Fun Facts about Louisville, Kentucky - Louisville Article

Louisville IQ: Fun Facts about Kentucky's Derby City

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Louisville IQ: Fun Facts about Kentucky's Derby City

Published Aug 9, 2013
Updated Nov 6, 2017

Downtown Louisville has a rich history filled with historical events and experiences unique to Kentucky that are sure to please even the most sesoned travelers and keep locals engaged. When you are home to as many fesitivals, famous locations and other social circles as Lousiville, there's always something new to discover or learn!

Just For Fun:

• Thunder Over Louisville is the largest annual fireworks display on the North American Continent. More than 60 tons of pyrotechnics are fired off each spring to kick off the Kentucky Derby Festival.

• Louisville’s David Armstrong Extreme Park has 24 square feet of “full pipe” at the 40,000 sq ft downtown facility.

• The many spectacularly decorated horses you see around town were decorated and auctioned as part of the Gallopalooza event which takes place every five years. The proceeds from the auction are distributed to local charities and the horses are displayed for everyone’s enjoyment.

• One third of all bourbon in the U.S. comes from Louisville.

• The steel bat leaning against the Louisville Slugger Museum is a 120-foot-tall replica of Babe Ruth’s 34 inch bat. It weighs 68,000 lbs.

• Before the first auto bridge, Colonel Harlan Sanders founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, operated a ferryboat between Jeffersonville, Indiana and Louisville.

• 90% of all disco balls are made in Louisville.

• Louisville is home to one of the very few fine jewelers in the US who cut their own diamonds. Seng Jewelers cuts the trademarked Seng Firey Diamond™ at their store on S. Fourth St.

• During the Dalai Lama’s 2013 visit to the Festival of Faiths, Mayor Greg Fischer adopted the “International Charter For Compassion” making Louisville the largest city in America to take this action. Louisville is now a “City of Compassion.”

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• The Pendennis Club is a private club established in 1881 and modeled in part on English gentleman’s clubs. It is where The Old Fashioned drink was first served.

• Louisville is home to the world’s largest inland saltwater lobster tank. Lobsters are flown in from Nova Scotia and spend a day in the spa prior to being shipped to some of the finest restaurants across the country.

• Bourbon balls were invented by Ruth Booe, near Frankfort, KY, in response to a local dignitary publicly commenting that the two best tastes in the world were Bourbon and Ms. Booe’s candy. The recipe she used is still a secret!

Kentucky Derby Facts:

• The first Kentucky Derby race occurred in 1875. Approximately 10,000 people watched 15 thoroughbred horses run a 1.5 mile course. In 1876, the length of the race was changed to 1.25 miles.

• The Kentucky Derby now averages about 150,000 people per year. The attendance record was set during the running of the 137th Kentucky Derby in 2011 with 164,858 attendees.

Kern's Kitchen invented Derby-Pie® in Louisville in 1954 and it was trademarked in1969. Over 200,000 slices are enjoyed at Derby parties in Louisville and around the country on Derby Day alone.

• The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. It consists of bourbon, mint, and a sweet syrup with lots of ice. Over 120,000 mint juleps are served at the Kentucky Derby each year.

• The Kentucky Oaks is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred fillies held the Friday before the Kentucky Derby each year.

• Pink is the official color of both the Kentucky Oaks and breast cancer awareness. Attendees of the Oaks are encouraged to incorporate pink into their attire on Oaks Day and Churchill Downs decorates their facility accordingly to commemorate breast cancer awareness.

• American Pharoah, the 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner, went on to win the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

Historical Facts:

• The American Printing House for the Blind, founded in 1858, is the nation’s oldest institution devoted to creating products for the visually impaired. It is the largest printer of Braille products in the world.

• F. Scott Fitzgerald was stationed at Louisville’s Camp Taylor during WWI. He used several local landmarks in his novel The Great Gatsby, including the Seelbach Hotel.

• Auguste Rodin’s "The Thinker" presides at the front of Grawemeyer Hall at the University of Louisville. Created in Paris, it is believed to have been supervised by the artist himself.

• Built in 1943, the Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating steamboat in America.

• The phrase describing Louisville as the “Gateway to the South” goes all the way back to the opening of the Clark Memorial Bridge in 1929 where they had a huge sign erected atop its Second Street substation. Louisville sits on the Mason-Dixon Line. It is the southern most northern city and the northern most southern city.

• Corn Island was the 70 acre site of the original Louisville settlement started by George Rogers Clark in 1778. After the dam and hydroelectric plant was built on the Ohio River in 1927 it caused the island to “sink” when water was diverted to the Louisville side.

• At the Falls of the Ohio there are more than 220 acres of exposed Devonian age fossil beds. This is second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.

• Old Louisville includes the largest collection of Victorian mansions and homes in the U.S.

• The first hand transplant to achieve prolonged success was directed by University of Louisville surgeons Drs. Warren Breidenbach and Tsu-Min Tsai in cooperation with the Kleinert Hand Institute and Jewish Hospital.

• Louisville received its charter from Virginia governor Thomas Jefferson in 1780.

Also Read:

Urban Bourbon Trail: A Passport to Louisville

Visit Wild Rita's Modern Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar

Bluegrass and Backroads: Kern's Kitchen & Derby Pie®

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