The earliest settlements at what is now Louisville were centered around the Falls of the Ohio, which provided an impediment to seamless travel down the Ohio River. The first European settlement was Corn Island in 1778, founded by Col. George Rogers Clark. Two years later, the Virginia General Assembly approved the town charter of Louisville, named in honor of King Louis XVI of France. Louis’ soldiers were at that point aiding the Americans in the Revolutionary War. Early residents of Louisville lived in forts to protect themselves from raids by the Indians, but had moved out by the later part of the decade.
Early growth centered around the river. Because river boats had to be unloaded and moved downriver to avoid the falls, business and industry was generated. By 1828, Louisville had become an incorporated city, and it soon became a major shipping port. Additional growth was later augmented by chemical industries and later finance and insurance businesses.
Today, Louisville is best known for its attractions: the Kentucky Derby, the Louisville Slugger and its ever-expanding Waterfront Park system. It boasts a population of 741,096 and was ranked the 16th largest in the United States, but is directly the result of a city and county merger in 2003.