Louisville: Like No Place Else
St. James Court and Its Art Show
Surely the best-known section of Old Louisville is St. James Court, a four-block oval of stately mansions surrounding a grassy mall and ornate central fountain, crossed by the equally impressive Belgravia Court. A haven for Louisville's fin-de-siecle upper class, its founding deed restrictions ensured that all houses on the Court were constructed of either brick or stone; residents established one of the first homeowners' associations in the nation.
By the middle of the 20th century, though, like the rest of Old Louisville, St. James Court had fallen on hard times. Faced with an empty treasury and bills for repairing the beloved fountain, its residents decided to hold an art show to raise money. It had modest enough beginnings: "Pictures were hung on a clothesline extending from tree to tree," wrote Marguerite Gifford in her 1966 history, St. James Court in Retrospect.
The St. James Court Art Show is the Little Art Show That Grew. Held annually since 1957 on the first weekend in October, it has become a juried event with nearly 750 exhibitors and more than 300,000 attendees and has regularly won accolades as one of the best outdoor art shows in the nation.
Louisville Slugger Museum
Almost as long as there has been baseball, there have been Louisville Slugger bats. Hillerich & Bradsby, the family-owned company that makes the bats, has been in business in the Louisville area since 1884. The Louisville Slugger is now designated the official bat of Major League Baseball.
The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, one of the city's most popular attractions, is also housed with the company's corporate headquarters at the corner of Ninth and Main streets. It's hard to miss, as "the World's Biggest Baseball Bat" leans against the side of the building. Tours cover both an extensive baseball museum and the bat factory.
Thanks to a welcoming collection of international refugee agencies, Louisville boasts surprising ethnic diversity. More than 80 languages are spoken in the city's schools, and 50 percent of recent population growth comes from people born outside the United States. To honor the community's cultures and nationalities, the annual WorldFest celebration takes place in the Riverfront Plaza and Belvedere downtown park at Fifth and Main streets on the last Friday and Saturday in August. Worldfest features international performances ranging from Latino and Celtic rock to reggae, flamenco, Indian and Chinese dance. More than 30 food vendors represent Louisville's ethnic restaurants from all over the globe.
Louisville has become a center for art glass. Glassworks, a renovated industrial building on the western side of downtown Louisville at Ninth and Market streets, is dedicated to the art of glass, its magic, mystery and beauty. Glassworks includes three working glass studios, two art-glass galleries, a walk-in workshop and daily tours. The hourlong tour includes visits to Architectural Glass Art, a glass studio that was founded in 1875 and remains one of the oldest stained-glass art studios in continuous operation in the United States, and Glassworks' founding studio. Transformed by Light, a short video, highlights the history and origins of glass art and the studio movement. Tourists may watch artists sculpt with glass using an oxygen-and-propane torch.