From Cyndy Tandy, the latest from Louisville Uncovered
By 1830 Louisville had become Kentucky’s largest city, workers such as early hands, haulers, and shippers, and its early hotels, taverns, and gambling dens were quickly joined by traders, merchants, warehouses, and markets to run the region’s agricultural and textile bounty—tobacco, hemp, pork, and corn, and jeans.
Money men came and invested in the city’s boom, as well as insurers to guarantee it. Keelboats and wagons, steamboats, engines, and later the railroads, even at one time wooden cargo air craft were all built in Louisville to all the city’s payloads. Louisville seized the manufacturing opportunities, such as farm implements and furniture. Labor forces were waves of German and Irish immigrants arrived to join locals and black freedmen. The result was an economically diverse and ethnic mix (61,000 whites, 4,900 slaves and 1,900 free blacks) that made Louisville in 1860 the nation’s 12th largest city. On the eve of the Civil War, it was an essential commercial and transportation link between North and South.
Louisville became a staging ground for Union troops heading south. Union troops flowed into Louisville from Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. White tents and training grounds sprang up at the Oakland track, Old Louisville and Portland. Camps were also established at Eighteenth and Broadway, along the Frankfort and Bardstown turnpikes.
By early 1862, Louisville had eighty thousand Union troops throughout the city. With so many troops, entrepreneurs set up gambling spots offering keno, fero, roulette and poker (C-J, 1920) along the North side of Jefferson from 4th to 5th Street, extending around the corner from 5th to Market, then continuing on the South side of Market back to 4th Street. Photography studios and military goods shops, such as Fletcher & Bennett on Main Street and Hirschbuhl & Sons, located on Main Street, east of 3rd Street, catered to the Union officers and soldiers. With so many Union troops, brothels also sprung up around the city.
Some interesting facts:
Louisville Economic Timeline
1782 First traders leave recently established town headed for New Orleans, followed a year later by opening of first general store, tobacco warehouse, and commercial production of whiskey
1816 First insurance company incorporates and branch of the Bank of the United States opens
1831 Opening of first canal allowing navigation around the Falls of Ohio
1859 Louisville and Nashville Railroad runs first train from Louisville to Nashville in 10 hours
1861 Union loyalties prevail over Confederate sympathies, and Louisville becomes major staging, supply, and medical center for northern troops in the Civil War’s western theater
1883 The Southern Exposition, at the time the second largest industrial and mercantile exposition in the nation’s history, begins five-year run
1896 Local tobacco market ranks as world’s largest
Louisville Political/Civic Timeline
1780 Assembly of Virginia establishes the town of Louisville, which will become the only sizable city that grows up on the southern banks of the Ohio River
1792 Commonwealth of Kentucky enters the United States as the 15th state
1837 Louisville City Council establishes a city college that becomes the precursor of the University of Louisville
1855 “Bloody Monday” election day ethnic violence leaves 22 dead
1861 Civil War breaks out, straining ties within the city and across Kentucky
1863 Emancipation Proclamation frees slaves
1865 In aftermath of the war, city becomes home to a number of influential former Confederates 1875 First running of the Kentucky Derby, won by Aristides
1879 Kentucky Normal and Theological Institute (later Simmons College) established as first institution of higher education open to blacks in Kentucky and, by 1931, one of only three liberal arts colleges accessible to black students in the United States
1891 New Board of Parks Commissioners recruits Frederick Law Olmsted to design three large suburban parks linked by parkways
1905 Louisville Free Public Library opens
1937 Great Flood of the Ohio River submerges much of city