Louisville January 06, 2018
Some People Don’t Know That Louisville Was The First To Do These 12 Things
Many people think that the only thing that Louisville has ever done first is run the famous Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Louisville is nothing if not innovative, and it has a long history of producing some of the nation’s (and the world’s) important firsts. Here is a list of just twelve of the things that Louisville is proud to have done first.
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1. Louisville was the first city to use secret ballots during elections in the late 1800s.
Anonymity for voters greatly cut down on the frequency of fraud that was present in the voting system at the time.
2. Two Louisville sisters were the first to sing the "Happy Birthday" song.
In 1893, sisters Patty Hill, a kindergarten principal, and Mildred J. Hill, a pianist and composer, created this song as a variation of a "good morning" song that would be easy for schoolchildren to sing.
3. Louisville was the first city in Kentucky to adopt urban planning.
In a time when the population of the city was booming, committees were formed to deal with zoning and city planning to prevent the growth from getting out of control. This strategy was later adopted in many other cities as well.
4. Louisville built the first bridge made exclusively for cars to cross the Ohio River.
People may complain about being stuck in traffic on these bridges today, but if it weren’t for that first bridge, we’d all still be crossing the river in boats!
5. Louisville was home to the first licensed female steamboat master.
Her name was Mary Millicent Mille, and she was first licensed in 1884.
6. The University of Louisville basketball team is rumored to have been the first to use the "high-five."
It isn’t clear whether this claim is true, but legend has it that the high-fives exchanged by the team during a practice during their 1978-1979 season were the first high-fives in history.
7. The first Louisville Slugger baseball bat was made in Louisville in 1884.
The bat was originally called a Falls City Slugger. It wasn’t until 1894 that the name was changed to Louisville Slugger.
8. The country’s first hand transplant was done at Louisville’s Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center in 1999.
The patient, Matthew Scott, had lost his hand in a fireworks accident. A few years later, he was given the honor of pressing the button that sets off the fireworks for Thunder Over Louisville, the biggest fireworks display in the country.
9. Louisville was the first city to produce an enamel bathtub.
It was first created in 1856 and has made bath time more fun ever since.
10. A Louisville team was the first to spark a gambling scandal in Major Leagues Baseball.
The team was called the Louisville Grays and they joined the national baseball league in 1876. Their 1877 season was looking like a winning year; the team was a the top of the league... until they experienced a suspicious seven game losing streak that was later revealed to be a series of intentional losses in exchange for money. The team was forced to disband in 1878.
11. Louisville was the first place to mix an Old Fashioned.
This world-renowned cocktail was first served up by a private Pendennis Club in Louisville during the 19th century. In 2015, the city declared it the official Louisville cocktail!
12. Louisville produced the first (and so far, only) female Governor of Kentucky.
Martha Layne Collins served as Governor from 1983 to 1987. Collins was in consideration as a potential running mate for Walter Mondale during his presidential campaign in 1984, though Mondale ultimately chose Geraldine Ferraro for the position. She was also the Kentucky Derby Festival Queen in 1959!
Were you surprised by anything on this list? Which “first” do you think was most influential in Louisville history? Share your thoughts in the comments below!