Louisville is a major city and the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's total consolidated population at the 2010 census was 741,096 (Louisville's balance total, 602,011, excludes semi-autonomous towns and is the population listed in most sources and national rankings). As of 2010, the Louisville metropolitan area (MSA) had a population of 1,307,647 ranking 42nd nationally. The metro area includes Louisville-Jefferson County and 12 surrounding counties, eight in Kentucky and four in Southern Indiana (see Geography below). The Louisville Combined Statistical Area, having a population of 1,451,564, includes the MSA, Hardin County and Larue County in Kentucky, and Scott County, Indiana. An important internal shipping port in the 19th century, Louisville today is best known as the location of the Kentucky Derby, the first of three annual thoroughbred horse races making up the Triple Crown.
The downtown business district of Louisville is located immediately south of the Ohio River, and southeast of the Falls of the Ohio. Major roads extend outwards from the downtown area in all directions, like the spokes of a wheel. The airport is approximately 6.75 miles (10.86 km) south of the downtown area. The industrial sections of town are to the south and west of the airport, while most of the residential areas of the city are to the southwest, south and east of downtown. The Louisville skyline is slated to be changed with the proposed 62-story Museum Plaza as well as the 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center. Twelve of the 15 buildings in Kentucky over 300 feet (91 m) are located in downtown Louisville. Another primary business and industrial district is located in the suburban area east of the city on Hurstbourne Parkway. Louisville's late 19th and early 20th century development was spurred by three large suburban parks built at the edges of the city in 1890. The city's architecture contains a blend of old and new. The Old Louisville neighborhood is the largest historic preservation district solely featuring Victorian homes and buildings in the United States; it is also the third largest such district overall. There are many modern skyscrapers downtown, as well as older preserved structures. The buildings of West Main Street in downtown Louisville have the largest collection of cast iron facades of anywhere outside of New York's SoHo district.
Louisville's early economy first developed through the shipping and cargo industries. Its strategic location at the Falls of the Ohio, as well as its unique position in the central United States (within one day's road travel to 60% of the cities in the continental U.S.) make it an ideal location for the transfer of cargo along its route to other destinations. The Louisville and Portland Canal and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad were important links in water and rail transportation. Louisville's importance to the shipping industry continues today with the presence of the Worldport global air-freight hub for UPS at Louisville International Airport. Louisville's location at the crossroads of three major Interstate highways (I-64, I-65 and I-71) also contributes to its modern-day strategic importance to the shipping and cargo industry. As of 2003, Louisville ranks as the 7th largest inland port in the United States. Recently, Louisville has emerged as a major center for the health care and medical sciences industries. Louisville has been central to advancements in heart and hand surgery as well as cancer treatment. Some of the earliest artificial heart transplants were conducted in Louisville. Louisville's thriving downtown medical research campus includes a new $88 million rehabilitation center, and a health sciences research and commercialization park that, in partnership with the University Of Louisville, has lured nearly 70 top scientists and researchers. Louisville is also home to Humana, one of the nation's largest health insurance companies.
Museums, galleries, and interpretive centers:
The West Main District in downtown Louisville features what is locally known as "Museum Row". In this area, the Frazier International History Museum, which opened in 2004, features a collection of arms, armor and related historical artifacts spanning 1,000 years, concentrating on U.S. and UK arms. The building features three stories of exhibits, two reenactment arenas, a 120-seat auditorium, and a 48-seat movie theater. Also nearby is the Louisville Science Center, which is Kentucky's largest hands-on science center and features interactive exhibits, IMAX films, educational programs and technology networks. The Kentucky Museum Of Art And Craft, opened in 1981 and located at 715 West Main Street, is a nonprofit organization with a mission to support and promote excellence in art, craft, applied arts and design. The Muhammad Ali Center opened November 2005 in "Museum Row" and features Louisville native Muhammad Ali's boxing memorabilia.
The Speed Art Museum opened in 1927 and is the oldest and largest art museum in the state of Kentucky. Located adjacent to the University of Louisville, the museum features over 12,000 pieces of art in its permanent collection and hosts regular temporary exhibitions. Multiple art galleries are located in the city, but they are especially concentrated in the East Market District of downtown. This row of galleries, plus others in the West Main District, are prominently featured in the monthly First Friday Trolley Hop. Several local history museums can be found in the Louisville area. The most prominent among them is The Filson Historical Society, founded in 1884, which has holdings exceeding 1.5 million manuscript items and over 50,000 volumes in the library. The Filson's extensive collections focus on Kentucky, the Upper South, and the Ohio River Valley, and contain a large collection of portraiture and over 10,000 museum artifacts. Other local history museums include the Portland Museum, Historic Locust Grove, Conrad-Caldwell House Museum, the Falls of the Ohio State Park interpretive center (Clarksville, Indiana), Howard Steamboat Museum (Jeffersonville, Indiana) and the Carnegie Center for Art and History (New Albany, Indiana). The Falls interpretive center, part of the Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area, also functions as a natural history museum, covering findings in the nearby exposed Devonian fossil bed.
There are also several historical properties and items of interest in the area, including the Belle of Louisville, the oldest Mississippi-style steamboat in operation in the United States. The United States Marine Hospital of Louisville is considered the best remaining antebellum hospital in the United States. It was designed by Robert Mills, who is best known as the designer of the Washington Monument. Fort Knox, spread out among Bullitt, Hardin and Meade Counties (two of which are in the Louisville metropolitan area), is home to the U.S. Bullion Depository and the General George Patton Museum. The previously mentioned Locust Grove, former home of Louisville Founder George Rogers Clark, portrays life in the early days of the city. Other notable properties include the Farmington Historic Plantation (home of the famous Speed family), Riverside, The Farnsley-Moremen Landing, and the restored Union Station, which was opened on September 7, 1891. The Louisville area is also home to the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, a turn-of-the-century (20th) hospital that was originally built to accommodate tuberculosis patients, and subsequently has been reported and sensationalized to be haunted.
Parks and outdoor attractions:
Louisville Metro has 122 city parks covering more than 13,000 acres (53 km2). Several of these parks were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City's Central Park as well as parks, parkways, college campuses and public facilities in many U.S. locations. The Louisville Waterfront Park is prominently located on the banks of the Ohio River near downtown, and features large open areas, which often feature free concerts and other festivals. Cherokee Park, one of the most visited parks in the nation, features a 2.6-mile (4.2 km) mixed-use loop and many well-known landscaping and architectural features including the Hogan Fountain Pavilion. Other notable parks in the system include Iroquois Park, Shawnee Park, Seneca Park and Central Park.
Further from the downtown area is the Jefferson Memorial Forest, which at 6,218 acres (25.16 km2) is the largest municipal urban forest in the United States., The forest is designated as a National Audubon Society wildlife refuge, and offers over 30 miles (48 km) of various hiking trails. Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, owned and operated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, is another large park in nearby Brandenburg, Kentucky. The park's namesake, Otter Creek, winds along the eastern side of the park. A scenic bend in the Ohio River, which divides Kentucky from Indiana, can be seen from northern overlooks within the park. The park is a popular mountain biking destination, with trails maintained by a local mountain bike organization.
Other outdoor points of interest in the Louisville area include Cave Hill Cemetery (the burial location of Col. Harland Sanders), Zachary Taylor National Cemetery (the burial location of President Zachary Taylor), the Louisville Zoo and the Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area. In development is the City of Parks, a project to create a continuous paved pedestrian and biking trail around Louisville Metro while also adding a large amount of park land. Current plans call for making approximately 4,000 acres (16 km2) of the Floyds Fork flood plain in eastern Jefferson County into a new park system called The Parklands of Floyds Fork, expanding area in the Jefferson Memorial Forest, and adding riverfront land and wharfs along the Riverwalk Trail and Levee Trail.
Louisville is home to several institutions of higher learning. There are five four-year universities, the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, Spalding University, Sullivan University, and Simmons College of Kentucky; a two-year community college, Jefferson Community and Technical College; and several other business or technical schools such as Spencerian College, ITT Technical Institute, Strayer University and Louisville Technical Institute. Indiana University Southeast is located across the Ohio River in New Albany, Indiana. The University of Louisville has notable achievements including several hand transplants, and the World's first wireless artificial heart transplant. The school's Health Sciences Center in Downtown Louisville is currently adding an expansive medical research market on the city's old Haymarket site, which is projected to add 10,000 high paying jobs within 10 years.
Two major graduate-professional schools of religion are also located in Louisville. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with more than 2,000 students, is the flagship institution of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was founded in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1859 and moved to Louisville in 1877, occupying its present campus on Lexington Road in 1926. Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, product of a 1901 merger of two predecessor schools founded at Danville, Kentucky in 1853 and in Louisville in 1893, occupied its present campus on Alta Vista Road in 1963. According to the U.S. Census, of Louisville's population over 25, 21.3% (the national average is 24%) hold a bachelor's degree or higher, and 76.1% (80% nationally) have a high school diploma or equivalent. The public school system, Jefferson County Public Schools, consists of more than 98,000 students in 89 elementary schools, 24 middle schools, 22 high schools and 22 other learning centers. Due to Louisville's large Catholic population, there are 27 Catholic schools in the city. The Kentucky School for the Blind for all of Kentucky's blind and visually impaired students is located on Frankfort Avenue in the Clifton neighborhood.
Louisville's main airport is the centrally located Louisville International Airport, whose IATA Airport Code (SDF) reflects its former name of Standiford Field. The airport is also home to UPS's Worldport global air hub. UPS operates its largest package-handling hub at Louisville International Airport and bases its UPS Airlines division there. Over 3.5 million passengers and over 3 billion pounds (1,400,000 t) of cargo pass through the airport each year. Louisville International Airport is also the 4th busiest airport in the United States in terms of cargo passage, and it is the 11th busiest in cargo passage in the world. Furthermore, since Louisville is located only around 35 minutes from Fort Knox, the airport is a major hub for armed services personnel traveling to and from the military installation. The historic but smaller Bowman Field is used mainly for general aviation while nearby Clark Regional Airport is used mostly by private jets.
The McAlpine Locks And Dam is located on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, near the downtown area. The locks were constructed to allow shipping past the Falls of the Ohio. In 2001 over 55 million tons of commodities passed through the locks. A new lock was constructed to replace two of the auxiliary locks, with a projected completion date of 2008, but was completed in early 2009. Public transportation consists mainly of buses run by the Transit Authority of River City (TARC). The city buses serve all parts of downtown Louisville and Jefferson County, as well as Kentucky suburbs in Oldham County, Bullitt County, and the Indiana suburbs of Jeffersonville, Clarksville and New Albany. A light rail system has been studied and proposed for the city, but no plan was in development as of 2007.
Louisville has inner and outer interstate beltways, I-264 and I-265 respectively. Interstates I-64, I-65 pass through Louisville, and I-71 has its southern terminus in Louisville. Since all three of these highways intersect at virtually the same location on the east side of downtown, this spot has become known as "Spaghetti Junction". Two bridges carry I-64 and I-65 over the Ohio River, and a third automobile bridge carries non-interstate traffic. Plans for two more bridges to connect Louisville to Indiana, along with a reconfiguration of Spaghetti Junction, have been under consideration for years and some exploratory construction began in 2007. One bridge would be located downtown for relief of I-65 traffic. The other would connect the Indiana and Kentucky I-265's (via KY-841). As with any major project, there are detractors and possible alternatives; one grassroots organization, 8664.org, has proposed options for downtown revitalization improvements, and a simpler and less expensive roadway design.