By: Jack Welch
courtesy of Louisville Magazine
1.There are eight other Louisvilles in the U.S. — in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio and Tennessee — but ours is the only one with a silent “s.” Apparently the others were named in honor of fellows who were not French kings.
2.While it’s true that no native Louisvillian has ever been elected
3. Since 1994, when the University of Louisville/University of Kentucky football rivalry resumed after a long absence, neither school has been able to win both the football and basketball match-ups in any year, with the exception of 2003, when U of L won an offensive football battle, 40-24, and then a defensive basketball contest, 65-56.
4. Nobody’s found a way to turn them into a loud, fully accoutered theme park yet, so the fossil beds at the Falls of the Ohio — the area’s most extraordinary natural wonder, formed by the skeletons of marine life 430 million years ago — will most likely remain a recreation spot for curiosity-seekers, birders and geology enthusiasts for decades to come.
5. Twenty years ago,
6. Abraham Lincoln’s grandfather, also named Abraham Lincoln, was shot and killed by Indians in 1786 while clearing trees on his farmstead near present-day
7. One of the tangible rewards of
8. The phrase describing
9. It’s perfectly acceptable for women in Louisville to call anybody — children, men or other women — “sweetie” or “honey,” as long as you have the sugary Southern accent to back it up or 20-plus years of experience waiting tables at a local diner.
10. If you were wondering whatever happened to
11. Some streets and roads disappear and reappear on local maps, but none does so with such crafty elusiveness as
12. It will forever be recorded in etymology books that the late
. Smith, it should be noted, did take credit for inventing the language.
13. When a stranger to town asks you for directions — so says the unwritten
14. In August, Airports Council International ranked
15. Your standard city tax as a resident of Louisville goes into a general fund to pay off general city-bond indebtedness, but your occupational license tax of 2.2 percent of gross earnings for working here gets split up to go into three separate pots: 1.25 percent for some murky reason to “Louisville Metro, Kentucky,” 0.75 percent to Jefferson County or Anchorage school boards, and 0.2 percent to TARC, the public-transit system. Duly ordained ministers and domestic servants are exempted from the Louisville Metro and TARC portions, and people who work here but live outside the city are exempted from the school board portion. If you live here but work somewhere else, you get a free pass.
16. Notable big-screen actors who appeared in at least one Actors Theatre production include Holly Hunter, John Lithgow, Julianne Moore, Chris Cooper, Kevin Bacon, Calista Flockhart, Kathy Bates, Armand Assante, John Turturro, Dianne Wiest, Mercedes Ruhl, Lili Taylor — oh, and let’s not forget favorite son Ned Beatty.
17. The Italianate-style Brennan House, built in 1868 at
The WPA Guide to Kentucky, “a number of brick homes in the Greek Revival style (were) sandwiched between business properties” north of Jefferson Street, and bigger homes with spacious yards lined the south side of Walnut Street (Muhammad Ali Boulevard) between Floyd and Sixth streets.
18. Louisville’s 1937 flood is referred to as a 500-year flood, meaning there’s a 0.2 percent chance the Ohio River will flood to that extent in any given year, whereas — for comparison sake — the swollen river produced only a 40-year flood in 1997 (although 10 inches of rain created a 100-year-plus inland flood). To get a sense of how high the ’37 floodwaters were, visit any of the city’s floodwalls (built subsequent to the deluge) and measure three feet down from the top edge. That’s where the water would be lapping.
19. Louisville whiskey distiller Isaac Wolfe Bernheim (the I.W. in I.W. Harper bourbon) not only donated the land that became Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, but he presented Louisville with Moses Ezekiel’s Jefferson statue (1899, in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse) and George Gray Barnard’s Lincoln statue (1922, alongside the Louisville Free Public Library on York Street), as well as a 1918 addition to Jewish Hospital.
20. The 68-foot-high dome in the rotunda of the Greek Revival Jefferson County Courthouse, along with the rotunda’s cast-iron floor and winding staircase, was not the work of Kentucky Capitol designer Gideon Shryock, the building’s original architect, who quit or was dismissed from the 1836 project after years of delays. The credit goes to bridge designer Albert Fink and partner Charles Stancliff, who saw to the completion of the courthouse in 1860. It did double duty as county facility and
21. Louisville’s most colorful local leg/files/storyimages/— even better than picturing Al Capone scurrying down a secret passageway at the Seelbach after an Oakroom raid — is that of the goat-headed Pope Lick Monster, who lures teens onto the high railroad trestle over Pope Lick Creek, just beyond the Gene Snyder Freeway off Taylorsville Road. The leg/files/storyimages/spawned a locally produced short film (
The Leg/files/storyimages/of the Pope Lick Monster
, 1988) and the 1998 Naomi Wallace play
The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek
22. Most people know that
Plessy v. Fergusoncourt upholding (1896) by declaring, “Our Constitution is color-blind. All citizens are equal before the law.” Fifty-eight years later, in
Brown v. Board of Education, the court finally came around to his opinion.
23. In 1979 the
teeth. Even with its fierce set of chompers, though, it would still lose in a fight to almost every other Big East mascot, including the Blue Demon, Scarlet Knight, Bearcat and — yes — Friar. The only beatable opponent for the bird would be the Syracuse Orange, and that’s because it’s a piece of fruit.
24. The city’s downtown and most of the county west of
25. The cost of the ticket for parking illegally in a downtown fire lane, no-stopping zone or handicap space: $100 minimum. The cost of retrieving your car from the
26. Louisville has neighborhoods named Smoketown (for the tobacco warehouses that proliferated there), Butchertown (for its German-run stockyards and slaughterhouses) and Rubbertown (where most of the tires used in World War II were made), but no Bourbontown — despite, at one time, a slew of distilleries in the South End and a liquor warehouse district on Main Street.
27. The bombastic and reflective sides of Muhammad Ali were first put on public display after the first Sonny Liston fight in 1964. Immediately after, he shouted to reporters, “Eat your words! Eat your words! I am the greatest.” The next morning he told them, “All I want now is to be a nice, clean gentleman. I’ve proved my point. Now I’m going to set an example for all the nice boys and girls. I’m through talking.”
28. The only company town in
A Place in Time: The Story of Louisville’s Neighborhoods, the area had been known as Riverview when the Kosmos Cement Co. began operating in 1904. The enterprise built 12 duplexes for workers, a school, a medical office, a railroad depot and a company store, creating a community from a next-to-nothing burg.
29. While merger has caused downtown’s economic-development crew and the Census Bureau to argue over Louisville’s population ranking among U.S. cities — the former, using 2006 estimates for all of Jefferson County, claims the 17th position; the census bureau, subtracting the 80 or so incorporated communities in the county, offers the 27th — this much is clear: Merger allowed Louisville to retake the top spot in the state after Lexington had temporarily overtaken Louisville through its own city-county merger.
30. While gorillas, baby elephants and pygmy hippos grab the spotlight at the Louisville Zoo, the zoo’s 16-year-old black-footed ferret breeding-for-recovery program continues to help refill the wilds of
31. One of the city attributes that can actually be described as world-class (without employing blind boosterism or gross exaggeration) is the
32. Before the first auto bridge between
33. What may well be
34. The club name “Colonels” has been used by
35. Conceived of as having the biggest branding potential for
36. If you were wondering what those two little steeple-like nubs sticking up from the Grandstand area of Churchill Downs are, they’re what’s left of the once-prominent Twin Spires, erected in 1895 and gradually “swallowed” by renovations to the complex over the past five or so years.
37. To gain an idea of how invested in the bourbon industry Louisville was in the early 1900s, take a walk along the south side of the 100 block of West Washington Street downtown, part of what came to be known as “whiskey row.” There you’ll find porcelain plaques in the sidewalk marking the addresses of the nine distillery warehouses on the block: Thomas & Son, J.T.S. Brown, Old Kentucky, Brown Forman, Grabfelder, W.L. Weller & Sons, Bernheim, Wright & Taylor & Old Charter, and Bonnie Bros.
38. All over the country people are voicing their promised determination to get something or other done “after New Year’s.” Only in
39. One constant on hot summer weekends in
40. On Friday the 13th in February 1981, a spark from a car at 12th and Hill streets ignited thousands of gallons of the solvent hexane that had been illegally discharged into the city’s sewer system, resulting in a series of
manhole-cover explosions that helicopter police said looked “like a bombing run” down Hill Street. More than two miles of street pavement was destroyed or damaged, and getting everything back to normal took more than two years.
41. The small brick Italianate building
42.You should know by now that when a fellow Louisvillian asks you where you went to school, he or she means high school, not college, with the implicit assumption that you’ve lived in
43. The concrete filigree that sheathes St. Matthews’
44.If Mayor Jerry Abramson decides to run for a third consecutive term in 2010, after completing three previous terms in 1998, he will be shooting for an almost unheard-of (Chicago’s Richard J. Daley, 1955-76, only got to 21) silver anniversary mayoral reign.
45.Douglass Loop in the
46. If you expect
47. The first major-league baseball scandal did not involve Shoeless Joe Jackson and the notorious Chicago “Black Sox” (actually, White Sox) in the 1919 World Series. Instead, it involved four players for the 1877 National League Louisville Grays, who either accepted bribes or had knowledge of the bribes from gamblers for throwing games, causing
’s relationship with
49. Lebowski Fest, the annual
The Big Lebowski
, has gained national notoriety since it was started in 2002 by young 30- somethings Will Russell, Scott Shuffitt and Bill Green, drawing attendees from 35 states and spawning Lebowski Fests in
I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski
, that’s been on the
50. A theory accepted by many for Louisvillians’ propensity to gather like Capistrano swallows in