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Although today Louisville is largely associated with the Kentucky Derby and baseball, its history extends as far back as the late 1600s when the first Europeans were led here as a result of their explorations of the Gulf of Mexico. Colonel George Rogers Clark first settled in this area in 1778 with over 200 people from Pennsylvania. The city became named Louisville in honor of the French king Louis XVI who was, at the time, helping the Revolutionary War effort.
The early history of Louisville is marked by Indian attacks and the Revolutionary War. These two circumstances forced the settlers to establish and live in forts for security. In the early 1900s the city experienced significant growth and advancement. As a result, the use of boats for commerce and transportation became easier and more prevalent.
May 17, 1875 was the beginning of a very long Kentucky Derby tradition. The world-famous horse racing event was held in the Louisville Jockey Club, today known as Churchill Downs. And less than a year later, on February 2, 1876 the Louisville Grays became part of the Professional Baseball.
Louisville experienced an economic decline in the 1960s causing many historic centers, downtown buildings, and city attractions to close. The 1980s, however, began an era of revival that continues today and is manifested by the largely improved infrastructure and architecture as well as by an increase in cultural and tourist activities.