For Statehood Day, We Asked The Age-Old Question: Louisville Or Kentucky?

Jun 1, 2016

Today is Kentucky’s Statehood Day. It was on June 1, 1792, that Kentucky officially became the 15th state to join the United States of America.

The past 224 years have been full of momentous occasions for the commonwealth — industrialization, wars and the resurgence of bourbon’s popularity.

But here in Louisville, many residents seem to have a complicated relationship with Kentucky. The state’s largest city often differs politically from the Republican-leaning rest of the state, and many Louisvillians identify culturally with the city rather than the state as a whole.

So, in honor of Statehood Day, we decided to ask a few Louisvillians on East Market Street a simple question: Do you consider yourself more a Louisvillian or a Kentuckian?

Greg Ellis

“I guess a Louisvillian because I’ve only lived in Louisville, but Louisville’s part of Kentucky and Kentucky’s pretty badass,” Ellis said. “I think if you’re splitting hairs like that, it’s kind of exclusive in a way. But if you’re really being a Louisvillian and talking about all the great things and how accepting and loving everyone is here, then you wouldn’t make the distinction that you’re different from these other places, you know?”

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Kendra Calvert

“I usually give people the preface that ‘I’m from Louisville, Kentucky, it’s more Midwestern than Kentucky,’ partially just because of political values,” Calvert, who now lives in San Francisco, said. “If someone’s really interested, I give more of a historical background that starts with, you know, the Civil War … but usually I say, definitely from Louisville.”

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Brian Hagest

“When I lived overseas, I always said I was from Louisville first, I guess, rather than Kentucky,” Hagest said. “Maybe that’s not because of negative thoughts of the rest of the state, I just feel like I identify more with this specific area than the rest of the state.”

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J Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

A display at Revelry Boutique Gallery in NuLu pretty much hits the nail on the head.

Mia Snell

“To me, (Louisville and Kentucky are) two separate places,” Snell said. “But I think that’s true of any city and every city that I’ve lived in, it’s historically been correct. I would say Detroit and Michigan are two different places, just like St. Louis and Missouri are two different places.”

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Eliot Zellers

“I’d say Kentuckian, yeah,” Zellers said. “There’s a lot in our state to be proud of, not just being a Louisvillian. I think there’s a mindset in this city that we’re separate from, but I think that’s kind of a toxic mindset, and we need to kind of embrace everybody in the state. I like Kentucky history, and we’ve got a lot of good people in all parts of the state.”

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Molly Huffman

“When I was moving here, my friends were like ‘Kentucky? What’s in Kentucky? Kentucky, isn’t that like Kansas, Tennessee, what’s over there? It’s Kentucky,'” said Huffman, who moved here a few years ago from Arizona. “And then when I’d say Louisville they were like, ‘oh, what’s that city like?’”

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And so you can show off at any of those statehood parties we know you’re attending — or, really, for use at any party — here are five lesser-known facts about our commonwealth: