Kentucky Atlas and Gazetteer

Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, the seat of Jefferson county, is located on the Ohio River at the Falls of the Ohio. It was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark. In 1779 it was named for Louis XVI of France and in 1780 it was chartered by the state of Virginia and made the county seat. During the early years the town was often referred to as Falls of the Ohio. In 2000 voters in Louisville and Jefferson county approved a merged city-county government to be known as Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government, or Louisville Metro for short, effective in 2003. (More than 80 incorporated cities in Jefferson county remain independent.) The Louisville post office opened in 1795. The population in 2010 was 597,337. The population of the city of Louisville in 2000, before the merger, was 256,231.

Photo of Louisville skyline
Louisville as seen from the Indiana side of the river.

Louisville is the home of the University of Louisville and Jefferson Community and Technical College. It is the home of Churchill Downs, established in 1875, where the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks originated and have been run annually.

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From Frances Trollope's Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832) describing her visit in the winter of 1828.

Louisville is a considerable town, prettily situated on the Kentucky, or south side of the Ohio; we spent some hours in seeing all it had to show; and had I not been told that a fever often rages there during the warm season, I should have liked to pass some months there for the purpose of exploring the beautiful country in its vicinity. Frankfort and Lexington are both towns worth visiting; though from their being out of the way places I never got to either. The first is the seat of the state government of Kentucky, and the last is, I was told, the residence of several independent families, who, with more leisure than is usually enjoyed in America, have its natural accompaniment, more refinement.

The falls of the Ohio are about a mile below Louisville, and produce a rapid too sudden for the boats to pass, except in the rainy season. The passengers are obliged to get out below them, and travel by land to Louisville, where they find other vessels ready to receive them for the remainder of the voyage. We were spared this inconvenience by the water being too high for the rapid to be much felt, and it will soon be altogether removed by the Louisville canal coming into operation, which will permit the steam-boats to continue their progress from below the falls to the town.

The scenery on the Kentucky side is much finer than on that of Indiana, or Ohio. The state of Kentucky was the darling spot of many tribes of Indians, and was reserved among them as a common hunting-ground; it is said, that they cannot yet name it without emotion, and that they have a sad and wild lament that they still chant to its memory. But their exclusion thence is of no recent date; Kentucky has been longer settled than the Illinois, Indiana, or Ohio; and it appears not only more highly cultivated, but more fertile and more picturesque than either. I have rarely seen richer pastures than those of Kentucky. The forest-trees, where not too crowded, are of magnificent growth; and the crops are glorious and abundant, where the thriftless husbandry has not worn out the soil by an unvarying succession of exhausting crops. We were shown ground which had borne abundant crops of wheat for twenty successive years; but a much shorter period suffices to exhaust the ground, when it is made to produce tobacco without the intermission of some other crop.


E.P. Tom Sawyer University of Louisville Saint Matthews Shively Jeffersontown Middletown Anchorage Kosmosdale Shepherdsville Shepherdsville Mount Washington La Grange Simpsonville Shelbyville Eminence State of Indiana
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© 2014 David C. Elbon