Named for King Louis XVI of France in appreciation for his assistance during the Revolutionary War, Louisville was founded by George Rogers Clark in 1778. President Zachary Taylor was reared in surrounding Jefferson County, and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices, including Louis D. Brandeis, the first Jewish Justice, were from the city proper.
John James Audubon was a local shopkeeper in the early years of his career, drawing birds in his spare time. The Frederick Law Olmsted Firm designed the city's park system, praised as the finest of the three public parks Olmsted created in the 1890s. 2nd Lt. F. Scott Fitzgerald, stationed at Camp Zachary Taylor during WWI, was a frequent presence at the bar in the famous Seelbach Hotel.
Owing to its strategic location at the Falls of the Ohio, Louisville was a major commercial center. River transportation was supplemented by the construction of the L&N Railroad to the south. Manufacturing was slow to develop but arrived with great force following the Civil War. Joseph E. Seagram and Sons opened the world's largest distillery in Louisville following the repeal of prohibition. Thanks to companies such as Dupont, the city became the world's largest producer of synthetic rubber during WWII. Louisville Slugger bats still reign supreme in major league baseball.
For more than 125 years the world's attention has turned to Louisville for the annual running of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. With more than 1,800 entries ranging from Helen Abell (historic preservationist) to Sebastian Zorn (twice president of the Louisville Water Co.), The Encyclopedia of Louisville is the ultimate reference for Kentucky's first chartered city.