Major Industries and Commercial Activity
The geography of Louisville, specifically its river accessibility, central location, and mild climate have contributed to its importance as a center for industry and commerce. Kentucky has historically been a mining and agricultural state, but Louisville has greatly diversified its economic base in recent years. The city has traditionally been a manufacturing center for durable goods including appliances, cars and trucks. More recently, the area's economy has diversified, bringing with it more skilled and high-tech employment opportunities.
Like the rest of Kentucky, Louisville is undergoing a new era of economic development, with the public and private sectors working together to attract new industries while retaining existing businesses. In 2003, Entrepeneur magazine ranked Louisville #1 for "Best City for Small Business Growth." The same magazine also ranked the city #15 nationally and 2nd in the Midwest in a list of the "Top 25 Best Cities for Entrepreneurs."
The Louisville area is headquarters to some of the nation's top companies, including Fortune 500 companies Yum! Brands Inc., which includes KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken), Kindred Healthcare and Humana Inc. One of the better-known industries based in Louisville is Hillerich & Bradsby, makers of the famous "Louisville Slugger" baseball bat. The headquarters for Presbyterian Church (USA) and the American Printing House for the Blind, the official source of texts for the visually impaired, are also in the city. Ford Motor Co. has two plants in the area that produce the Explorer, Sport Trac, Mountaineer, commercial light trucks, and F-series pick-ups. Manufacturing plants for GE Consumer Products and Swift & Co. are also located in Louisville. Companies new to the area since 2000 are Charter Communications (cable TV), Gordon Foods, Linens n Things, and Reynolds/Alcoa.
The services sector is the leading economic sector in the region. In Greater Louisville, nearly 14,000 facilities employed 234,000 workers in 2001. Tourism leads the region's service industries; approximately 26,000 of these jobs are generated by the tourism industry in Jefferson County. Travelers spend nearly $1.2 billion a year in the county, and more than 880,000 convention delegates visited Louisville in 2000-2001. Greater Louisville is also an important center for local, state, and federal government agencies, which employ more than 71,000 area residents. The Kentucky Air National Guard and Army National Guard are headquartered at the Louisville International Airport's Standiford field; the U.S. Defense Department operates the Defense Mapping Agency and a veteran's hospital in the area; and the U.S. Corp of Engineers maintains the McAlpine Locks and Dam.
Items and goods produced: chemicals, automobiles, machinery, electrical appliances, processed foods, published materials, farm tools, aluminum, industrial machinery, lumber, timber products, baked goods, office products
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
Greater Louisville Inc. is the agency responsible for working with new and existing businesses to create new jobs and capital investment in Louisville. It was formed by the merger of the Greater Louisville Economic Development Partnership and the Louisville Chamber of Commerce. A $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration in 2002 is providing support to Greater Louisville Inc. for the recruitment and training of healthcare workers. The award became known as the Kentuckiana Healthcare Workforce Initiative. In addition to low taxes and low costs of doing business, Louisville offers a variety of financial incentives. Among them are the Louisville Metro Manufacturing Tax Moratorium which offers new or expanding manufacturing operations a five-year moratorium on all assessed property and real estate taxes. The Louisville Metro Brownfields Loan Program provides financing for economic development in older industrial areas of the city. Greater Louisville's Foreign Trade Zone is located within Clark Maritime Center, Eastpoint Business Center, Jefferson Riverport International and the Greater Louisville Technological Park.
The following incentives are available: Kentucky Jobs Development Act, Kentucky Industrial Development Act, low interest loans, industrial revenue bonds, community development block grants, enterprise zone, foreign trade zone, Bluegrass State Skills Corporation, job recruitment and placement, and Indiana incentives.
Job training programs
The unique partnership of the University of Louisville, Jefferson Community College, Jefferson Technical College and UPS established the Metropolitan College. The College addresses workforce needs by providing special curricula and work-friendly class schedules that cater to the needs of college students who work at night, enabling them to study for technical certifications, two-year, or four-year degrees. The Bluegrass State Skills Corporation (BSSC) provides training grants and investment credits for job training projects.
In 2001 a $121 million, two-phase plan was unveiled for major construction and renovations at one of the area's biggest attractions, Churchill Downs. With Phase One construction finished by 2003, part of the changes included more seating, new viewing suites, a new club and meeting space, renovation of the first floor grandstand, and new elevators. Phase Two of the construction, underway in early 2005, includes modernization of the clubhouse, installation of lights around the track, new restaurant and entertainment areas, and a year-round satellite wagering facility with seating. Phase Two is expected to be completed by the 2005 Kentucky Derby, held on the first Saturday in May.
Construction and revitalization activity in Louisville was brisk in the mid-2000s. Recent development in the city includes the Southeastern Christian Church with its $31 million, 294,100-square-foot Worship Center, a seven-story, nearly circular-shaped structure featuring white precast concrete exterior wall panels and a copper-colored roof. The Louisville Extreme Park is a public skatepark owned and operated by Metro Louisville. Opened to the public in 2002, the park features a 24-foot full pipe, 40,000 square feet of outdoor concrete skating surface and a wooden vertical ramp for skateboarders, inline skaters, and bikers. Glassworks, an eight-story historic building in downtown Louisville, has been converted into 41 loft apartments, office and commercial space, an artglass studio and restaurant. The new 4th Street Live! is a $75 million redevelopment of the former antiquated Louisville Galleria in the heart of downtown. Opened in 2004, the refurbished entertainment and retail district offers restaurants, bars, nightclubs, a comedy club, and live music, as well as a food court and a half dozen retail shops.
Louisville also has several development projects on the drawing board or in the first stages of completion. The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage project encompasses the renovation of four historic trolley barns as a center for the telling of the story of African Americans in Kentucky. The Center, scheduled for completion in March 2005 in the historic Russell district of Louisville, houses a museum, research center, artists' studio, sculpture garden and shops. Also scheduled to open in spring 2005 is the Muhammed Ali Center, a museum dedicated to the ideals of Muhammed Ali. Exhibits showcase his biography and other Center features include educational classrooms, theater, auditorium, exhibits gallery, library, shops, and a cafe. The Louisville Medical Center Development Corporation, created to capitalize on the economic development opportunities in the Medical Center, has plans to add to its three research park facilities which currently house life science, medical device, and health care technology companies. The planned expansion includes 700,000 square feet of wet lab and office space. Two new office/warehouse facilities will be built at Freeport Center at Riverport, about 10 miles outside Louisville's central business district in a thriving part of town. Park DuValle is a new $180 million revitalization project scheduled for completion in 2008. This development will restore a 125-acre urban neighborhood and feature 450 homes, 600 apartments, schools, parks, a health center, shops, and churches.
Economic Development Information: Greater Louisville Inc., 614 West Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202; telephone (502)625-0000. Kentucky Cabinet For Economic Development, 500 Mero Street, Capital Plaza Tower, Frankfort KY 40601; telephone (502)564-7140; (800)626-2930. Louisville Metro Development Authority, 444 South Fifth Street, Suite 600, Louisville, KY 40202; telephone (502)574-4140; fax (502)574-4143.
Louisville's economy is served by 40 motor carriers and Louisville is home to CSX and Norfolk Southern Railroad systems that connect the city with major markets in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Louisville is the international air-freight hub for United Parcel Service; UPS Worldport handles the twelfth-largest amount of cargo tonnage in the world and offers next-day air service to 200 markets, including China, the Far East, Europe and Russia. The Louisville International Airport handles 3.6 billion tons of cargo annually. Another important component in the local economy is the Port of Louisville, which handles an average of seven million tons of cargo yearly.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Louisville boasts a steadily growing number of workers. Between 1990 and 2000, Greater Louisville added more than 160,000 net jobs, the greatest growth in the area's history, according to The Louisville Labor Force 2003 report by the University of Louisville. The employment rate grew 13 percent during this period, compared to an 11 percent growth nationally. A key element in this job picture is the growth in female employment. While the male employment rate in the area has seen little change since 1980, the female employment rate has risen 12 percent. Also contributing to the increasingly attractive employment outlook is the growth in the area's population. Despite a twenty-year trend of low birth rates and high mortality rates, the Louisville metropolitan area population began to reverse its declines through migration to the area in the 1990s. By the new millenium, its population grew almost as fast as the nation as a whole.
Louisville's workforce continues to suffer from a lack of educational attainment, especially compared to competitive markets. Its low rate of college attainment translates into relatively low earnings for workers. But Louisville has seen an improvement in the higher education of its young adult population in recent years. In the decade 1990 to 2000, young people aged 25 to 34 completing college increased from 20 percent to 27 percent.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Louisville metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 561,400
Number of workers employed in . . .
mining and construction: 29,300
transportation, communication, and utilities: 123,500
financial activities: 37,400
professional and business services: 62,900
educational and health services: 70,700
leisure and hospitality: 107,100
other services: 30,300
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $19.66
Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004)
|Largest private-sector employers (2004)||Number of employees|
|United Parcel Service||17,206|
|Ford Motor Company||9,903|
|Jewish Hospital Healthcare Services||5,450|
|GE Consumer Products||5,200|
|The Kroger Company||4,960|
|Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville||2,468|
|Baptist Hospital East||2,308|
|Caritas Health Services||2,147|
Cost of Living
Costs are lower than might be expected in a metropolitan area of Louisville's size, due in part to the fact that the population is spread out over seven largely rural counties in Kentucky and Indiana.
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Louisville area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $203,091
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 92.9 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.0% to 6.0%
State sales tax rate: 6.0% (groceries, medicines, and utility bills are exempt)
Local income tax rate: Averages 1.75%
Local sales tax rate: None
Property tax rate: Taxable property is assessed at 100% of the fair cash value of the property held on January 1. Rates per $100 of assessed valuation in 2003: State, $0.133; Jefferson County, $0.128; City of Louisville, $.3764; Jefferson County Schools, $0.5760.
Economic Information: Greater Louisville Inc., 614 West Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202; telephone (502)625-0000. Commonwealth of Kentucky, Department of Work-force Investment, Capital Plaza Tower, 500 Metro St., Frankfort, KY 40621-0001; telephone (502)564-6606.
Louisville offers a variety of recreational activities, from a leisurely steamboat excursion on the Ohio River to a fun-filled day at a theme park. The city's most famous attraction is Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby, held annually on the first Saturday in May. With a grandstand featuring trademark twin Edwardian spires, the track was established in 1874, and the first Derby was run the following year. Another of the area's most popular attractions is Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, a family adventure theme park featuring Chang, the tallest, longest, fastest stand-up roller coaster in the world.
The city retains a flavor of the past with its historic Main Street, a restored district that features the second-largest collection of cast-iron buildings in the United States (only New York City has more). Many homes have also been restored; regular tours are offered to visitors who wish to experience a taste of life as it was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Among the most popular residences are Locust Grove, the last home of Louisville founder George Rogers Clark; FarnsleyMoreman Landing, a nineteenth-century Kentucky "I" house with a two-story Greek Revival portico; the Farmington Historic Site, which features octagonal rooms; the Brennan House, the last remaining private home in downtown Louisville; the Culbertson mansion, an example of Second Empire architecture; and the Whitehall House and Gardens, a classic Revival antebellum mansion on ten acres. The Thomas Edison Butchertown House/Museum, a shotgun cottage, contains a collection of Edison inventions. Tours are available at the 1871 Spalding University Mansion and at Conrad-Caldwell House, a completely renovated 1895 home in "Old Louisville," a neighborhood of elegant nineteenth-century mansions. The Filson Historic Society is headquartered in a 1900s home and features artifacts, manuscripts, portraiture, special collections, and a library for historical and genealogical research. The Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage tells the story of African-Americans in Kentucky. The Zachary Taylor National Cemetery and Monument honors the dead of many wars, and the Cave Hill Cemetery and Arboretum is a historic 297-acre cemetery and botanical garden.
Nature lovers can visit the Louisville Zoo, which displays more than 1,300 animals in a 73-acre park-like setting. Twelve western lowland gorillas are on display at the zoo's popular Gorilla Forest habitat. The Louisville Nature Center is an urban oasis where visitors can enjoy more than 150 species of birds, wild animals and flower-decked trails. Buffalo Crossing is a working buffalo ranch in Shelbyville, complete with pony rides, a petting zoo, playground and restaurant.
Several local industries provide tours of their facilities. Among them are Jim Beam American Outpost, located about 25 miles south of the city; Hillerich & Bradsby, makers of the Louisville Slugger baseball bat; Philip Morris, one of the largest cigarette companies under one roof; and Louisville Stoneware Company, where visitors can paint their own pottery. American Printing House for the Blind and Callahan Museum, which creates products and services for the blind and visually impaired, offers plant and museum tours. Gray Line specializes in bus tours of the city. Horse-drawn carriages ride past historical sites, and public excursions on the Ohio River aboard the Belle of Louisville, Spirit of Jefferson, and Star of Louisville can also be arranged.
Caesar's Glory of Rome riverboat casino in Elizabeth, Indiana, provides gambling entertainment just across the Ohio River from Louisville. The complex includes a 503-room hotel, a 200,000-square-foot pavilion with a sports and entertainment coliseum seating 1,500 people, three restaurants, a retail shopping area, and an 18-hole golf course called Chariot Run designed by architect Arthur Hills.
Arts and Culture
The performing and visual arts flourish in Louisville, the first city to create a community fund for the arts. The Kentucky Center has four theaters that stage a variety of performances ranging from symphony, opera, and ballet to children's theater, a Broadway series, and country music.
Louisville's historic Water Tower is the home of Louisville Visual Art Association, a nonprofit, artist-oriented organization dedicated to the creation and appreciation of visual art in all media. The center offers free art classes for talented elementary and high school students; it also hosts year-round exhibitions and special events such as jazz concerts and the Boat Race Party during Derby Week. The new Glassworks galleries feature artists from around the world, as well as glass blowing workshops and classes.
Louisville is also home to theater groups, a symphony orchestra, an opera and a ballet company. Housed in a historic landmark built in 1837, the Tony-Award-winning Actor's Theatre of Louisville is internationally known for the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, one of the world's most important showcases for aspiring playwrights; other theater groups include Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theatre, Music Theatre Louisville which performs at Iroquois Amphitheater, the Kentucky Contemporary Theatre at Spalding University, and the Derby Dinner Playhouse in Clarksville, Indiana. Stage One: The Louisville Children's Theatre offers professional productions throughout the year at The Kentucky Center. The Louisville Orchestra offers five concert series. The Louisville Ballet offers a full subscription season of classical and contemporary dance, including performances of The Nutcracker. The Kentucky Opera has produced operas in Louisville since 1952.
The museums and galleries of Louisville highlight much that is unique to the city and the region. For example, the Kentucky Derby Museum is the world's largest equine museum, offering hands-on computerized simulated racing, a 360-degree audio-visual presentation about the Kentucky Derby, and a live thoroughbred exhibit. The Howard Steamboat Museum—the only museum of its kind in the United States—displays models of famous steamboats, tools, pilot wheels, and pictures. Located on the University of Louisville campus, J. B. Speed Art Museum is Kentucky's oldest; it houses collections of traditional and contemporary art and sculpture. The Louisville Slugger Museum showcases the famous bat and the history of the family that created it. Other local museums include the Eisenburg Museum; the Filson Club, which houses one of the nation's finest historical libraries; The Frazier Historical Arms Museum; and the Col. Harland Sanders Museum located at the KFC headquarters.
Among the museums dedicated to science and technology are Louisville Science Center, formerly the Museum of History and Science, which features hands-on exhibits and an aerospace collection as well as an IMAX theater. The Portland Museum features a light and sound show that carries viewers back to nineteenth-century Louisville. Located on the University's Belknap campus, Gheens Science Hall and the Rauch Memorial Planetarium offer multimedia astronomy presentations.
Festivals and Holidays
Louisville's major annual events calendar is full, beginning in February with the National Farm Machinery Show and Tractor Pull Championships, the nation's most popular and best-attended function of its kind. In April and May the city hosts the Kentucky Derby Festival offering 70 events. Held in conjunction with the running of the Kentucky Derby, it is one of the country's largest civic celebrations. The Great Steamboat Race and the Great Balloon Race are two of the more popular Derby events. The Cherokee Art Fair also occurs in April. May is the month for the Kentucky Reggae Festival.
The Greek Festival, Waterside Festival and Street Ball Showdown kick off the summer festivals and events in June. Taking place during the summer months is one of the oldest Shakespeare festivals in the nation, Shakespeare in Central Park. July brings the Operation/Coca-Cola Volleyball Classic, the Kentucky Music Weekend and the Waterfront Independence Festival celebration of the Fourth of July. The National Street Rod Association attracts more than 11,000 cars to the world's largest automotive participation event. The Kentucky State Fair runs for 10 days beginning in mid-August. The Strassenfest celebrating Louisville's German heritage and the World Championship Horse Show round out the summer activities.
September opens with the Bluegrass Festival of the United States, the country's largest free bluegrass music event featuring top-name bands. In mid-September is the Corn Island Storytelling Festival, the largest event of its kind in the United States. The Rock the Water Tower, Irish Family Festival and the Captain's Quarters Regatta are also held this month. October is the month for the St. James Court Art Show, the Bluegrass Fan Festival and the Lewis and Clark Ohio River Festival. The year ends with Christmas in the City, a Victorian Christmas celebration involving street vendors, carolers, and house tours. The Mayor's Midnight Special on New Year's eve is an outdoor family party.
Sports for the Spectator
Louisville's best-known sporting event is the Kentucky Derby. For racing fans, Louisville offers two horse-racing tracks, Churchill Downs (for thoroughbred racing) and Louisville Downs (for harness racing). Churchill Downs' spring racing dates are April through June; fall racing takes place in October and November. Louisville Downs features nighttime races in early spring, summer, and fall. Auto races are held at the Louisville Motor Speedway.
Louisville's $26 million, 13,000-seat Louisville Slugger Field is home to the RiverBats (formerly the Redbirds), a Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Slugger Field was named the 2004 Professional Baseball Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association for the second time in three years. The Louisville Fire is the city's Arena Football League team. The University of Louisville fields highly regarded football and basketball teams; the Cardinals play football at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Sports for the Participant
The Louisville park system maintains 11 urban parks, including four designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. These public parks contain more than 200 tennis courts, four 18-hole golf courses, five nine-hole golf courses, and 15 swimming pools. Twenty lakes in nine parks in the metropolitan area are stocked for fishing. Five parks located along the Ohio River provide access to river fishing. Water sports are also a favorite pastime on the river during the summer. The new Louisville Extreme Park offers skateboarding, in-line skating and biking on 40,000 square feet of concrete surface. Bicycling is a popular sport in Kentucky, and each fall the Louisville Wheelmen sponsor My Old Kentucky Home Bicycle Tour, a two-day event that draws more than 400 cyclists. Ice skating is another favorite sport; enthusiasts skate at the Alpine Ice Arena and the outdoor rink on the Belvedere downtown.
Shopping and Dining
Louisville offers a wide variety of retail establishments in more than 100 shopping centers, including enclosed malls and several neighborhood shopping areas. Starks Court atrium includes more than 30 distinctive retail shops and restaurants in the heart of downtown. The Forum Center is home to some of Louisville's most exclusive shops and Oxmoor Center features 110 specialty stores and three department stores. Jefferson Mall is a regional shopping center located near the airport. The Summit on the East End is one of Louisville's newest open air shopping centers. For outlet shoppers, Factory Stores of America is located in nearby Georgetown. In addition to the malls, many neighborhoods and individual streets have become meccas for shoppers. Main and Market Streets between 5th and 9th is the primary downtown shopping area. Antique shops, galleries and unique boutiques are plentiful in the Bardstown Road, Frankfort Avenue areas, and Chenoweth Lane in St. Matthews.
Dining in one of the city's restaurants can range from a casual meal at a fast-food establishment or a family treat at an ethnic cafe to an elegant event at a gourmet restaurant. Foods that have made Louisville famous are burgoo, originally a game stew made with squirrel, venison, or opossum—but now more likely to contain a blend of pork, beef, mutton, and chicken—in a spicy tomato sauce with a mixture of vegetables that might include cabbage, peppers, and potatoes; the Hot Brown, a layered sandwich of country ham, turkey, bacon, tomatoes, and cheese served bubbling hot; and the Benedictine, a delicate sandwich incorporating cream cheese and chopped cucumber.
Visitor Information: Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, 401 W. Main St., Suite 2300, Louisville, KY 40202; telephone (502)584-2121, (800)626-5646
LOUISVILLE , the largest city in Kentucky and home to its oldest and largest Jewish community. Jews may have owned land in the Louisville area as early as the late 18th century and a few arrived at the beginning of the 19th, but the first Jewish institutions arose in the city only in the 1830s. An Israelite Benevolent Society was listed in the Louisville city directory in 1832 and regular worship services were established around 1838. Louisville's first Jewish congregation dates from 1842, when Adath Israel was chartered. Jews continued to arrive in the city over the next decade, primarily from the German states and from Posen, and in 1851 a second congregation was established, known first as the Polish House of Israel and soon after as Beth Israel. A third congregation, Brith Sholom, was organized in 1880. Among early Adath Israel spiritual leaders was Bernhard Henry Gotthelf (1819–1878), in 1862 appointed the second Jewish chaplain of the Union Army. Both Adath Israel and Brith Sholom were early adopters of Reform practices. Other organizations established by Louisville's 19th-century German-Jewish settlers included a lodge of B'nai B'rith, chartered in 1852, and the Standard Club (forerunner of the Standard Country Club), established in 1883. Louisville's Jewish population stood at about 2,500 in 1880.
Toward the end of the 19th century, the city's most prominent Jewish residents included clothiers Moses and Henry Levy (arrived in Louisville in 1861); dry goods magnate Henry Kaufman and his colleague Benjamin Straus (partners in 1883); attorney Aaron Kohn (1854–1916), Jefferson County prosecutor and a Louisville alderman in the 1880s; distiller and philanthropist Isaac W. Bernheim (1848–1945); and lawyer and scholar Lewis Dembitz (1833–1907), city tax attorney from 1884 to 1888 and the uncle of Louis D. Brandeis, himself a Louisville native whose ashes are interred beneath the portico of the University of Louisville law school that bears his name.
Around the turn of the 20th century, East European Jews began arriving in large numbers and they tended to cluster in a cohesive downtown neighborhood centered on Preston Street. As elsewhere in America, they engaged both in commercial activities and in wage labor in trades such as tailoring and cigarmaking. Five new congregations were established in Louisville between 1882 and 1905, at least four of them byproducts of the influx of East Europeans and Orthodox in outlook. These congregations were B'nai Jacob (1882), Beth Hamedrash Hagodol (1887), Anshei Sfard (1893), Adath Jeshurun (1894, the successor to Beth Israel), and Agudath Achim (1905). In 1902, Louisville's Orthodox congregations banded together to hire a "chief rabbi" and arrange for the supervision of kashrut, the maintenance of a mikveh, and the organization of a Talmud Torah Society.
Louisville's East Europeans established a number of ethnic and cultural organizations as well. As early as 1907 there were three Zionist circles in Louisville and a Yiddish Literary Society was established around World War i. A chapter of Hadassah was organized in 1919. Louisville's Jewish population was reported to be 12,500 in 1927 and 13,800 in 1937. In the period after World War ii, the number of Jews in Louisville began to decline and the city's Jewish population, as well as its institutions, gradually migrated away from the downtown area, relocating mainly to the Highlands neighborhood at first, and then farther to the east as well. Louisville's Jewish population was reported as 8,500 in 1960 and 9,200 in 1984.
Already in the late 19th century, a number of Jewish service and welfare institutions were established in Louisville. These included a chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, organized in 1893; a Young Men's Hebrew Association (the forerunner of the Louisville Jewish Community Center), incorporated in 1890; and a social service agency called Neighborhood House, founded in 1896. In 1903, Louisville's Jewish Hospital was established to provide facilities for Jewish doctors who were denied staff privileges elsewhere and to care for patients who might prefer treatment in a Jewish environment. By the end of the 20th century, Jewish Hospital was a world leader in both artificial heart and hand transplant surgery.
As the number of Jewish welfare institutions in Louisville increased, a Federation of Jewish Charities was created around 1908. This body became the Jewish Welfare Federation by 1918 and the Jewish Social Service Agency in 1951. In 1934, a second coordinating body was established: the Louisville Conference of Jewish Organizations. Intended primarily as a fundraising agency, over time the Conference developed into the community's principal coordinating and public relations body as well, adopting the name Jewish Community Federation of Louisville in 1971.
A sampling of prominent Louisville Jews of the 20th century includes bacteriologist Simon Flexner (1863–1946); juvenile justice and welfare advocate Bernard Flexner (1865–1945); medical education reformer Abraham Flexner (1866–1959); attorney Charles W. Morris (1892–1961), a civic and political activist and a founder of the Louisville Conference of Jewish Organizations; art historian Justus Bier (1899–1990) and musicologist Gerhard Herz (1911–2000), both of whom fled Nazi Germany and joined the University of Louisville faculty in the 1930s; businessman and humanitarian Arthur S. Kling (1896–81); community stalwart Lewis D. Cole (b. 1913), onetime chairman of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council; Charles M. Leibson (1929–95), named a justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court in 1983; popular mayor Jerry Abramson (b. 1946), first elected in 1985; and community activist Marie Abrams (b. 1937), who became national chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in 2004.
Among the more prominent rabbis who served in Louisville were Adolph Moses (1840–1902), an advocate of a radical form of Judaism he called "Yahvism"; Hyman G. Enelow (1877–1934), later rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in New York; Asher L. Zarchy (1863?–1932), chief rabbi of the Orthodox community from 1903 until 1932; the civic-minded Joseph Rauch (1880–1957), for whom the city's planetarium is named; Simcha Kling (1922–91), author of the text Embracing Judaism; and Herbert Waller (1914–1994), active in interfaith work.
At the turn of the 21st century, the communal institutions in Louisville included, aside from the Jewish Federation and Community Center, the Jewish Family and Vocational Service, created in 1978 as a successor to the Jewish Social Service Agency; Shalom Tower, providing subsidized housing for the elderly; the Four Courts Senior Center, a nursing home facility; the Louisville Vaad Hakashruth; the Eliahu Academy and Torah Academy day schools; and several supplementary education programs. Louisville's congregations at the turn of the century were Anshei Sfard (Orthodox), Adath Jeshurun (Conservative), Keneseth Israel (Conservative, formed in 1926 by the merger of B'nai Jacob and Beth Hamedrash Hagodol), The Temple (Reform, created in 1976 by the merger of Adath Israel and Brith Sholom), and Temple Shalom (Reform, established in 1976). The Jewish population of the city at the turn of the century was approximately 8,700, with perhaps 10 percent being "new Americans" from the former Soviet Union.
C. Ely, Jewish Louisville: Portrait of a Community (2003); L.S. Weissbach, The Synagogues of Kentucky: Architecture and History (1995); H. Landau, Adath Louisville: The Story of a Jewish Community (1981); I. Rosenwaike, "The First Jewish Settlers in Louisville," in: The Filson Club History Quarterly, 53 (January 1979), 37–53.
[Lee Shai Weissbach (2nd ed.)]
Louisville was founded in 1778 at the Falls of the Ohio River. The falls (actually a series of usually navigable rapids extending for about two and one-half miles) are the only serious obstacle to navigation on the almost one-thousand-mile length of the Ohio. Virginia surveyors working in Kentucky had identified the site as an ideal location for a town as early as 1773. On 27 May 1778, Lieutenant Colonel George Rogers Clark landed on an island at the falls with a force of approximately 175 Virginia militiamen and 50 settlers. Crude cabins and a fortification were constructed, a corn crop planted, and the militia trained on what was named Corn Island. In late June, Clark launched his Illinois Campaign, the successful completion of which helped secure the Old Northwest Territory for the United States at the conclusion of the American Revolution. The settlers remained behind, moving to the south bank that autumn, where they built cabins and a fort. In 1779 the settlement was named Louisville in honor of King Louis XVI of France and the Franco-American alliance against Britain. It received its town charter in 1780.
Louisville's early growth was slow. As the most westerly American settlement, it was exposed to Indian attack and the threat did not end until the conclusion of the area's Indian wars in the mid-1790s. Because of its strategic location at the falls, Louisville's future success depended on the burgeoning river traffic and trade. It became a major jumping-off place for those going farther west (and often north and south). Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark met in Louisville in October 1803 to form their historic partnership, and the first permanent members of their Corps of Discovery were enlisted at the falls, thus forming the all-important foundation of the historic trek to the Pacific. The acquisition of New Orleans and the securing of free navigation of the Mississippi River in 1803 provided a significant boost to Louisville's fortunes. By the early 1800s thousands of flatboats and other river craft were landing at Louisville loaded with immigrants and goods. In 1811 the New Orleans, the first steamboat to ply the western waters, landed at Louisville. In 1815 the Enterprize, moving upstream, arrived from New Orleans. With significant upriver steamboat traffic now added to the well-established downriver trade, Louisville boomed. In 1830 the Louisville and Portland Canal opened, thus bypassing the obstacle of the falls and assuring an easier and more reliable transit time for river craft.
This economic activity reflected the growth of Louisville's population. From recorded totals of 200 in 1790 and 359 in 1800, Louisville's population almost quadrupled in the next decade to 1,357. By 1820 its population had almost tripled to 4,012, and in 1830 it was 10,341, making Louisville the largest city in Kentucky and the fourteenth largest in the nation. The ethnic composition of Louisville in its early years was primarily English, Scots-Irish, and German, with a small but prominent French community. By 1830 an increasing number of native-born Germans and Irish began arriving. Also among Louisville's earliest settlers were African Americans, the vast majority of them enslaved. Their numbers increased as Louisville's population grew. In 1800 there were 77 African Americans, only one of whom was reported as being free. In 1810 there were a reported 495 African Americans (36 percent of the population) living in Louisville, only 11 of whom were free. The 1820 federal census reported 1,124 African Americans (28 percent of the population, of whom only 93 were free) living in Louisville. By 1830 there were 2,638 African Americans (232 of whom were free) living in Louisville, 25 percent of the population. Although never the major slave market that Lexington was, Louisville was an active slave-trading center. It also was increasingly a magnet throughout the antebellum period for runaway slaves hoping to lose themselves in the city and eventually make their way across the Ohio River to freedom.
Louisville's bustling river trade was supplemented by surrounding farms that raised livestock and a variety of crops. Stores, taverns, inns, warehouses, factories, mills, shipyards, distilleries, and other businesses all proliferated. The growth of population and of business activity encouraged the establishment of newspapers, churches, schools, a library, and a theater. The numerous ponds in and around Louisville that were a breeding ground for mosquitoes and disease were largely filled in during the 1820s, thus improving the health of the area and removing a factor prohibitive to future growth. In 1828 Louisville was granted city status, the first community to be granted that designation, with its greater level of independence, by the Kentucky legislature. As the fourth decade of the nineteenth century began, Louisville was a major western city poised for even greater growth.
Kleber, John E., ed. The Encyclopedia of Louisville. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
Thomas, Samuel W., ed. Views of Louisville since 1766. Louisville: Courier-Journal Lithographing Co., 1971.
Yater, George H. Two Hundred Years at the Falls of the Ohio: A History of Louisville and Jefferson County. Louisville, Ky.: The Heritage Corporation, 1979.
James J. Holmberg
Canal Completion Spurs City's Development
One historian has noted that chances of a settlement being established where Louisville now stands—adjacent to the Falls of the Ohio on a plain along the Ohio River—for a long time appeared unlikely because of treacherous rapids that had forced many prospective Native American, French, and Spanish settlers to turn back. In 1773, Thomas Bullitt was sent with a small surveying party to the site to plan a town, but they remained for less than a year. Then, in 1778, Colonel George Rogers Clark, accompanied by 120 soldiers and twenty families, established the first permanent settlement on nearby Corn Island, a land mass in the Ohio River that has since been worn away by water. The following year Clark and his party moved to a fort on the mainland that served as a base for supplying Clark's expeditions into the Northwest Territory. This settlement, on the site of what is now 12th Street, was officially designated a town by the Virginia legislature in 1780 and named in honor of France's King Louis XVI for French service against the British during the American Revolution. A year later, Clark again moved his group and built Fort Nelson at the foot of present-day 7th Street.
Louisville, incorporated as a city in 1828, became an important river port because of its location on the Ohio River, a main artery for westward expansion. The economy profited greatly from the portaging of goods around the falls, but the advent of steamboats from New Orleans made it apparent that the falls were a barrier to development. In 1830 the Louisville & Portland Canal was completed, thus providing a water by-pass around the falls and opening the way for increased river traffic from Pittsburgh to New Orleans.
Cultural and Economic Growth Continues
By the mid-nineteenth century Louisville was a prosperous industrial center and had begun to thrive culturally, its citizens surprising European visitors with their sophistication and cultivated tastes. As part of the New Orleans commercial empire, Louisville attracted two new groups of people who were to make permanent contributions to the life of the city—the French from New Orleans and the Germans from Pittsburgh.
During the Civil War the city served as an important Union supply depot, but the conflicting loyalties among its residents reflected the often bitter division between pro-Union and pro-Confederate sentiments that existed throughout the state of Kentucky. After the war Louisville was forced to adjust to the collapse of the southern plantation economy; new merchandising methods were initiated and railroad links were established with other major cities in the South.
The city continued to grow, and by 1900 the population had surpassed 200,000 people. During the 1920s a building boom brought skyscrapers to Louisville's silhouette, and in 1925 an electrical power plant was constructed at the Falls of the Ohio. The city was relatively untouched by the depression, as the tobacco trade and manufacturing maintained their normal levels; federal job programs during the 1930s helped to alleviate unemployment. In the winter of 1937, the Ohio River flooded and devastated the city, but by the summer of that same year Louisville was able to resume its usual way of life through rehabilitation loans and Red Cross assistance.
The city has recently undergone extensive redevelopment and revitalization with completion of many projects including Riverfront Plaza and Belvedere, an urban plaza overlooking the Ohio River, 4th Street Live!, Glassworks, Louisville Extreme Park and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. A direct link to the past has been retained with the restoration of old buildings that are being used as museums, theaters, shops, and restaurants. A challenge for the twenty-first century is to make downtown Louisville a place where people want to live and work.
Historical Information: Louisville Free Public Library, 301 W. York Street, Louisville, KY 40203; telephone (502)574-1611
Louisville: Education and Research
Louisville: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
The public elementary and secondary schools in Louisville are part of a county-wide district operated by the Jefferson County Board of Education. The school system offers students a variety of optional programs including advanced programs for gifted students; career/technological programs for middle school students; magnet programs; strict, traditional school curriculums; trade schools; Learning Choice schools offering specialized instructional areas; and special programs for handicapped students. The Jefferson County Public School System has been recognized for its outstanding availability of technology for students. The county is home to the Gheens Professional Development Academy, a national model for teacher training. The SAT scores of county students are consistently higher than the national average. Eighty-one percent of county teachers have attained at least a master's degree. Student attendance rate was 93.8 in the 2003-2004 school year.
The following is a summary of data regarding Jefferson County's public schools as of the 2003–2004 school year.
Total enrollment: 97,000
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 87
junior high/middle schools: 23
senior high schools: 20
other: 23 learning centers
Student/teacher ratio: 17:1
Funding per pupil: $5,463
Also operating in the area are Catholic and Christian schools, Academy for Individual Excellence, Louisville Collegiate School, Kentucky Country Day School, Summit Academy of Greater Louisville, The DePaul School, Walden School, and Waldorf School of Louisville.
Public Schools Information: Jefferson County Public Schools Administrative Offices, VanHoose Education Center, 3332 Newburg Rd., PO Box 34020, Louisville, KY 40232; telephone (502)485-3357
Colleges and Universities
Louisville has three major institutions of higher learning: the University of Louisville, Bellarmine College, and Spalding University. The University of Louisville offers Ph.D.'s in 23 areas, including engineering (its Speed School of Engineering is nationally known), medicine, dentistry, law, and education. Bellarmine College offers master of arts degrees in social and business administration, education, and nursing, in addition to 44 undergraduate degrees. Spalding University offers extensive programs for the part-time student. In the Greater Louisville region are located 20 institutions of higher learning.
Libraries and Research Centers
The main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library is located downtown, with 16 other branches and two bookmobiles throughout the metropolitan area. The library, which was founded in 1816, houses periodicals, films, records, art reproductions, government documents, and a Kentucky History and Kentucky Author Collection. It is a Federal Depository library for government documents. An even larger number of volumes is stored at the University of Louisville Libraries, home to more than 1.9 million books and special collections on Astronomy, Mathematics, and Irish Literature.
More than 30 research centers are located in Louisville; some are affiliated with local colleges and hospitals, and others concentrate on such fields as genealogy, health, engineering, law, crime prevention, and alcoholic beverage production. The Donald E. Baxter, M.D. Biomedical Research Building is part of the University of Louisville School of Medicine and one of the cornerstones for attracting new research scientists to its Health Sciences Center. Construction of a companion to the Baxter Research Building is now underway. The University's transplantation research program received international acclaim when it performed the second successful hand transplant in the world.
Public Library Information: Louisville Free Public Library, 301 York St., Louisville, KY 40203-2257; telephone (502)574-1611
Louisville: Convention Facilities
Louisville: Convention Facilities
Louisville's largest meeting facility is the Kentucky International Convention Center, expanded and renovated at a cost of $72 million. The expansion part of the project increased the facility's exhibit space to 200,000 square feet and added a 360-seat theater and a 30,000-square-foot ballroom. The center is located in the heart of downtown and connected by skywalks to the Hyatt Regency Hotel and two parking garages. This exposition center hosts conventions, trade, civic, and entertainment events. Another downtown facility is the all-purpose Louisville Gardens, located in the shopping district. The Gardens can accommodate groups ranging from 100 to 7,000 people.
The Convention Center's sister facility, the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, is located just two minutes from Louisville International Airport. It is one of the world's largest multipurpose buildings on one floor. Offering 30 acres and 1 million square feet of space, together with paved parking for 1,200 cars, it is within easy driving distance of hotels and motels. Its indoor arena, Freedom Hall, seats 19,000 people. The six-building complex hosts more than 500 events and four million people each year. Its multipur-pose building, Broadbent Arena, is the site of tractor pulls, basketball tournaments, and graduation ceremonies. The Hilton Garden hotel recently opened there.
Unique meeting space is available on the recently renovated Belle of Louisville, a 1914 paddlewheel steamboat; the Belle hosts receptions for up to 800 people or seated dinners for up to 308 people from April through October. Spirit of Jefferson, a sternwheeler excursion boat, also hosts chartered cruises and features two indoor climate-controlled decks. The Speed Art Museum accommodates groups of up to 1,000 people for receptions and 300 people for banquets after six p.m. except Mondays and Thursdays.
Hotel space in Louisville is plentiful—approximately 17,000 rooms are available in the metropolitan area. More than 3,000 hotel rooms are located downtown, with most within walking distance of the Kentucky International Convention Center. The Marriott Louisville Downtown, which opened in March 2005 adjacent to the Convention Center, boasts 616 rooms and 50,000 square feet of meeting space. It is connected to the Convention Center via an enclosed pedestrian walkway. Other downtown properties include the 1,300-room Galt House Hotel, the 388-room Hyatt Regency Louisville, the 321-room Seelbach Hilton, the 298-room Camberley Brown Hotel, the 287-room Holiday Inn Louisville Downtown, the 182-room Doubletree Club Louisville-Downtown, and the 160-room Courtyard by Marriott Louisville Downtown. The dual appeal of a vital urban climate steeped in history makes Louisville an ideal place for large and small meetings.
Convention Information: Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, 401 W. Main St., Suite 2300, Louisville, KY 40202; telephone (502)584-2121, (800)626-5646
Louisville: Population Profile
Louisville: Population Profile
Metropolitan Area Residents
Percent change, 1990–2000: 8.1%
U.S. rank in 1980: 38th
U.S. rank in 1990: 43rd U.S. rank in 2000: 49th
2003 estimate: 248,762
Percent change, 1990–2000: −5.0%
U.S. rank in 1980: 49th
U.S. rank in 1990: 58th
U.S. rank in 2000: 69th (State rank: 1st)
Density: 4,124.9 people per square mile (2000)
Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)
Black or African American: 84,586
American Indian and Alaska Native: 578
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 111
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 4,755
Percent of residents born in state: 75.6% (2000)
Age characteristics (2000)
Population under 5 years old: 16,926
Population 5 to 9 years old: 17,359
Population 10 to 14 years old: 16,627
Population 15 to 19 years old: 17,362
Population 20 to 24 years old: 18,923
Population 25 to 34 years old: 37,541
Population 35 to 44 years old: 40,354
Population 45 to 54 years old: 33,755
Population 55 to 59 years old: 10,716
Population 60 to 64 years old: 9,211
Population 65 to 74 years old: 18,577
Population 85 years and older: 5,075
Median age: 35.8 years
Births (Jefferson County, 2000)
Total number: 9,565
Deaths (Jefferson County, 2000)
Total number: 7,158 (of which, 113 were infants under the age of 1 year)
Money income (1999)
Per capita income: $18,193
Median household income: $28,843
Total households: 111,414
Number of households with income of . . .
less than $10,000: 19,542
$10,000 to $14,999: 10,471
$15,000 to $24,999: 18,883
$25,000 to $34,999: 16,258
$35,000 to $49,999: 17,695
$50,000 to $74,999: 15,227
$75,000 to $99,999: 6,654
$100,000 to $149,999: 3,990
$150,000 to $199,999: 1,193
$200,000 or more: 1,471
Percent of families below poverty level: 21.6% (61.7% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 15,439
Louisville: Geography and Climate
Louisville: Population Profile
Louisville: Municipal Government
Louisville: Education and Research
Louisville: Health Care
Louisville: Convention Facilities
The City in Brief
Founded: 1778 (incorporated 1828)
Head Official: Mayor Jerry E. Abramson (since 2003)
2003 estimate: 248,762
Percent change, 1990–2000: −5.0%
U.S. rank in 1980: 49th
U.S. rank in 1990: 58th
U.S. rank in 2000: 69th (State rank: 1st)
Metropolitan Area Population
Percent change, 1990–2000: 8.1%
U.S. rank in 1980: 38th
U.S. rank in 1990: 43rd
U.S. rank in 2000: 49th
Area: 66.65 square miles (2000)
Elevation: 488 feet above sea level
Average Annual Temperature: 56.1° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 44.4 inches
Major Economic Sectors: services, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing
Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004)
Per Capita Income: $18,193 (1999)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 15,439
Major Colleges and Universities: University of Louisville, Bellarmine College, Spalding University
Daily Newspaper: Courier-Journal
Newspapers and Magazines
Louisville's major daily newspaper is the Courier-Journal (morning). The Voice Tribune is a weekly business newspaper. Louisville Business First and a number of special-interest magazines are also based in Louisville, including the weekly Leo,The Louisville Defender,Snitch, the annual Kentucky Travel Guide, and the monthly lifestyle publication Louisville Magazine. Other publications serve readers involved in the building trades, agriculture, computers, and religion.
Television and Radio
Louisville is served by eight television stations. Fourteen radio stations (eight AM and six FM) broadcast a variety of musical formats plus news and talk.
Media Information: Louisville Courier-Journal, telephone (502)582-4011
City of Louisville Home Page. Available www.louky.org/main.htm
Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.louisville-visitors.com
Greater Louisville Inc. Available www.greaterlouisville.com
Jefferson County Public Schools. Available www.jefferson.k12.ky.us
Louisville Free Public Library. Available www.lfpl.org
Metro Chamber of Commerce. Available www.greaterlouisville.com
Bolus, Jim, Derby Dreams (Gretna, La.: Pelican Pub Co., 1996)
Wright, George C., Life Behind a Veil: Blacks in Louisville, Kentucky 1865–1930 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985)