Steeped in tradition and bubbling over with an exuberant celebration of everything from bourbon to Beatles, every day feels like “Derby Day” in Louisville. Louisville's contradictions are what makes it special. While the Kentucky city boasts the historic Churchill Downs racetrack and the largest Victorian district in the nation, Louisville is also home to Fortune 500 companies -- and a quirky “indie” section that rivals even Portland’s famous alternative scene.
Named after France’s King Louis XVI, Louisville was officially founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark. The city got its name during the Revolutionary War, as a gesture of gratitude toward the French soldiers who aided the area residents in their fight against the British. The settlement itself grew as the end-point of a navigable section of the Ohio River. For travel and trade, the area was the most convenient spot to leave the river and continue overland to the Gulf of Mexico. The rapid growth created by this riverboat landing and trading spot led to Louisville’s incorporation as a city in 1828. Much of the city, however, had to be rebuilt after a devastating 1890 tornado, and again after a 1937 hurricane.
Louisville has a long growing season appreciated by gardeners. It’s also an easily navigable city, and hosts several media outlets. Geographically, Louisville is uniquely situated to experience each of the four seasons. Springs are mild and on the early side, while summer has its share of hazy and hot days. October brings brilliant foliage and crisper air. And while a white Christmas is a distinct possibility in Louisville, the city measures its annual snowfall in inches, not feet.
Getting Around Louisville
Much of Louisville’s transportation infrastructure is built around commuter traffic, with Interstates 64, 65 and 71 meeting up in the downtown area. But the city also looks after its walkers and bikers, with designated lanes on major bridges for non-car traffic, along with bridges that are dedicated only to cyclists and pedestrians. The Highlands, Central Phoenix Hill and Business Districts are considered the area’s most walkable neighborhoods.
Commuting in Louisville
The Transit Authority of River City makes it easy to get around Louisville and surrounding suburbs with its bus system, including its environmentally-friendly ZeroBus fleet. The area is also served by a joint Amtrak-Greyhound Station, on West Muhammad Ali Boulevard. For farther-flung travel needs, the Louisville International Airport is 10 minutes from downtown.
To keep you up to date with local doings, the daily Courier-Journal is the city’s main daily newspaper, with an alternative weekly known as the Louisville Eccentric Observer also available. All of the major network have affiliate news stations located in Louisville, including the stations WLKY 32, WHAS 11, WAVE 3 and WDRB/WMYO. The talk radio station 84 WHAS is also based in Louisville.
Truly a wonderful place to be, life in apartments in Louisville can't be beat. There is never a shortage of excitement to get out and enjoy either. From nightlife to historic landmarks to the Kentucky Derby it's hard to ever be bored here!
If there’s one landmark synonymous with Louisville, it’s Churchill Downs, the iconic racetrack at which the Kentucky Derby has been held since 1875. The Louisville Slugger baseball bat is another source of city pride, exemplified in both the minor league stadium, Louisville Slugger Field, and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. You’ll also find several universities, seminaries and technical colleges within the city limits, including the University of Louisville and its world-famous Health Sciences Center, located in the heart of the downtown area.
Things to do in Louisville
Along with acting as site of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs features races, concerts and family events throughout the year. Enjoy a game of the minor league team Louisville Bats at Louisville Slugger Field, or check out exhibits at the Muhammad Ali Museum, or the Frazier History Museum’s Lewis and Clark display. Tourists and residents alike take advantage of the area’s famous bourbon heritage by visiting Louisville distilleries for tours and tastings, including the “Urban Bourbon Trail.” You’ll also find plenty of nightlife options, including blues bars, jazz clubs, and eateries, particularly in the city’s Highlands section, which features the eclectic Bardstown Road and the aptly-named “Restaurant Row.”
The Kentucky Derby is the granddaddy of Louisville events, with about 70 related festivals happening during Derby, ranging from steamboat and balloon races to fireworks displays. Other landmark annual events include the five-day Beatles celebration, called “Abbey Road on the River,” as well as the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and The Kentucky State Fair.
Louisville Vacation spots
When you’re itching to get out of the city, you can be at Lake Cumberland within a couple of hours for swimming, picnicking and boating. The lake is an ideal vacation spot with houseboat and cabin rentals. Kentucky is cave country, so a family vacation to Mammoth Cave National Park -- the world’s longest cave system -- is not to be missed for exploring on foot, by horseback or even zip lining. Camping and lodging is readily available -- or make it a day trip from Louisville.
Where to move in Louisville
The question of neighborhoods in Louisville can get a little complicated at times, because in 2003 the city merged with the county of Jefferson, greatly extending its borders. But generally speaking, most people still consider Louisville to consist of the original downtown and its immediate surrounding areas. Most of the city’s residential area is to the south and east of the downtown. Norton Commons is a newly-created area, meant to evoke the traditional central village concept, surrounded by cozy homes, charming Louisville apartment buildings and townhouse rentals. Germantown still has the funky, industrial appeal of its early 19th century roots, and is near the downtown. Crescent Hill combines Victorian-era apartments and houses with upscale restaurants and boutiques. Clifton is noted for its progressive attitude and artsy population, and boasts plenty of apartment buildings and “shotgun style” rentals. The Highlands section, along with its indie scene shops and restaurants, also offers apartments and other rental options.