PERM - The poem of the town PERM - The poem of the town
PERM - The poem of the town PERM - The poem of the town

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Sister City: Louisville, State Kentucky, USA - since 1994

The history of Louisville spans hundreds of years, and has been influenced by the area's unique geography and location. The first settlement was made in the vicinity of modern-day Louisville in 1778 by Col. George Rogers Clark. Today, Col. Clark is now recognized as the founder of Louisville, and several landmarks are named after him.

View of Main Street, Louisville, in 1846.Two years later, in 1780, the Virginia General Assembly and then-Governor Thomas Jefferson approved the town charter of Louisville. The city was named in honor of King Louis XVI of France, whose soldiers at the time were aiding Americans in the Revolutionary War. In 1803, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark organized their expedition across America at the Falls of the Ohio in Louisville.


View of Main Street, Louisville, in 1846.

The city achieved its early growth from the fact that boats had to be unloaded and moved downriver before reaching the falls. By 1828, the population had swelled to 7,000 and Louisville became an incorporated city. The city grew rapidly in its formative years.

Louisville had one of the largest slave trades in the United States before the Civil War and much of the city's initial growth is attributed to that trade. Louisville was the turning point for many enslaved blacks since Kentucky was a neutral state and crossing the Ohio River would lead to freedom in the North.

During the Civil War Louisville was a major stronghold of Union forces, which kept Kentucky firmly in the Union. It was the center of planning, supplies, recruiting and transportation for numerous campaigns. By the end of the war, Louisville itself had not been attacked even once, even though surrounded by various battles. The Unionists — most whose leaders owned slaves — felt betrayed by the abolitionist position of the Republican Party. After 1865 returning Confederate veterans largely took control of the city, leading to the jibe that it joined the Confederacy after the war was over.

In late January and February of 1937, a month of heavy rain throughout the Ohio River Valley prompted what became remembered as the "Great Flood of '37". The flood submerged about 70% of the city and forced the evacuation of 175,000 residents, and also lead to fundamental changes in where residents bought houses. Today, the city is protected by numerous flood walls.


View of Downtown Louisville
with Hospital Curve in the foreground.

Similar to many other older American cities, Louisville began to decline as an important city in the 1960s and 1970s. Highways that had been built in the 1950s facilitated a flight to the suburbs, and the downtown area began to decline economically. In 1974 a major (F4) tornado hit Louisville as part of the Super Outbreak of tornadoes that struck 13 states. It covered 21 miles (34 km) and destroyed several hundred homes in the Louisville area but was only responsible for two deaths.

From 1974 to 1988, Jefferson County had a net loss of over 50,000 people. Since 1989 the county has gained population every year, and is currently growing annually between 800 to 1700. Louisville has also made efforts to revitalize its downtown and the city in general, including significant downtown infrastructure improvements such as the conversion of the waterfront into Waterfront Park and the development of luxury condominiums and entertainment areas like Fourth Street Live!. Louisville's metro area is outgrowing Lexington's by a significant margin (about 4,100 a year, or 41,000 per census), and is growing nearly as fast as Cincinnati's metro area.

Alexander Kashintsev © The city of Perm