Lexington, Kentucky, has a rich history of breeding horses, growing tobacco and distilling bourbon, and the modern city has turned into a major corporate center without losing its horsey atmosphere. The National Horse Center at Lexington's Kentucky Horse Park is the national headquarters for more than 30 equine associations, and the area is home to many thoroughbred horse farms. Lexington has a population of more than 260,000 (as of the 2000 U.S. Census), and with the University of Kentucky located here, the college element often sets the tone, particularly during basketball season. The city's name honors the battle of Revolutionary War battle of Lexington, Massachusetts, fought just before Lexington, Kentucky, was founded in 1775.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Some of Lexington's main employers are The University of Kentucky, Valvoline Company, General Electric, Jif, Lexmark International, GTE, Long John Silver's, Toyota Motor Manufacturing (with a major plant in nearby Georgetown) and United Parcel Service. In addition, Lexington is home to the national headquarters of the Council of State Governments, the National Tour Association and the Association of Retail Travel Agents.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Lexington housing is divided about half-and-half into rental units and owner-occupied homes. Some of the notable neighborhoods include the Gratz Park area, with an outstanding collection of 19th-century mansions, the Downtown area, with skyscrapers and a wall of fountains at Triangle Park and Chevy Chase, near the University of Kentucky, a center for funky bars and restaurants.
Fayette Mall, Lexington's main mall, is the largest mall in Kentucky and covers more than 1 million square feet. Joseph-Beth Booksellers is one of the largest, independent bookstores in the region. Turfland Mall was opened in 1967, and was Lexington's first mall; it still has a variety of stores, including Old Kentucky Chocolates. The Shops at Lexington Center and Victorian Square, both located in the downtown area, are connected by covered pathways and have specialty shops that sell clothing, antiques and collectibles.
Lexington is home to more than 100 working horse farms. A number of companies offers guided tours of these farms, and they are often booked far in advance.
- Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, and Wild Turkey are working distilleries. All are located fewer than 30 miles from Lexington and offer distillery tours.
- Keeneland Racetrack: Both a Thoroughbred racetrack and an auction company, Keeneland has horse races at various times during the year.
- Kentucky Horse Park: Opened in 1978, the famous park is home to approximately 115 horses representing 50 breeds. The park covers more than 1,000 acres and includes the Hall of Champions, competition facilities, horse pastures and a campground. The National Horse Center houses the headquarters of more than 30 equine associations, and the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center works to find adopters for thoroughbred horses. Man 'o War, a famous thoroughbred racehorse, is buried at the park. The park also hosts numerous events throughout the year.
- Ashland, the 18-room mansion and estate of the great Kentucky politician Henry Clay, is near Downtown Lexington.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Cheapside Park was once the site of slave auctions and abolitionists' speeches.
- Lexington Cemetery: Founded in 1849, the cemetery contains more than 60,000 graves, including many impressive monuments to famous Kentucky residents, such as Henry Clay.
- Lexington Opera House: The city's opera house was built in 1886 and restored in 1975. It features ballet and theater productions.
- Loudoun House: Built in 1850, this gothic villa resembles a castle, complete with turrets and towers. It houses the Lexington Art League, which uses it for exhibits and artists' studios.
- Mary Todd Lincoln House: Mary Todd, wife of Abraham Lincoln, was born in Lexington. Her childhood home displays family heirlooms and antiques.
- Festival of the Bluegrass: This bluegrass music festival takes place every June at Kentucky Horse Park.
- Southern Lights: This annual festival takes place at Kentucky Horse Park in the winter. It offers a three-mile drive through the park, horse-themed exhibits and an indoor petting zoo.
- Woodland Art Fair: Sponsored by the Lexington Art League, the festival is held every August in Woodland Park. Local and national artists showcase their work.
- Bluegrass Community and Technical College: The two-year college offers more than 42 technical programs, as well as pre-baccalaureate programs.
- Lexington Theological Seminary: The theological school offers post-graduate degrees in divinity and ministry. Applicants to the school are required to have a bachelor's degree.
- National College of Business and Technology: With campuses throughout Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee and Indiana, National College prepares students for careers in business.
- Spencerian College: The college has two campuses, one in Lexington and the other in Louisville. It offers programs for in-demand careers. Graduates receive a certificate, diploma or associate degree.
- Sullivan University: Students can earn a career diploma or a certificate in nine months, choosing from a full-time class schedule, evening and weekend classes or online programs. The Lexington campus is one of several.
- Transylvania University: Founded in 1780, "Transy" was the first college west of the Allegheny Mountains. Its name means "across the woods" in Latin. It is a liberal-arts college with more than 1,100 students hailing from 27 states.
- University of Kentucky: Founded in 1865, UKY is repeatedly ranked highly in national publications and aims to become one in the nation's top 20 public research universities. It has a student body of more than 27,000.
The Lexington Herald-Leader is the local newspaper. Television stations include:
- KET-Kentucky Educational Television