Louisville Facts & Firsts

  • The City of Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark and is named after King Louis XVI of France.
  • The Official Seal of the City of Louisville reflects its history and heritage - the fleur-de-lis represents French aid given during the Revolutionary War, and the thirteen stars signify the original colonies.
  • Louisville's First Town Charter was signed in 1780 by Thomas Jefferson, Governor of Virginia.
  • Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), 12th President of the U.S., grew up in Louisville and is buried in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery on Brownsboro Road.
  • The University of Louisville, founded in 1798, is the oldest city-supported college in the United States.
  • Since 1875, Churchill Downs has been the home of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing.
  • The Louisville Slugger baseball bat was made by Andrew "Bud" Hillerich in his father's woodworking shop in Louisville in 1884. The brand name "Louisville Slugger" was first used in 1893.
  • The Hot Brown originated at The Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville in the 1900s. The open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich is topped with a rich cheese sauce.
  • Built in 1914, the Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating Mississippi-style sternwheeler steamboat in existence today.
  • Louisville’s nationally-acclaimed parks system includes parks and parkways designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York City.
  • Louisville has the nation’s largest urban municipal forest – the 6,000 acre Jefferson Memorial Forest in south Louisville.
  • Nominated in 1916, Louis D. Brandeis lived in Old Louisville and served as the first Jewish Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • The Cheeseburger originated at Kaelin's Restaurant on Newburg Road. In 1934, Margaret Kaelin's husband asked her to put a slice of American cheese on his hamburger and the legend was born.
  • Modjeskas is a candy treat made of marshmallow dipped in liquid caramel that was created and made in Louisville by Anton Busath in the 1870's.
  • Famous Louisvillian Pee Wee Reese was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.
  • "Happy Birthday to You" was written by sisters Mildred and Patty Hill in their Louisville kindergarten class. Originally called "Good Morning to You," it was later changed to this tradition birthday anthem.
  • Jennie Carter Benedict, a Louisville restaurateur, created Benedictine, a spread made of cucumbers and cream cheese.
  • Muhammad Ali, world recognized Louisvillian and Kentucky's Athlete of the Century, was a three-time heavyweight boxing champion.
  • Louisville's Main Street has the second largest collection of cast-iron storefronts facades, only New York City has more.
  • The Old Louisville neighborhood near downtown is the largest Victorian neighborhood in America.
  • The Ohio River stretches 981 miles and is one of the major rivers of North America.