Owensboro is a home rule-class city[4] in and the county seat of[5] Daviess County, Kentucky, United States. It is the fourth-most populous city in the state. Owensboro is located on U.S. Route 60 and Interstate 165 about 107 miles (172 km) southwest of Louisville, and is the principal city of the Owensboro metropolitan area. The 2020 census had its population at 60,183. The metropolitan population was estimated at 116,506.[6] The metropolitan area is the sixth largest in the state as of 2018, and the seventh largest population center in the state when including micropolitan areas.

Owensboro, Kentucky
Corner of West 3rd and St. Ann Streets in Owensboro
Corner of West 3rd and St. Ann Streets in Owensboro
Flag of Owensboro, Kentucky
Official seal of Owensboro, Kentucky
BBQ Capital of the World
"Progress 1817"
Location of Owensboro in Daviess County, Kentucky.
Location of Owensboro in Daviess County, Kentucky.
Owensboro is located in Kentucky
Owensboro is located in the United States
Coordinates: 37°45′28″N 87°7′6″W / 37.75778°N 87.11833°W / 37.75778; -87.11833
CountryUnited States
Settled (as Yellow Banks)1797
Established (as Owensborough)1817[1]
 • MayorTom Watson
 • Mayor Pro TemMark Castlen
 • City ManagerNate Pagan
 • City22.10 sq mi (57.24 km2)
 • Land20.65 sq mi (53.49 km2)
 • Water1.45 sq mi (3.76 km2)  6.47%
394 ft (120 m)
 • City60,183
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,914.15/sq mi (1,125.16/km2)
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)270 & 364
FIPS code21-58620
GNIS feature ID0500082

History edit

Evidence of Native American settlement in the area dates back 12,000 years. Following a series of failed uprisings with British support, however, the last Shawnee were forced to vacate the area before the end of the 18th century.

The first European descendant to settle in Owensboro was frontiersman William Smeathers or Smothers in 1797, for whom the riverfront park is named. The settlement was originally known as "Yellow Banks" from the color of the land beside the Ohio River. In 1817, Yellow Banks was formally established under the name Owensborough, named after Col. Abraham Owen. In 1893, the spelling of the name was shortened to its current Owensboro.[7]

Several distillers, mainly of bourbon whiskey, have been in and around the city of Owensboro. The major distillery still in operation is the Glenmore Distillery Company, now owned by the Sazerac Company. The other distillery, Green River Distilling Company, started in 1885 and is also Owensboro based. It is still in operation today.

On August 14, 1936, downtown Owensboro was the site of the last public hanging in the United States. A 26 year old African American man, Rainey Bethea, was convicted and sentenced for the rape and murder of 70-year-old Lischa Edwards in a very short time (only 37 days lapsed between the crime and the execution). A carnival atmosphere was in place with vendors selling hotdogs, attended by a large crowd including children and many reporters.[8] The execution was presided over by a female sheriff, Florence Shoemaker Thompson, who gained national media attention for her role in the process, although she declined to spring the trap.[clarification needed] Before Bethea was dead, the crowd had already begun to tear at his clothes and even his body for souvenirs. The Kentucky General Assembly quickly abolished public executions after the embarrassment this caused.[9]

The end of the Second World War brought civil engineering projects which helped turn Owensboro from a sleepy industrial town into a modern, expanding community by the turn of the 1960s. Many of the projects were set in motion by Johnson, Depp & Quisenberry, a firm of consulting engineers then engaged in a runway redesign at the County Airport; the "Depp" in question was a member of an old and prominent Kentucky family which includes the town's most famous son, actor Johnny Depp.

Manufacturing edit

Dudley Morton Memorial at the American Legion Hall

As of 1903, Owensboro was home to several stemmeries.[10] Pinkerton Tobacco produced Red Man (now America's Best Chew) chewing tobacco in Owensboro. Swedish Match continues to make America's Best Chew in a plant outside city limits.[11]

The Owensboro Wagon Company, established in 1884, was one of the largest and most influential wagon companies in the nation. With eight styles or sizes of wagons, the company set the standard of quality at the turn of the 20th century.

Frederick A. Ames came to Owensboro from Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1887. He started the Carriage Woodstock Company to repair horse-drawn carriages. In 1910, he began to manufacture a line of automobiles under the Ames brand name. Ames hired industrialist Vincent Bendix in 1912, and the company became the Ames Motor Car Company. Despite its product being called the "best $1500" car by a Texas car dealer, the company ceased production of its own model in 1915. The company then began manufacturing replacement bodies for the more widely sold Ford Model T. In 1922, the company remade itself and started to manufacture furniture under the name Ames Corporation. The company finally sold out to Whitehall Furniture in 1970.[12]

The start of the Kentucky Electrical Lamp Company, a light bulb manufacturing company was in 1899; it eventually was acquired by Kentucky Radio Company (Ken-Rad) in 1918 and later acquired by General Electric in 1945 and in 1987 acquired by MPD, Inc.,[13] created the light bulbs that illuminated the first night game in the history of Major League Baseball on May 24, 1935, between the Reds and Phillies at Cincinnati's Crosley Field.[14] The Owensboro plant was a major part of General Electric's vacuum tube manufacturing operations, producing both receiving types and military/industrial ceramic types. In 1961, engineers at the General Electric plant in Owensboro introduced a family of vacuum tubes called the Compactron.

In June 1932, John G. Barnard founded the Modern Welding Company in a small building located near the Ohio River at First and Frederica Streets where the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum sits today. Today, Modern Welding Company has nine steel tank and vessel fabrication subsidiaries located throughout the United States, and five welding supply stores located in Kentucky and Indiana. The company is the country's largest supplier of underground and above ground steel storage tanks for flammable and combustible liquids. The company celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2007.[15]

Texas Gas Transmission Corporation was created in 1948 with the merger of Memphis Natural Gas Company and Kentucky Natural Gas Corporation and made its headquarters in Owensboro. Since that time, Texas Gas changed ownership four times. The company was bought by CSX Corp. in 1983, by Transco Energy Corp. in 1989, by Williams in 1995, and by Loews Corporation in 2003.[16]

Geography edit

Military memorial on the riverfront

Owensboro is located at the crook of a bend in the Ohio River, 37 miles (60 km) southeast of Evansville, Indiana.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Owensboro has a total area of 20.4 square miles (52.9 km2), of which 19.1 square miles (49.5 km2) is land and 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2), or 6.47%, is water.[17]

Climate edit

Owensboro has a humid subtropical climate which is characterized by hot, humid summers and moderately cold winters. Day-to-day temperature differences can be high during the winter. Summers, in comparison, are much more stable. Severe weather, including the threat of tornadoes, is not uncommon throughout much of the year, with several notable events occurring throughout the city's history. One such event occurred on December 9, 1952, when F3 tornado tore directly through the city, injuring three people.[18]

Climate data for Owensboro, Kentucky (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1896–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 76
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 45.7
Daily mean °F (°C) 36.0
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 26.2
Record low °F (°C) −23
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.41
Average snowfall inches (cm) 2.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 8.4 9.5 10.7 9.8 11.0 8.6 7.9 6.9 7.6 7.9 9.4 9.9 107.6
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 1.1 1.1 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.7 3.5
Source: NOAA[19][20]

Demographics edit

Historical population
2022 (est.)60,037[21]−0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[22]

As of the census of 2010, there were 58,083 people and 23,380 households within the city. The population density was 2,999.1 people per square mile (1,158.0 people/km2). There were 26,072 housing units at an average density of 1,394.7 per square mile (538.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 87.5% White, 7.3% African American, 0.9% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.55% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.2% of the population.

There were 23,380 households, out of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.7% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.7% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,289, and the median income for a family was $41,333. Males had a median income of $33,429 versus $21,457 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,183. About 12.2% of families and 18.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.9% of those under age 18 and 12.4% of those age 65 or over.

Metropolitan area edit

According to the 2007 census, the Owensboro Metropolitan Area includes Daviess, Hancock, and McLean counties.

Economy edit

Top employers edit

According to Owensboro's 2021 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[23] the top employers in the city were:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Owensboro Health 4,274
2 U.S. Bank Home Mortgage 1,499
3 Owensboro Public Schools 833
4 Toyotetsu Mid-America 682
5 Sazerac Distilleries 543
6 Specialty Foods Group 513
7 Mizkan America Inc. 451
8 City of Owensboro 434
9 UniFirst 405
10 Metalsa Structural Products, Inc. 396

Arts and culture edit

Owensboro was named an All-America City in 2013.[24] Owensboro placed fourth on Area Development's Top 20 Southern Cities, with a 9th-place ranking for its "recession busting factors" among the Top 25 Small Cities.[25]

Religion edit

In 1937, Pope Pius XI established the Roman Catholic Diocese of Owensboro, which spans approximately the western third of the state. It includes 32 counties and covers approximately 12,500 square miles (32,000 km2).[26] Though the area has been considered by many to be predominately Catholic, evangelical denominations such as Southern Baptists have increased dramatically over the past several decades. The Kentucky Baptist Convention has many churches in the area. Owensboro is also home to Temple Adath Israel, which is among the oldest synagogues in the United States.

Owensboro is also the location of Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary's campus.

Music edit

Owensboro is home to the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum (Previously known as the International Bluegrass Music Museum[27]). The museum is dedicated to the history and preservation of Bluegrass music, as well as hosting the Bluegrass Hall of Fame to celebrate the best of Bluegrass musicians. The venue also hosts many music events throughout the year.[28]

The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum won the Governor's Award for Community Arts in 2013[29][30]

Events edit

Owensboro BBQ Festival, 2008
  • Owensboro is the "Barbecue Capital of the world"; it holds its International Bar-B-Q Festival and competition every second weekend in May.[31]
  • Owensboro hosts "ROMP", "River of Music Party", a bluegrass music festival.[32] ROMP has grown to 25,000 visitors a year.[33]
  • Lanham Brothers Jamboree is an event held every second Saturday from April through September at the Diamond Lake Resort Theater in Owensboro.[34]
  • During the summer, the city offers "Friday After 5", a free 16-week series of outdoor concerts on the downtown riverfront, which resumed after a pandemic break.[35][36]
  • The "Owensboro PumpkinFest" is held each September at the Sportscenter/Moreland Park complex. The festival includes food vendors, crafts people, carnival rides, children and adult activities and games, and contests using pumpkins.[37] The event was started by the Glenmary Sisters to raise awareness and funds.[38]
  • Owensboro Multicultural Festival is held each year to celebrate diversity.[39]

Points of interest edit

Sports edit

The Owensboro Oilers baseball team compete in the collegiate wood-bat Ohio Valley League. The Oilers were the KIT League's 2008 playoff champions and the 2006 KIT League season champions. The team is named for the baseball minor league farm team "Owensboro Oilers" which existed in the 1940s.[citation needed] Many of the city high schools produced talented college and professional athletes.

Government edit

Daviess County Courthouse constructed in 1964

Owensboro has operated under a City Manager form of government since 1954. Citizens elect a mayor and four city commissioners who form the Board of Commissioners. The Board of Commissioners is the legislative body of the city government and represents the interests of the citizens. The Board of Commissioners hires a city manager who administers the day-to-day operations of the city.

The mayor is elected for a term of four years. Each city commissioner is elected for a term of two years. The term of the city manager is indefinite and based on performance.

Education edit

The Owensboro Public Schools, Daviess County Public Schools, and the Diocese of Owensboro's Catholic School System oversee K-12 education in and around Owensboro.

Owensboro is home to two private, four-year colleges, Brescia University (Catholic) and Kentucky Wesleyan College, and one public community college, Owensboro Community and Technical College. A campus of Daymar College is also located in Owensboro, and Western Kentucky University has a regional campus there.

In 2006, plans were announced for a research center operated by the University of Louisville to be located at the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center, a part of the Owensboro Medical Health System, to study how to make the first ever human papilloma virus vaccine, called Gardasil, from tobacco plants. U of L researcher Dr Albert Bennet Jenson and Dr Shin-je Ghim discovered the vaccine in 2006. If successful, the vaccine would be made in Owensboro.[42]

Owensboro has a lending library, the Daviess County Public Library.[43]

Media edit

Print and online edit

The daily newspaper is the Messenger-Inquirer, owned by Paxton Media Group of Paducah, Kentucky.[44]

The Owensboro Times is a local online news site.[45]

Radio edit

Radio stations include WBIO, WXCM, WLME, WOMI, WVJS and WBKR broadcasting from Owensboro. One, WSTO-FM, is actually licensed to Owensboro, although its studios are now located in Evansville.

Television edit

Although no television stations are based in the city, it is part of the Evansville television market, which is the 100th-largest in the United States, according to Nielsen Media Research.[46] However, in early 2007, NBC affiliate WFIE-TV opened a bureau in Owensboro which covers news on the Kentucky side of the market. Many of the local television stations often promote themselves as serving Evansville, Indiana, Owensboro, Kentucky, and Henderson, Kentucky.

Infrastructure edit

Owensboro Bridge and the Indiana riverbank as seen from Smothers Park in downtown Owensboro

Transportation edit

I-165, US 60, and US 431 serve Owensboro, with US 431 terminating at the former US 60 Bypass (now signed US 60). US 231 and US 60 form a partial beltway around Owensboro. KY 81, KY 56, KY 331, KY 298, KY 54, and KY 144 also serve the city.

Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport serves, along with Evansville Regional Airport, as one of the region's primary commercial airports.

The Owensboro Transit System (OTS) offers bus transit to residents, and the Green River Intra-County Transit System (GRITS) offers specialized bus services to residents with disabilities who are not able to ride fixed-route public transportation buses.

Notable people edit

Politicians edit

Sports edit

Entertainers edit

Authors and journalists edit

Others edit

Sister cities edit

Owensboro has two sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:[47]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Commonwealth of Kentucky. Office of the Secretary of State. Land Office. "Owensboro, Kentucky". Accessed 18 September 2013.
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  3. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Kentucky: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  4. ^ "Summary and Reference Guide to House Bill 331 City Classification Reform" (PDF). Kentucky League of Cities. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014 – United States – Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area (GCT-PEPANNRES)". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  7. ^ "Owensboro-Daviess County History".
  8. ^ "After 75 years, last public hanging haunts Kentucky city (photos)". New Haven Register. August 11, 2011.
  9. ^ "Lynchings & Hangings". Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  10. ^ Andrew B. Ludwig; WM. Young (1903). Biennial Report of the Labor Inspector of the State of Kentucky. Geo. G. Fetter.
  11. ^ "Swedish Match – Swedish Match Owensboro Factory". www.swedishmatch.com. September 19, 2011.
  12. ^ "F.A. Ames Company, 1911–1941; Ames Body Corporation, 1915–1922; Owensboro, Kentucky". www.coachbuilt.com.
  13. ^ Leonard Rex, "The seizure of the Ken-Rad Plant-1944". Daviess County Historical Quarterly, April 1984, pp 27–31
  14. ^ Suzi Bartholomy, "Thackers mark anniversary of landmark baseball game", Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky. Wednesday, May 26, 2010
  15. ^ "Modern Welding Company | About Us". Modweldco.com. December 7, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  16. ^ "Texas Gas – History". Txgt.com. November 15, 2005. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  17. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Owensboro city, Kentucky". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved October 27, 2015.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Kentucky Event Report: F3 Tornado". National Centers for Environmental Information. National Weather Service. Retrieved May 23, 2022."Kentucky Event Report: F3 Tornado". National Centers for Environmental Information. National Weather Service. Retrieved May 23, 2022."Indiana Event Report: F3 Tornado". National Centers for Environmental Information. National Weather Service. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  19. ^ "Station: Owensboro, KY". U.S. Monthly Climate Normals (1981-2010). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  20. ^ "Monthly Highest Max Temperature and Monthly Lowest Min Temperature for Owensboro 1 W, KY". Applied Climate Information System. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  21. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Kentucky: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  22. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  23. ^ "City of Owensboro CAFR" (PDF). December 7, 2021.
  24. ^ "allamericacityaward.com". Archived from the original on June 25, 2013.
  25. ^ "Owensboro.org". Archived from the original on January 28, 2010.
  26. ^ Inc., Red Pixel Studios. "Diocese of Owensboro". Diocese of Owensboro. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  27. ^ "Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum Oral History Project". kentuckyoralhistory.org. Retrieved February 25, 2024.
  28. ^ "Home - Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum". Retrieved February 25, 2024.
  29. ^ "KY: Kentucky Arts Council - Governor's Awards in the Arts: Past Recipients". artscouncil.ky.gov. Retrieved February 25, 2024.
  30. ^ 2013 Governor's Awards in the Arts recipient International Bluegrass Music Museum, retrieved February 25, 2024
  31. ^ Cissell, Brian; Onyett, Travis (May 12, 2023). "BBQ and Barrels Festival kicks off in Owensboro". www.14news.com. Retrieved August 12, 2023.
  32. ^ "Home". ROMP Fest 2018 - June 27–30, 2018.
  33. ^ "ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival". Visit Owensboro, KY. Retrieved February 25, 2024.
  34. ^ "Lanham Brothers Jamboree – Fun, Family, Entertainment".
  35. ^ "Friday After 5". Downtown Owensboro, Inc. Retrieved July 3, 2007.
  36. ^ Birgy, Barb (March 6, 2023). "Friday After 5 Announces Epic 2023 Lineup". WBKR. Retrieved August 12, 2023.
  37. ^ "Owensboro PumpkinFest". Retrieved July 3, 2007.
  38. ^ "Glenmary Sisters". Glenmary Home Mission Sisters of America. Retrieved July 3, 2007.
  39. ^ Kelly, Josh (August 14, 2022). "Multicultural Festival returns Saturday with theme of 'We're better together'". The Owensboro Times. Retrieved June 16, 2023.
  40. ^ "Owensboro's Sassafras Tree". visitowensboro.com. Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  41. ^ Mark W. Gordon, "Rediscovering Jewish Infrastructure: Update on United States Nineteenth Century Synagogues", American Jewish History 84.1 (1996) 11–27. 2019 article update.
  42. ^ "Two at UofL help invent vaccine – Courier Journal".
  43. ^ "Kentucky Public Library Directory". Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Archived from the original on January 11, 2019. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  44. ^ "Messenger-Inquirer Website". Messenger-Inquirer. Retrieved July 3, 2007.
  45. ^ "About The Owensboro Times". The Owensboro Times. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  46. ^ "Nielsen Media Research Local Universe Estimates" (PDF). Audience Research & Development. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 4, 2007. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
  47. ^ "Online directory: Kentucky, USA". Sister Cities International. Archived from the original on October 2, 2006. Retrieved June 11, 2007.

External links edit