LOUISVILLE, lo͞o′ĭ-vĭl or lo͞o′ĭs-vĭl. The largest city of Kentucky, and the county-seat of Jefferson County, on the Ohio River, 130 miles below Cincinnati, and 110 miles distant by rail (Map: Kentucky, F 2). The Ohio at this point makes a descent, by a series of rapids, of 26 feet in 2 miles, the rapids, when impassable in low water, being avoided by a canal around the falls, 2½ miles long. Steamers from the city reach 33 navigable rivers, and railroad facilities, too, are excellent, 10 great systems entering here, among which are the Southern, the Illinois Central, the Louisville and Nashville, the Chesapeake and Ohio, the Pennsylvania, and the Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern. Three steel railroad bridges, two to Jeffersonville, one of which is a mile long, and one to New Albany, connect Louisville with the State of Indiana.
Louisville, the ‘Falls City,’ 20 square miles in extent, lies 60 feet above low-water mark, and is free from inundations, it is surrounded by a fine agricultural country and is adjacent to a region of immense forests and coal and iron mines. It has a river-front of about eight miles. There are 170 miles of streets, mostly well paved with macadam, brick, asphalt, and granite, and in great part beautifully shaded, broad and regular, varying in width from 60 to 120 feet. The street railway system comprises 175 miles, and extends to all parts of the city.
Among the more prominent structures are the city hall, county court-house, custom-house. Institute for the Blind and the American Printing House for the Blind, Industrial School of Reform, Columbia Building, Masonic Widows' and Orphans' Home, and the hospitals and homes, which number 42 in all. There is one public library of over 50,000 volumes, that of the Polytechnic Society of Kentucky, in connection with which are a museum, an art gallery, and a valuable collection of minerals. Louisville is noted as a centre for medical education. It has nine medical colleges and a dental school, two law colleges, three theological seminaries, two schools of pharmacy, a normal school, manual training school, and many other institutions, both private and included in the efficient public school system. The public parks, five in number and embracing 1079 acres, comprise the more notable Iroquois, Shawnee, and Cherokee parks, as well as smaller preserves and squares in the more populous sections. Cave Hill Cemetery, in the eastern part of the city, has a fine site and is beautifully laid out. Among other objects of interest are the grave of Zachary Taylor, a monument to Confederate soldiers, and statues of Henry Clay and Thomas Jefferson.
With its exceptional transportation facilities, Louisville is naturally the centre of a vast distributing and export trade. It is perhaps the largest tobacco market in the world; is also an important market for live stock, and exports extensively its principal manufactured products, which include whisky, jeans, sole-leather, plows, cement, farm wagons, soap, flour, plumber's supplies (iron, gas and water pipe, porcelain bathtubs, brass fittings, etc.), vinegar, malt liquors, and many other articles. Pork-packing is another very considerable industry.
The government is vested in a mayor, elected every four years; a bicameral council; and administrative departments as follows: board of works, board of safety, comptroller, gas inspector, and city buyer. nominated by the executive with the consent of the council; city attorney and assessor, elected by the council; and public school board, chosen by popular election. Louisville spends annually, in maintenance and operation, nearly $3,000,000, the principal items of expenditure being about $535,000 for schools, $280,000 for the police department, $270,000 for the fire department, $165,000 for street sprinkling and cleaning, including amounts for garbage removal; $150,000 for municipal lighting, $140,000 for the water-works, and $100,000 for police courts, jails, reformatories, etc. The city owns and operates the water-works; the plant, built at a cost of nearly $6,000,000, was acquired in 1860, and the whole system now comprises over 230 miles of mains. The sewerage system has over 105 miles of mains, and there are 26 miles of mains for natural gas, which is used to a considerable extent for domestic purposes. The total property valuation is placed at $130,000,000.
Population, in 1800, 359; in 1830, 43,194; in 1860, 68,033; in 1870, 100,753; in 1880, 123,758; in 1890, 161,129; in 1900, 204,731, including 21,400 persons of foreign birth, and 39,100 of negro descent.
In 1778 thirteen families came down the river with Col. George Rogers Clarke, and settled on a small island—since eaten away by the river—near the head of the Ohio Falls. In the following year they moved to the mainland and laid the foundations of the present city. In 1780 the settlement, with a population of about 60, was incorporated as a town by the Virginia Legislature, and named Louisville in honor of Louis XVI. of France. In 1824 it was chartered as a city by the Kentucky Legislature. On August 6, 1855 (‘Bloody Monday’), a mob, said to have been incited by the ‘Know-Nothings,’ destroyed much property and a number of lives. During the Civil War the city was Unionist in sympathy. In September, 1862, the Confederates under General Bragg threatened an attack, but withdrew on the arrival of General Buell's army. In March, 1890, a tornado that swept through the city caused the death of 100 persons and destroyed property worth $3,000,000. Consult: Johnston, Memorial History of Louisville (Chicago, 1896); and Powell, Historic Towns of the Southern States (New York, 1900).