Historical timeline of the city of Louisville, Kentucky. Presented by K Composite Magazine and Louisville.cc, the Louisville History Website.
Historical Timeline of the City of LOUISVILLE, Kentucky, Presented by Louisville.cc - Louisville History Site - Gereral Louisville History
With a population of about 7,000 people, Louisville becomes an incorporated city, and elects John Bucklin as the city's first mayor.
The University of Louisville is founded as the nation's first municipal university. It incorporates, combines with the Louisville Medical Institue and opens a law school 18 years later.
10,000 spectators attend a thoroughbred horse race at Old Louisville's Oakland Race Course. The two-horse match, in which Grey Eagle loses to Wagner, has an enormous $14,000 purse and takes place 36 years before the first Kentucky Derby.
Aug. 6, 1855: ÔÔBloody Monday'' Encouraged by the Louisville Daily Courier's editorials, Germans, Irish and Catholics are beaten and shot by members of the political American Party (the ÔÔKnow Nothings''). This Election Day uprising leaves 22 dead.
As a 19-year-old telegraph operator living in the Butchertown neighborhood, Thomas Edison is fired for spilling acid on his boss' desk. After losing his job, he leaves Louisville and subsequently invents electric lighting and the phonograph. He also contributes improvements to motion pictures and telegraphs.
Aristides wins the first Kentucky Derby on May 17. The race is held at the new Louisville Jockey Club track, and is the brainchild of Meriwether Clark (grandson of William Clark of the Lewis & Clark Expedition). 10,000 people show up for the first Derby, and the Jockey Club is later renamed Churchill Downs.
Professional baseball launches the National League with the Louisville Grays team as a charter member. The Grays finish the season fifth of six teams.
John ÔÔBud'' Hillerich makes a baseball bat in his father's wood shop from white ash. He continues making bats and starts using the name 'Louisville Slugger' about ten years later. The company he started, Hillerich & Bradsby, now manufactures a million wooden bats per year, which accounts for 2 of every 3 wooden bats sold worldwide. They also make about 2 of every 5 aluminum bats sold.
On Feb. 25, the 22-year-old Cassius Clay, defeats Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. The following day, Clay announces that he is a member of the Nation of Islam, and has changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
On April 3, a tornado reaches 250 mph and stays on the ground for about 20 minutes while tearing through Louisville and damaging 1,800 houses. Two Louisvillians are killed as well as 85 others in adjacent areas. The same day, more than 100 tornadoes rip though 10 states, killing a total of 322 people.
The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) is established to address the area's public transportation needs1975
Jefferson County Public Schools are ordered into an immediate busing program by a Federal Court to racially integrate classes. Police ride aboard school buses to protect students from white protesters who bombard buses with rocks in southern Jefferson County.
William DeVries and Allan Lansing of the Humana Heart Institute implant the Jarvik-7 artificial heart into the chest of Bill Schroeder. He lives 119 days with the device.
Louisville baseball legend Pee Wee Reese is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.13,000 BC
The prehistoric era in the Louisville area is divided by today's archaelogists into six cultural periods: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, Adena, Mississippian and the Fort Ancient culture, which ended about 1650 AD.1650
Shawnee tribes from north of the Ohio River fought with Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes from south of the Cumberland River for control of the 'Great Meadow.' No Native Americans ever officially held possesion of the land that became Kentucky.
With the exception of a few remaining bands of Cherokee, Chickasaw and Shawnee, by the time white pioneers began to actually settle in the Kentucky, most of the native population had disappeared.1751
Explorer Christopher Gist covers areas along the Ohio River.
Following the French and Indian War, France relenquishes control of the area of Kentucky to England.
On June 7th, Daniel Boone and John Finley are first see the distant Bluegrass at Pilot Knob.
Daniel Boone builds the Wilderness Trail and establishes
Fort Boonesboro. Native Americans give Richard Henderson a tract of land
between the Ohio River and Cumberland River for the Transylvania Land Company.
The following year, Virginia declares Transylvania illegal and creates Kentucky
County from the land involved.
Major George Rogers Clark travels with 150 soldiers and 80
settlers from Redstone, Pennsylvania, down the Ohio River to Corn Island.
A month later, Clark takes the soldiers to fight the British in the American
Revolution. The families left behind establish Fort Nelson, the first permanent
settlement at the site of Louisville. George Rogers Clark is now recognized
as the founder of Louisville.
The Virginia legislature and Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson approve the town charter of Louisville. The new city is named for French King Louis XVI, in gratitude for his support of the American colonists. Named after the governor, Jefferson County is created with Louisville as the county seat. The county is later divided into 28 counties.
Louisville's first fire department is established.
The last battle of American Revolution is fought at Blue
Licks, Kentucky, near Mount Olivet. Kentuckians suffer great losses against
the British and Indians. One of Daniel Boone's sons is lost in the fight.
First of ten conventions is held to prepare the way for separation of Kentucky from Virginia. Louisville's first police officer is sworn in the following year.
The westernmost region of Kentucky is annexed, following its purchase from the Chicasaw tribe.
The first major battle on Kentucky soil during the Civil War was fought near Prestonsburg on January 10. On October 8th, Kentucky's bloodiest Civil War battle was fought in the Battle of Perryville.
President Lincoln appoints Louisvillian James B. Speed as US Attorney General. Despite Kentucky's declaration of neutrality, Speed strongly advocates keeping the state in the Union.
Kentucky has four governors during a span of less than three months, between early December 1899 and February 1900. One of them, Governor William Goebel, was shot by an assassin on January 30, 1900.
The Brown Hotel introduces the Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich covered in cheese sauce.
The US Gold Depository is established at Fort Knox. The vault is built the following year.
Kentucky is first Southern state to pass a comprehensive civil rights law.
Jerry Abramson is elected for the first of four consecutive terms. He earns the nickname 'Mayor for Life' and spearheads a major revitalization of the city.
Emergency 911 telephone system initiated.
Scripps acquires the National Spelling Bee from the Courier-Journal. The National Spelling Bee continues annually today in Washington, DC, under the direction Scripps-Howard.
Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald creates 'The Great Gatsby' during numerous visits to the Seelbach Hotel. His meetings with gangster George Remus become the inspiration for the Jay Gatsby character. The Seelbach appears in his book as the setting for Tom and Daisy Buchanan's wedding reception.
Louisville's Youth Curfew Law goes into effect. Local youth publication Brat organizes a free concert during which popular local groups play across the street from City Hall. Hundreds of teens attend the nighttime concert in defiance of the new law.2001
Miss America 2000, Heather French, and Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Stephen Henry are married in Louisville.
The one-millionth Ford Explorer produced at Ford's Louisville Assembly Plant on August 27.2003
Louisville becomes the 16th largest city in the United States, larger than Boston, Milwaukee, Nashville, Seattle and Memphis.
President Woodrow Wilson appoints Louisville liberal Louis Brandeis to the US Supreme Court. He is the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice.
The Ford Motor Company opens its first Louisville assembly factory. Today, more Ford trucks are made in Louisville than anywhere else.
Lawrence Wetherby, Kentucky's only Louisville-born governor, takes office. The governor reforms the Commonwealth's tax system and creates the Department of Mental Health. He also helps secure funding for the state fairgrounds in Louisville, which includes Freedom Hall and Fairgounds Stadium (later renamed Cardinal Stadium).
The first issue of Louisville Magazine is published by the Chamber of Commerce.
Louisville schools go co-ed.
Charles Farnsley becomes mayor of Louisville. His term, which lasts through 1953, is instrumental in bringing Louisville into the modern era. His administration repaves a mile a day of Louisville's roadways and creates the Louisville Fund for the Arts.
Louisvillian Cassius Clay wins the gold medal in boxing for the United States at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.
In April, Muhammad Ali refuses induction into the United States Army to fight in Viet Nam. He is stripped of his heavyweight title and his license to fight professionally. While banned from boxing, Ali becomes an advocate for peace and conflict resolution by speaking at schools and universities. The Supreme Court overturns his conviction four years later in an 8-0 decision.
Lyman Johnson, a teacher at Louisville Central Colored High School, and a group of activists sue the University of Kentucky in an effort to end its segregation practices.
The first segment of the Inner-Belt highway opens between Bardstown Road and Breckenridge Lane.
The city commissions legendary Austrian typographer Victor Hammer to design its official city seal. It is used until 2003, when it is replaced by the merged Louisville-Jefferson County government with a new design by Glenn Hack. Hammer also designed the University of Louisville's official seal.
The man who saved Churchill Downs and built the Kentucky Derby into a major event dies. Matt Winn was witness to all 75 runs of the Kentucky Derby.
Catherine Spalding of Bardstown moves to Louisville to establish Presentation Academy, a Catholic school for girls, and St. Vincent Orphanage (later renamed St. Joseph), both of which are still in operation over 170 years later. Spalding University in Louisville is named after her.
Thomas Rice portrays a character named Jim Crow in the Louisville theater production 'The Kentucky Rifle.' The term 'Jim Crow' becomes a well-known slang term for segregation based on the premise of African-American inferiority.
The Louisville and Portland Canal, begun in 1826, is completed. The canal allows boat traffic to travel the entire 981 miles of the Ohio River from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, without dismantling their loads to circumvent the Falls of the Ohio at Louisville.
A new daily newspaper, The Louisville Journal, is launched by A.J. Buxton and George D. Prentice.
On February 14, the last edition of The Louisville Times is published. The Bingham family had sold the newspaper to Gannett the previous year along with The Courier-Journal.
White Castle builds an 18,000 square-foot plant in Louisville to produce and package its square burgers to be sold in grocery stores.
Jerry Abramson is elected to his fourth consecutive term as mayor, taking over 90% of the vote.
Louisville sisters Patty Smith Hill and Mildred Jane Hill write the song 'Happy Birthday To You' for their kindergarten class. The song is originally titled 'Good Morning to You,' but doesn't catch on popularly until the words are changed.
Kentucky voters approve the creation of a state lottery.
Zambelli Fireworks takes control of the Kentucky Derby Festival's Thunder Over Louisville. The enormous display is unchallenged as the largest annual fireworks exhibition in North America.
Abram H. Bowman leases a piece of land from the federal government to open the area's first airfield. After several years it is named Bowman Field, and begins offering passenger flights through TWA, Eastern, and Continental Airlines.
A major tornado system rips through Louisville on March 27th. It carves a path from the Parkland neighborhood to Crescent Hill, killing 78 people and destroying 766 buildings. Another 250 Louisvillians are injured.
The last passenger train leaves Louisville on October 31 enroute to Nashville. The Union Station terminal on West Broadway closes after serving passengers for 85 years.
The Courier-Journal creates and hosts the first National Spelling Bee.
Louisville Fire Department completes its transition to motorized vehicles by removing its last horse-drawn vehicle from service.
In January, Ohio River flood waters cover 75% of the city. 230,000 people are forced to evacuate and 90 people die. The river crests at 27.15 feet above flood stage. A pontoon bridge is constructed out of empty whiskey barrels which allows people to reach dry ground in the Highlands.
The Louisville Orchestra performs its first concert on November 2.
Margaret Bourke-White makes a famous photograph of a line of Louisville flood victims in front of a billboard that reads 'World's highest standard of Living: There's no way like the American way.'1815
The Enterprise, the first steamboat to travel from New Orleans to Louisville, arrives.2002
Former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson is elected the first mayor of the newly merged Louisville-Jefferson County Metro government.
Construction begins on downtown's $42 million Muhammad Ali Center. The center will house international cultural and educational programs as well as an Ali museum.1774
James Harrod begins constructing the first permanent settlement in Kentucky at Fort Harrod. Native Americans temporarily force the white settlers to withdraw from Harrodstown (now called Harrodsburg), but they return the following year.1669
If Prince Madoc of Wales wasn't the first European to visit
the site that would later become Louisville, many accounts indicate that
French explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was. Some historians
dispute this claim, but if it wasn't La Salle or Madoc, no one can say for
sure who it was.
In the 1850 Cenus, Louisville is the nation's 10th biggest city. Kentucky is the 8th most populous state.
Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company is founded.
Louisvillian Zachary Taylor, a hero of the Mexican War, becomes 12th president of United States. 'Old Rough and Ready' served only four months before dying in office of cholera. He is buried in Louisville at Zachary Taylor National Cemetary on Brownsboro Road.
Kentucky declares its neutrality in American Civil War. The state had sent about 86,000 troops to the north and 40,000 troops to the south. A testament to Kentucky's 'border state' status, it is the birthplace of both Union President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. 1792
On June 1st, Kentucky becomes the 15th state. Frankfort outbids
Louisville to become the state capital, and Isaac Shelby becomes Kentucky's
Wilderness Road in eastern Kentucky opens to wagon traffic.
Kentucky Legislature passes resolutions opposing United States
Alien and Sedition Acts.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark use the Falls of the Ohio
and the Louisville area as the meeting point to begin the Lewis and Clark
Expedition. The trip takes them across the western part of the US, surveying
the Louisiana Purchase, and eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean.
State lawmakers Henry Clay of Lexington and Humphrey Marshall of Louisville duel on the Southern Indiana shore. Clay is wounded slightly in the thigh and Marshall is grazed in the abdomen. The duel emerged after a debate in which Humphrey called Clay a liar and Clay suggested Marshall was less than honorable. Marshall then called Clay a "poltroon,'' or coward, after which only bullets could settle the matter.
A Louisville ordinance is adopted requiring all property owners with more than $40 of annual income to provide two buckets per household for fire protection.Ê 1981
United Parcel Service begins a new overnight-delivery business with hub operations at Louisville's airport. Due to the UPS presence, Louisville's airport is now the fifth largest air cargo port in the US and the eighth largest in the world. Over 20,000 Louisvillians are employed at the site.
At Kaelin's Restaurant on Newburg Road, the first US instance of a hamburger being served with a slice of cheese on top is documented as the 'cheeseburger.'1891
Union Station passenger train hub opens September 7, with the 7:30 AM arrival of the first train. It is recognized as the largest train station in the South at the time.
The city's first library, the Louisville Library Company, opens to the public with subscription-based service.
The Louisville Free Public Library opens. It is the city's thirteenth library, and ultimately becomes its most successful and enduring.
The Inner-Belt highway is renamed the Henry Watterson Expressway in honor of the 50-year editor of the Courier-Journal. In the next ten years, 'the Watterson' is extended to connect Dixie Highway and Shelbyville Road.
Bill Samuels, Sr., destroys his family's bourbon formula and sets out to create a new recipe. His refurbished distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, releases Maker's Mark in 1959.
General Electric Appliance Park opens near Buechel.
The Louisville Water Company, established in 1854 as a private corporation by the Kentucky legislature, begins pumping water to customers. Work on the 100-million-gallon Crescent Hill Reservoir begins the following year.
The city-owned Louisville Zoo opens on Trevilian Way with 134 acres of exhibit space.
Courier-Journal publisher Walter Haldeman launches The Louisville Times as an afternoon newspaper designed to compete with the Evening Post.
The Natural History Museum opens. Its name is changed in 1985 to the Museum of History and Science, and again in 1994 to the Louisville Science Center.
WHAS goes on the air as the city's first radio station.
Prince Madoc of Wales leads an expedition to the west with as many as ten ships. Some historians believe Madoc and his entourage were the first Europeans to visit America, and subsequently the future site of Louisville. The Welsh were possibly the builders of a number of stone forts along the rivers between Mobile Bay, Alabama, and the Louisville area. Neither Native Americans nor prehistoric cultures built stone structures of this kind. One fort in Indiana across from Louisville is dated to this era. Cherokee and other tribes spread tales of Welsh people who settled these areas, and later, of fair-skinned Welsh-speaking Indians. Members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition hear many of these stories 600 years later. Prince Madoc's expedition predated that of Christopher Columbus by over 300 years.
A stone fort dating back as far as the 12th century, and possibly built by Welsh explorers, is dismantled to make way for construction of the Big Four Railroad Bridge.
After six years as a military operation for building and modifying World War II aircraft, Standiford Field opens to commercial passengers on November 15. American, Eastern, and TWA initially carry a weekly load of about 1,300 passengers out of Louisville.
Doctors at Jewish Hospital perform the world's first successful human hand transplant. The patient, Matt Scott, a New Jersey college teacher, had lost his dominant hand in a fireworks accident 14 years earlier.
After numerous attempts dating back to 1956, voters finally approve merging the governments of Louisville and Jefferson County.
During a three-hole playoff at Louisville's Valhalla, Tiger Woods defeats Bob May to become the second golfer in history to win three majors in one season.
RENEÉ ROBERT CAVALIER SIEUR DE LA SALLE
FALLS OF THE OHIO AS SEEN IN 1796 THE NEW ORLEANS IS THE
FIRST STEAMBOAT TO
VISIT LOUISVILLE, 1811
THUNDER OVER LOUISVILLE CHURCHILL DOWNS CITY HALL
IN 1910 VICTOR HAMMER FLAGS DISPLAYED ON
FOURTH AVENUE IN 1929 ZACHARY TAYLOR
' Those persons who came by the first road, seated themselves
in the vicinity of Logan's Station, Harrodsburg, Boonesborough, and Lexington,
many of those who descended the river,
landed at Limestone, and pursued their way to Lexington;
others, however, not intimidated by the
reports of sickness prevalent at Louisville,
and of the murders committed on its settlers,
continued on to that place.'
from Sketches of Louisville and Its Environs by H. McMurtrie, 1819DANIEL BOONE CHURCHILL DOWNS IN 1901
DERBY DAY 1927
LEWIS, CLARK AND SACAGEWA
THE SEELBACH HOTEL LOUISVILLE
REGION SEEN FROM SKYLAB 2 IN 1975
UNION AND CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS SHAKING HANDS WITH KENTUCKY'S MOTTO: UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL
APRIL 3, 1974 TORNADO
LOUISVILLE'S FLAG ADOPTED OCTOBER 5, 1949
BOWMAN FIELD TERMINAL
CRESCENT HILL RESERVOIR 1795
CONTRACT SIGNED IN LOUISVILLE PAYING A PRICE FOR INDIAN SCALPS
UNION TROOPS CAMPING IN CRESCENT HILL AT THE PRESENT SITEOF
ST. JOSEPH CHILDREN'S HOMEVICTOR HAMMER'S
CITY SEAL NOAA NASA ALL ILLUSTRATIONS: U.S. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, HISTORICAL AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY, K COMPOSITE MAGAZINE, AND HEMERA, EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE INDICATED ISAAC SHELBY JEFFERSON COUNTY COURT HOUSE ST. JAMES NEIGHBORHOOD IN 1897 AEGON CENTER, COMPLETED IN 1993
KENTUCKY'S TALLEST BUILDING GEORGE ROGERS CLARK