, including two schools for applied technology and one alternative school. SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory), STAR Math, and Commonwealth Accountability Testing (CATS) are district-administered assessment tests given to all Fayette County Public School enrollees. All elementary and select high schools in the district have English as a Second Language programs available. The Extended School Services program, a component of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, provides programs for students who need additional assistance with academic coursework; and the Kentucky Educational Technology System (KETS) was established to provide funding, standards, and procedures for connecting all classrooms in Kentucky to the Internet and to improve student achievement through the instructional use of technology.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Lexington-Fayette County public schools as of the 20042005 school year.

Total enrollment: 32,980

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 34

middle schools: 11

senior high schools: 5

other: 3 (2 technical schools and 1 alternative school)

Student/teacher ratio: 12.82

Teacher salaries average: $42,748

Funding per pupil: $7,627

In addition to the public school system, Lexington has more than 12 private schools, including religious and nondenomi-national institutions.

Public Schools Information: Fayette County Public Schools, 701 E. Main St., Lexington, KY 40502-1699; telephone (859)381-4100

Colleges and Universities

Lexington is the home of the University of Kentucky (UK), which enrolls more than 24,000 students and was established in 1865. UK is home to 16 major colleges including schools of medicine, law, engineering, arts and sciences, and business. Lexington Community College is located on the campus of the University of Kentucky. Transylvania University is a small four-year institution affiliated with the Christian Church; it was established in 1780. Within a 40-mile radius are Eastern Kentucky University and seven other colleges: Asbury, Berea, Centre, Georgetown, Kentucky State, Midway, and Southeastern Christian Junior. Together they award undergraduate and advanced degrees in a full range of fields, including medicine, law, engineering, economics, architecture, and library science. The city is also home to two theological seminaries and several vocational and business schools.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Lexington Public Library's collection includes more than 650,000 book volumes plus magazines, films, audio and video tapes, filmstrips, microfiche and microfilm, and art reproductions. The library system includes the Central Branch on East Main St., plus five branch libraries, a full-service outreach program, and an innovative new English/Spanish Information Kiosk that allows access to library databases from a nearby Wal-Mart store. The library also houses a collection of early Kentucky newspapers and books and the Lexington Urban County Documents Collection. The University of Kentucky Libraries hold more than 2.5 million book volumes and numerous special collections, including Appalachiana and government documents. Other Lexington-area libraries include those associated with academic institutions, hospitals, museums, religious organizations, and corporations. The unique Keeneland Library is devoted to thoroughbred horse racing and contains 10,000 volumes, 1,500 videocassettes, 225,000 photo negatives and nearly every edition of the Daily Racing Form dating back to 1896.

Nearly 42 of the 66 research centers in Lexington are affiliated with the University of Kentucky. They conduct research activities in such fields as life sciences, social and cultural studies, private and public policy and affairs, physical sciences, engineering, tobacco production, and multi-disciplinary programs. The Kentucky Rural Health Works Program, an offshoot of the school's Agricultural College, seeks to help rural Kentucky communities make informed decisions in the development of their health facilities. The University of Kentucky Coldstream Research Campus is dedicated to the development of knowledge-based firms. Once a prominent bluegrass horse farm, Coldstream provides a synergetic research camp environment for science and technology-focused businesses, and University of Kentucky faculty, staff, and students. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducts research at Lexington centers in astronomy and other areas. Other subjects of research facilities include horses, asphalt, energy (particularly coal), and tobacco. The Kentucky Center for Public Issues focuses on matters of concern to the general public.

Public Library Information: Lexington Public Library, 140 E. Main St., Lexington, KY 40507-1376; telephone (859)231-5504; fax (859)231-5598

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Since its founding in 1779, Lexington has been one of Kentucky's major urban areas. Surveyors working along South Elkhorn Creek identified the site for a town in the spring of 1775. Tradition states that upon learning of the American victory in April of that year over the British at Lexington, Massachusetts, they vowed to return and establish a town named in honor of that historic battle of the American Revolution. Four years later Robert Patterson, who had been one of the surveyors, led a party of settlers from nearby Harrodsburg to the site and founded Lexington. Once the Revolutionary War and significant Indian hostilities came to an end, town leaders set about improving the town. Located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region and being its population center, Lexington thrived as a major intersection for roads through the state and was its fastest-growing town. When Fayette County was formed in 1780, Lexington was named its seat. Although Lexington was not selected as Kentucky's capital, the first state legislature assembled in the town during June 1792. By 1800 Lexington had become Kentucky's major urban center, boasting fine homes and estates, manufacturing and mercantile businesses, a university, a newspaper, and cultural attractions.

The combination of population, economic growth, and cultural and educational attainment resulted in town leaders proclaiming Lexington the "Athens of the West." In 1789 Transylvania Seminary (chartered in 1780 and originally opened in Danville, Kentucky) held its first classes in Lexington. In 1798 its name was changed to Transylvania University. It is the oldest university west of the Appalachians. The school struggled in its early years, but from 1818 to 1825 it thrived under the leadership of the Reverend Horace Holley. Its law and medical schools were among the best in the nation. Among its students during this period were future U.S. senator Henry Clay, future vice president John Breckinridge, and future associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Thomas Todd. Lexington also had the first mental hospital west of the Appalachians. Incorporated in 1816 as Fayette Hospital, eight years later it became the state-funded Eastern Lunatic Asylum (later Eastern State Hospital), the second state-funded mental institution in America.

This climate of learning and public works was supported by an active publishing business. On 11 August 1787, the first issue of the Kentucky Gazette, Kentucky's first newspaper, appeared. From the Gazette office a variety of books, pamphlets, and broadsides were published in addition to the newspaper, including the Kentucky Almanac and early editions of the Acts and the Journals of the state legislature.

Business also thrived in Lexington. Its central location made it a major marketing and supply source for both agricultural, livestock, and manufactured products. In 1802 it boasted printing houses, powder mills, ropewalks, factories, stores with fine goods from the East, skilled artisans, and bustling inns and taverns. Some of Kentucky's earliest livestock, agricultural, and mechanical fairs were held in Lexington. The wealth and education centered in the town, together with its prosperity, fostered the establishment of a library, theater, dancing school, churches, and other institutions.

Lexington's importance was reflected in its rapid population growth. The ethnic composition of Lexington's population was primarily English, Scots-Irish, German, and Irish. African Americans also constituted a significant proportion of the population. The U.S. census for 1790 listed Lexington's population as 834. Ten years later it had increased to 1,795 (including 462 African Americans [439 of whom were enslaved], or 24 percent of the population), and in 1810 it was 4,326 (including 1,594 African Americans [of whom 1,509 were slaves], or 35 percent of the population). Growth continued, but albeit at a slower pace, over the next two decades to a reported 6,026 in 1830. This total included 2,286 African Americans (2,065 of whom were enslaved), or 34 percent of Lexington's population. The town's central Bluegrass location, in the heart of Kentucky's highest slave concentration, resulted in its becoming a major slave-trading center. The decades following 1830 witnessed Lexington's continued success and importance, although it lost its standing as Kentucky's preeminent town.

See alsoKentucky; Mental Illness .


Staples, Charles R. The History of Pioneer Lexington, 1779–1806. Lexington, Ky.: Transylvania Press, 1939. Reprint, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996.

Wright, John D., Jr. Lexington: Heart of the Bluegrass. Lexington, Ky.: Lexington-Fayette County Historic Commission, 1982.

James J. Holmberg

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Lexington:1 City (1990 pop. 225,366), seat of Fayette co., N central Ky., in the heart of the bluegrass region; inc. 1832, made coextensive with Fayette co. 1974. The outstanding center in the United States for the raising of thoroughbred horses, it is also an important market for tobacco, livestock, and bluegrass seed as well as a railroad shipping point for E Kentucky's oil, coal, farm produce, and quarry products. Lexington has railroad shops and plants making fixtures, metal products, processed foods, machinery, and transportation and electronic equipment. The Univ. of Kentucky and Transylvania Univ. are there, as is Keeneland Racetrack.

Places of interest include "Ashland," the home of Henry Clay (designed by Latrobe in 1806 and rebuilt with the original materials in the 1850s); "Hopemont," the home of John Hunt Morgan (1811); the Thomas Hart house (1794); the home of Mary Todd Lincoln; and the library, which has a file of the Kentucky Gazette, founded by John Bradford in 1787. Lexington cemetery contains the graves of Clay, Morgan, J. C. Breckinridge, and the author James Lane Allen, and a national cemetery is near the city. The city was named in 1775 by a group of hunters who were encamped on the site when they heard the news of the battle of Lexington.

2 Town (1990 pop. 28,974), Middlesex co., E Mass., a residential suburb of Boston; settled c.1640, inc. 1713. On Apr. 19, 1775, the first battle of the Revolution was fought there (see Lexington and Concord, battles of). The site is marked by a monument on the triangular green, around which are several 17th- and 18th-century buildings, including Buckman Tavern (1710), where the minutemen assembled. Other attractions are Monroe Tavern (1695), British headquarters during the battle; and the Hancock-Clarke House (1698), where John Hancock and Samuel Adams were awakened by Paul Revere's alarm. The first state normal school in the country was established there in 1839. The theologian and reformer Theodore Parker was born in Lexington.

See F. S. Piper, Lexington, the Birthplace of American Liberty (11th ed. 1963).

3 City (1990 pop. 16,581), seat of Davidson co., central N.C., in the Yadkin valley; inc. 1827. Paper products, food, machinery, lumber, furniture, and textiles are manufactured.

4 Town (1990 pop. 6,959), seat of Rockbridge co., W central Va., in the Shenandoah valley, in a lush farm area near Natural Bridge; laid out 1777, inc. 1841. The town was bombarded and partially burned by Gen. David Hunter in 1864. Lexington is the seat of Virginia Military Institute (V.M.I.) and Washington and Lee Univ. It is also the burial place of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The Lee family crypt and museum is located on the campus of Washington and Lee Univ. The home of Stonewall Jackson, who taught at V.M.I., retains many of his possessions; he is buried in Lexington cemetery.

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Lexingtonbaton, batten, fatten, flatten, harmattan, Manhattan, Mountbatten, paten, patten, pattern, platen, Saturn, slattern •Shackleton • Appleton •Hampton, Northampton, Rockhampton, Southampton, Wolverhampton •Canton, lantern, Scranton •Langton, plankton •Clapton •Aston, pastern •Gladstone •Caxton, Paxton •capstan • Ashton • phytoplankton •Akhenaten, Akhetaten, Aten, Barton, carton, Dumbarton, hearten, Parton, smarten, spartan, tartan •Grafton •Carlton, Charlton •Charleston • kindergarten •Aldermaston •Breton, jetton, Sowetan, threaten, Tibetan •lectern •Elton, melton, Skelton •Denton, Fenton, Kenton, Lenten, Trenton •Repton •Avestan, Midwestern, northwestern, Preston, southwestern, western •sexton •Clayton, Deighton, Leighton, Paton, phaeton, Satan, straighten, straiten •Paignton • Maidstone •beaten, Beaton, Beeton, Cretan, Keaton, neaten, Nuneaton, overeaten, sweeten, uneaten, wheaten •chieftain •eastern, northeastern, southeastern •browbeaten • weatherbeaten •bitten, bittern, Britain, Briton, Britten, handwritten, hardbitten, kitten, Lytton, mitten, smitten, underwritten, witan, written •Clifton •Milton, Shilton, Stilton, Wilton •Middleton • singleton • simpleton •Clinton, Linton, Minton, Quinton, Winton •cistern, Liston, piston, Wystan •brimstone • Winston • Kingston •Addington • Eddington •Workington •Arlington, Darlington •skeleton •Ellington, wellington •exoskeleton •cosmopolitan, megalopolitan, metropolitan, Neapolitan •Burlington • Hamilton • badminton •lamington • Germiston • Penistone •Bonington • Orpington • Samaritan •Carrington, Harrington •sacristan • Festschriften •Sherrington • typewritten •Warrington • puritan • Fredericton •Lexington • Occitan • Washington •Whittington • Huntington •Galveston • Livingstone •Kensington •Blyton, brighten, Brighton, Crichton, enlighten, frighten, heighten, lighten, righten, tighten, titan, triton, whiten •begotten, cotton, forgotten, ill-gotten, misbegotten, rotten •Compton, Crompton •wanton • Longton •Boston, postern •boughten, chorten, foreshorten, Laughton, Morton, Naughton, Orton, quartan, quartern, shorten, tauten, torten, Wharton •Alton, Dalton, Galton, saltern, Walton •Taunton • Allston • Launceston •croton, Dakotan, Minnesotan, oaten, verboten •Bolton, Doulton, molten •Folkestone • Royston •Luton, newton, rambutan, Teuton •Houston • Fulton •button, glutton, Hutton, mutton •sultan •doubleton, subaltern •fronton • Augustan • Dunstan •tungsten • quieten • Pinkerton •charlatan • Wollaston • Palmerston •Edmonton • automaton • Sheraton •Geraldton • Chatterton • Betterton •Chesterton • Athelstan •burton, curtain, uncertain •Hurston

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LEXINGTON, a name given to four American ships: (1) A Continental brig that, under Capt. John Barry, captured the British sloop Edward in April 1776, off Chesapeake Bay. In 1777 it cruised about Ireland under Henry Johnson, but was captured in September of that year. (2) A store ship that, under Lt. Theodorus Bailey, captured San Blas, Mexico, in 1848, in the final naval operation of the Mexican War. (3) A Union sidewheeler, later armored, that fought at Belmont, Miss., Fort Henry, Tenn., and on the Red River, 1861–1863. At Shiloh it saved Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's army from being driven back in utter defeat the first day of the battle. (4) A World War II aircraft carrier that participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea, 7–9 May 1942, the first major check to Japan's advance in the Pacific. The Lexington was so badly damaged that it had to be sunk by an American destroyer.


Johnston, Stanley. Queen of the Flat-Tops: The U.S.S. Lexington and the Coral Sea Battle. New York: Dutton, 1942.

Walter B.Norris/a. r.

See alsoAircraft Carriers and Naval Aircraft ; Coral Sea, Battle of the ; Mexican-American War ; Shiloh, Battle of .

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Lexington: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 371,000

1990: 405,936

2000: 479,198

Percent change, 19902000: 15.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 103rd MSA

U.S. rank in 1990: 106th MSA

U.S. rank in 2000: 85th MSA

City Residents

1980: 204,165

1990: 225,366

2000: 260,512

2003 estimate: 266,798

Percent change, 19902000: 7.6%

U.S. rank in 1980: 68th

U.S. rank in 1990: 70th (State rank: 2nd)

U.S. rank in 2000: 70th (State rank: 1st)

Density: 914.1 people per square mile (2000; Lexington-Fayette County)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 211,120

Black or African American: 35,116

American Indian and Alaska Native: 507

Asian: 6,407

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 83

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 8,561

Other: 4,390

Percent of residents born in state: 94.1 (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 16,146

Population 5 to 9 years old: 15,711

Population 10 to 14 years old: 14,947

Population 15 to 19 years old: 18,422

Population 20 to 24 years old: 28,355

Population 25 to 34 years old: 44,542

Population 35 to 44 years old: 41,824

Population 45 to 54 years old: 34,491

Population 55 to 59 years old: 11,275

Population 60 to 64 years old: 8,625

Population 65 to 74 years old: 13,890

Population 75 to 84 years old: 9,149

Population 85 years and older: 3,135

Median age: 33.0 years

Births (2002)

Total number: 3,614

Deaths (2002)

Total number: 2,049 (of which, 22 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $23,109

Median household income: $39,813

Total households: 108,411

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 11,076

$10,000 to $14,999: 7,669

$15,000 to $24,999: 15,426

$25,000 to $34,999: 13,862

$35,000 to $49,999: 17,501

$50,000 to $74,999: 20,068

$75,000 to $99,999: 10,334

$100,000 to $149,999: 7,527

$150,000 to $199,999: 2,227

$200,000 or more: 2,721

Percent of families below poverty level: 8.2% (of which 45.3% were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 12,521

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Lexington: Introduction
Lexington: Geography and Climate
Lexington: History
Lexington: Population Profile
Lexington: Municipal Government
Lexington: Economy
Lexington: Education and Research
Lexington: Health Care
Lexington: Recreation
Lexington: Convention Facilities
Lexington: Transportation
Lexington: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1775 (incorporated 1781)

Head Official: Mayor Teresa Isaac (D) (since 2002)

City Population

1980: 204,165

1990: 225,366

2000: 260,512

2003 estimate: 266,798

Percent change, 19902000: 7.6%

U.S. rank in 1980: 68th

U.S. rank in 1990: 70th (State rank: 2nd)

U.S. rank in 2000: 70th (State rank: 1st)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 371,000

1990: 405,936

2000: 479,198

Percent change, 19902000: 15.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 103rd

U.S. rank in 1990: 106th

U.S. rank in 2000: 85th

Area: 284 square miles (Lexington-Fayette) (2000)

Elevation: Approximately 966 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 54.9° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 44.6 inches

Major Economic Sectors: horses, tobacco, services, wholesale and retail trade, government

Unemployment rate: 2.8% (December 2004)

Per Capita Income: $26,912 (2004)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 12,521

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Kentucky, Transylvania University

Daily Newspaper: Lexington Herald-Leader