1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, the largest city of Kentucky, U.S.A., and the county-seat of Jefferson county, on the Ohio river, 110 m. by rail and 130 m. by water S.W. of Cincinnati. Pop. (1890) 161,129; (1900) 204,731, of whom 21,427 were foreign-born (including 12,383 Germans and 4198 Irish) and 39,139 were negroes; (1910 census) 223,928.

Louisville occupies 40 sq. m. of a plain, about 70 sq. m. in extent, about 60 ft. above the low-water mark of the river, and nearly enclosed by hills. The city extends for 8 m. along the river (spanned here by three bridges), which falls 26 ft. in 2 m., but for 6 m. above the rapids spreads out into a beautiful sheet of quiet water about 1 m. wide. The streets intersect at right angles, are from 60 to 120 ft. wide, and are, for the most part, well-shaded. The wholesale district, with its great tobacco warehouses, is largely along Main Street, which runs E. and W. not far from the river; and the heart of the shopping district is along Fourth Street in the dozen blocks S. of Main Street. Adjoining the shopping district on the S. is the old residence section; the newer residences are on “The Highlands” at the E. end and also at the W. end. The city is served by the Baltimore & Ohio South-Western, the Chesapeake & Ohio, the Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago & St Louis, the Louisville, Henderson & St Louis, the Illinois Central, the Chicago, Indiana & Louisville, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St Louis, the Southern and the Louisville & Nashville railways; by steamboat lines to Memphis, Cairo, Evansville, Cincinnati and Pittsburg; by an extensive system of inter-urban electric lines; and by ferries to Jeffersonville and New Albany, Indiana, two attractive residential suburbs.

Many of the business houses are old-fashioned and low. The principal public buildings are the United States government building, the Jefferson county court house and the city hall. In front of the court house stands a bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson, designed by Moses Ezekiel (b. 1844), and inside of the court house a marble statue of Henry Clay by Joel T. Hart (1810-1870). There are few or no large congested tenement-house districts; most of the wage-earners own their own homes or rent cottages. Louisville has an extensive park system, most of which was acquired after 1889 and is on the outskirts. From the heart of the city South Parkway, 150 ft. wide, extends S. 6 m. to the entrance to Iroquois Park (670 acres) on a wooded hill. At the E. end of Broadway is Cherokee Park (nearly 330 acres), near which is the beautiful Cave Hill Cemetery, containing the grave of George Rogers Clark, the founder of the city, and the graves of several members of the family of George Keats, the poet’s brother, who lived in Louisville for a time; and at the W. end of Broadway, Shawnee Park (about 170 acres), with a long sandy river beach frequented by bathers. Central Park occupies the space of two city squares in the old fashionable residence districts. Through the efforts of a Recreation League organized in 1901 a few playgrounds are set apart for children. Louisville is a noted racing centre and has some fine tracks; the Kentucky Derby is held here annually in May.

The United States government has a marine hospital, and a life-saving station at the rapids of the river. The state has a school for the blind, in connexion with which is the American Printing House for the Blind. There are state hospitals and many other charitable institutions.

The principal educational institutions are the university of Louisville, which has a College of Liberal Arts (1907), a law department (1847), and a medical department (1837)—with which in 1907 were consolidated the Hospital College of Medicine (1873), the Medical Department of Kentucky University (1898), the Louisville Medical College (1869), and the Kentucky School of Medicine (1850); the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859); the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of Kentucky, which was formed in 1901 by the consolidation of the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Danville (1853) and the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (1893); the Louisville College of Pharmacy (1871), and the Louisville College of Dentistry (1887), a department of Central University. There are many musical clubs, and a spring festival for which a local chorus furnishes the nucleus, is held annually. The Louisville Public Library was established in 1902, and 1904 acquired the library, the small museum (containing the Troost collection of minerals) and the art gallery of the Polytechnic Society of Louisville (1878), which for many years had maintained the only public library in the city. The principal newspapers are the Courier Journal (Democratic, morning), the Herald (Republican, morning), the Evening Post (Independent Democratic), and the Times (Democratic, evening). The Courier Journal is one of the most influential newspapers in the South. Henry Watterson became editor in 1868, when the Courier (1843), established and owned by Walter N. Haldeman, was consolidated with the Journal (1830), of which Watterson had become editor in 1867, and with the Democrat (1844).

The richness of the surrounding country in agricultural produce, timber, coal and iron, and its transport facilities have made Louisville a large commercial and manufacturing centre. The leaf-tobacco market is the largest in the world, most of the leaf-tobacco produced in Kentucky, which in 1900 was 34.9% of the entire crop of the United States, being handled in Louisville; the city’s trade in whisky, mules and cement[1] is notably large, and that in pork, wheat, Indian corn, coal and lumber is extensive. The total value of the manufactured products increased from $54,515,226 in 1890 to $78,746,390 in 1900 or 44.4%, and between 1900 and 1905 the value of the factory-made product increased from $66,110,474 to $83,204,125, an increase of 25.9%. Large quantities of fine bourbon whisky are distilled here; in 1905 the value of the factory product of the city was $3,878,004. The most valuable manufacture in the same year was smoking and chewing tobacco (especially plug tobacco) and snuff valued at $11,635,367—which product with that of cigars and cigarettes ($1,225,347) constituted 15.5% of the value of the factory products of the city. Other important manufactures in 1905 were: packed meats, particularly pork; men’s clothing, especially “Kentucky jeans”; flour and grist mill products; cotton-seed oil and cake; leather, especially sole leather; foundry and machine shop products; steam-railway cars; cooperage; malt liquors; carriages and wagons, especially farm wagons; and carriage and wagon materials; agricultural implements, especially ploughs; and plumbers’ supplies, including cast-iron gas and water pipes. Besides, there were many other manufactures.

The city’s water-supply is taken from the Ohio river a few miles above the city limits, and purified by large filtering plants. Nearly all the capital stock of the water-works company is owned by the municipality.

Louisville is governed under a charter of 1893, which is in the form of an act of the state legislature for the government of cities of the first class (Louisville is the only city of the first class in the state). The mayor is elected for four years, and appoints, subject to the approval of the board of aldermen, the controller and the members of the two principal executive boards—the board of public works and the board of public safety. The legislative power is vested in a general council composed of 12 aldermen and 24 councilmen. Both aldermen and councilmen serve without pay, and are elected on a general ticket for a term of two years; not more than two councilmen may be residents of the same ward, but there is no such limitation in regard to aldermen. The treasurer, tax-receiver, auditor, judge of the police court, clerk of the police court, members of the board of school trustees (1 from each legislative district) and members of the park commission are elected by popular vote; the assessor, by the general council. The duration of franchises given by the city is limited to 20 years.

History.—The site of the city was probably visited by La Salle in 1669 or 1670. In July 1773, Captain Thomas Bullitt,[2] acting under a commission from the College of William and Mary, surveyed a tract of 2000 acres, lying opposite the Falls of the Ohio, and laid out a town site upon this tract. Colonel William Preston, county surveyor of Fincastle county, within which the 2000-acre tract lay, refused to approve Captain Bullitt’s survey, and had the lands resurveyed in the following year, nevertheless the tract was conveyed in December 1773 by Lord Dunmore to his friend Dr John Connolly, a native of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, who had served in the British army, as commander of Fort Pitt (under Dunmore’s appointment), was an instigator of Indian troubles which culminated in the Battle of Point Pleasant, and was imprisoned from 1775 until nearly the close of the War of American Independence for attempting under Dunmore’s instructions to organize the “Loyal Foresters,” who were to be sent against the rebellious colonists in the West. The city of Louisville was laid out on the upper half of this Connolly tract. It is possible that there was a settlement on what was afterward called Corn Island (which has now practically disappeared), at the Falls of the Ohio, as early as 1775; in May 1778, General George Rogers Clark, while proceeding, by way of the Ohio river, against the British posts in the Illinois territory, landed on this island and built block-houses for his stores and cabins for about twenty families of emigrants who had come with him. These emigrants (or the greater part of them) removed to the mainland in the winter of 1778-1779, and established themselves in a fort built within the present limits of Louisville. A town government was organized by them in April 1779, the settlement at this time being known as “the Falls of the Ohio.” On the 14th of May 1780, the legislature of Virginia, in response to a petition of the inhabitants, declared that Connolly had forfeited his title, and incorporated the settlement under the name of Louisville, in recognition of the assistance given to the colonies in the War of Independence by Louis XVI. of France. In 1828 Louisville was chartered as a city; in 1851 it received a second city charter; in 1870, a third; and in 1893, a fourth. The city’s growth was greatly promoted by the introduction of successful steam navigation on the Ohio in 1811 and still further by the opening of the canal around the rapids (generally called the “Falls of the Ohio”). This canal, which is 2½ m. in length and is known as the Louisville and Portland canal, was authorized by the legislature in 1825 and was opened in December 1830; between 1855 and 1872 Congress made appropriations for enlarging it, and in 1874 it passed entirely under Federal control. The first railway to serve the city, the Louisville & Frankfort, was completed in 1851. The 6th of August is locally known as “Bloody Monday”; on this day in 1855 some members of the Know Nothing Party incited a riot that resulted in the loss of several lives and of considerable property. In March 1890 a tornado caused great loss in life and property in the city. General Clark made his home in Louisville and the vicinity after his return from the Illinois country in 1779. Louisville was also the early home of the actress Mary Anderson; John James Audubon lived here in 1808-1812; and 5 m. E. of the city are the old home and the grave (with a monument) of Zachary Taylor.

See Reuben T. Durrett, The Centenary of Louisville (Louisville, 1893), being No. 8 of the Filson Club Publications; J. S. Johnston (ed.), Memorial History of Louisville (Chicago, 1896); and L. V. Rule, “Louisville, the Gateway City to the South,” in L. P. Powell’s Historic Towns of the Southern States (New York, 1900).

  1. Louisville cement, one of the best-known varieties of natural cement, was first manufactured in Shipping Port, a suburb of Louisville, in 1829 for the construction of the Louisville & Portland Canal; the name is now applied to all cement made in the Louisville District in Kentucky and Indiana. There is a large Portland cement factory just outside the city.
  2. Captain Thomas Bullitt (1730-1778), a Virginian, commanded a company under Washington at Great Meadows (July 4, 1754), was in Braddock’s disastrous expedition in 1755, and after the defeat of Major James Grant in 1758 saved his disorganized army by a cleverly planned attack upon the pursuers. He became Adjutant-General of Virginia after the peace of 1763, and took part in the movements which forced Lord Dunmore to leave Norfolk. Subsequently he served in South Carolina under Colonel Lee.