Bowling Green, Kentucky facts for kids

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Bowling Green, Kentucky
City
Shops along Fountain Square in downtown Bowling Green
Shops along Fountain Square in downtown Bowling Green
Location of Bowling Green within Warren County in Kentucky.
Location of Bowling Green within Warren County in Kentucky.
Country United States
State Kentucky
County Warren
Area
 • City 35.6 sq mi (92.1 km2)
 • Land 35.4 sq mi (91.7 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.4 km2)
Elevation 547 ft (166.7 m)
Population (2015)
 • City 63,616
 • Density 1,536.9/sq mi (537.5/km2)
 • Metro 165,732
Time zone CST (UTC−6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
ZIP codes 42101-42104
Area code(s) 270 & 364
FIPS code 21-08902
GNIS feature ID 0487744
Website www.bgky.org
ReservoirHill
The B.G.M.U. Water Tower atop Reservoir Hill is a local landmark visible from many parts of Bowling Green.
Warren County Justice Center
The Warren County Justice Center is the center of the local court system.

Bowling Green is a home rule-class city in and the county seat of Warren County, Kentucky, United States. As of 2015, its population of 63,616 made it the third most-populous city in the state after Louisville and Lexington; its metropolitan area had an estimated population of 165,732; and the combined statistical area it shares with Glasgow has an estimated population of 218,870.

Founded by pioneers in 1798, Bowling Green was the provisional capital of Confederate Kentucky during the American Civil War. The city was the inspiration for the 1967 Everly Brothers song "Bowling Green". It is the home of numerous manufacturers, including General Motors and Fruit of the Loom. The Bowling Green Assembly Plant has been the source of all Chevrolet Corvettes built since 1981. Bowling Green is also home to the state's second-largest public university, Western Kentucky University. In 2014, Forbes magazine listed Bowling Green as one of the Top 25 Best Places to Retire in the United States.

History

Settlement and incorporation

The first Europeans known to have reached the area carved their names on beech trees near the river around 1775. By 1778, settlers established McFadden's Station on the north bank of the Barren River.

Present-day Bowling Green grew out of homesteads erected by Robert and George Moore and General Elijah Covington, the namesake of the town near Cincinnati. surrounding the original plot. The city of Bowling Green was officially incorporated by the Commonwealth of Kentucky on March 6, 1798.

Some controversy exists over the source of the town's name. The city itself follows the first county commissioners' meeting (1798), which named the town "Bolin Green" after the Bowling Green in New York City where patriots had pulled down a statue of King George III and used the lead to make bullets during the American Revolution. Some historians dispute this, however, and credit Bowling Green, Virginia, or a personal "ball alley game" of Robert Moore's instead. Early records indicate that the city name was also spelled "Bowlingreen".

Nineteenth century

By 1810, Bowling Green had 154 residents. Growth in steamboat commerce and the proximity of the Barren River increased Bowling Green's importance. Canal locks and dams on the Barren River made it much more navigable. In 1832, the first portage railway connected the river to the location of the current county courthouse. Mules pulled freight and passengers to and from the city on the tracks.

Despite rapid urbanization of the Bowling Green area in the 1830s, agriculture remained an important part of local life. A visitor to Bowling Green noted the boasting of a tavern proprietor named Benjamin Vance:

[Vance] says that he has seen a turnip this fall that measures thirty-two inches around, and has a beet that weighs sixteen pounds and a half;... that corn in this country grows so fast that if you look at it the next, it has grown a foot higher; that the "little hickory twigs" growing in the barrens have roots as large as his legs...

In 1859, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (currently CSX Transportation) laid railroad through Bowling Green that connected the city with northern and southern markets.

Bowling Green declared itself neutral in an attempt to escape the Civil War. Because of its prime location and resources, however, both the Union and Confederacy sought control of the city. The majority of its residents rejected both the Confederacy and the Lincoln administration. On September 18, 1861, around 1300 Confederate soldiers arrived from Tennessee to occupy the city, placed under command of Kentucky native General Simon Bolivar Buckner. The city's pro-Union feelings surprised the Confederate occupiers. Surrounding hills were fortified to secure possible military approaches to the valuable river and railroad assets. In November 1861, the provisional Confederate government of Kentucky chose Bowling Green as its capital.

On February 14, 1862, after receiving reports that Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River had both been captured by Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant, the Confederates realized they had to withdraw from Bowling Green. They destroyed bridges across the Barren River, the railroad depot, and other important buildings that could be used by the enemy. The city was subject to disruptions and raids throughout the remainder of the war. During the summer of 1864, Union General Stephen G. Burbridge arrested 22 civilians in and around Bowling Green on a charge of treason. This incident and other harsh treatment by federal authorities led to bitterness towards the Union among Bowling Green residents and increased sympathies with the Confederacy.

After the Civil War, Bowling Green's business district grew considerably. Previously, agriculture had dominated the city's economy. During the 1870s, many of the historic business structures seen today were erected. One of the most important businesses in Bowling Green of this era was Carie Burnam Taylor's dress-making company. By 1906, Taylor employed more than 200 women.

In 1868, the city constructed its first waterworks system. The fourth county courthouse was completed in 1868. The first three were completed in 1798, 1805, and 1813. In 1889, the first mule-drawn street cars appeared in the city. The first electric street cars began to replace them by 1895.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth founded St. Columbia's Academy in 1862, succeeded by St. Joseph's School in 1911. In 1884, the Southern Normal School, which had been founded in 1875, moved to Bowling Green from the town of Glasgow, Kentucky. Pleasant J. Potter founded a women's college in Bowling Green in 1889. It closed in 1909 and its property sold to the Western Kentucky State Normal School (see below, now known as Western Kentucky University). Other important schools in this era were Methodist Warren College, Ogden College (which also became a part of Western Kentucky University), and Green River Female College, a boarding school.

Twentieth century

In 1906, Henry Hardin Cherry, the president and owner of Southern Normal School, donated the school to the state as the basis of the Western State Normal School. The school trained teachers for the expanding educational needs of the state. This institution is now known as Western Kentucky University and is the second-largest public university in the state, having recently grown larger than the University of Louisville.

In 1906, Doctors Lillian H. South, J. N. McCormack, and A.T. McCormack opened St. Joseph Hospital to provide around-the-clock medical and nursing care to the residents and students in the area.

In 1925, the Kentucky Street Rail Depot was opened. About 27 trains arrived daily at the depot. Local bus lines were also a popular form of travel. By the 1950s, both of these forms of transportation had dramatically declined as highway construction was subsidized by the federal government and the private car became the primary means of travel.

In 1940, a Union Underwear factory built in Bowling Green bolstered the city's economy significantly. During the 1960s, the city's population began to surpass that of Ashland, Paducah, and Newport.

Downtown streets became a bottleneck for traffic. In 1949, the U.S. Route 31W Bypass was opened to alleviate traffic problems, but it also drew off business from downtown. The bypass grew to become a business hotspot in Bowling Green. A 1954 advertisement exclaimed, "Your business can grow in the direction Bowling Green is growing – to the 31-W By-Pass".

By the 1960s, the face of shopping was changing completely from the downtown square to suburban shopping centers. Between May and November 1967, stores in Bowling Green Mall opened for business. Another advertisement said, "One-stop shopping. Just park [free], step out and shop. You'll find everything close at hand." Between September 1979 and September 1980, stores in the larger Greenwood Mall came on line. The city's limits began to stretch toward Interstate 65.

By the late 1960s, Interstate 65, which runs just to the east of Bowling Green, was completed. The Green River Parkway (now called the William H. Natcher Parkway), was completed in the 1970s to connect Bowling Green and Owensboro. These vital transportation arteries attracted many industries to Bowling Green.

In 1981, General Motors moved its Chevrolet Corvette assembly plant from St. Louis, Missouri, to Bowling Green. In the same year, the National Corvette Homecoming event was created, becoming a large gathering of Corvette owners, car parades, and related activities in Bowling Green each year. In 1994, the National Corvette Museum was constructed near the assembly plant.

In 1997, Bowling Green was designated a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Twenty-first century initiatives

BGChamber
The new Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce building was one of the first parts of the Downtown Redevelopment Project to reach completion.

In 2012, the city undertook a feasibility study on ways to revitalize the downtown Bowling Green area. The Downtown Redevelopment Authority was formed to plan redevelopment. Plans for the project incorporated Bowling Green's waterfront assets and historic center and streetscape around Fountain Square. It also proposed a new building for the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, construction of a Riverwalk Park where downtown borders the Barren River, creation of a new public park called Circus Square, and installation of a new retail area, the Fountain Square Market.

As of spring 2009, the new Chamber of Commerce, Riverwalk Park, and Circus Square have been completed. The Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, a facility for arts and education, broke ground in October 2009 and celebrated its opening night on March 10, 2012, with a concert by Vince Gill. Ground was broken for the Fountain Square Market in 2012.

In 2005, an effort was made to incorporate a Whitewater Park into the downtown Bowling Green riverfront at Weldon Peete Park. Due to the recession, the project was not funded. In 2011, the project evolved into the Bowling Green Riverfront Foundation, expanding its efforts to develop land on the opposite side of Barren River from Mitch McConnell Park (which is located alongside the U.S. 31-W Bypass and the riverbank, between Louisville Road and Old Louisville Road), all the way upriver to Peete Park. The new plans include use of the adjacent river for white-water sports—the stretch of river includes rapids rated on the International Scale of River Difficulty between Class II and Class IV—as well as a mountain biking trail, a bicycle pump track, and a rock climbing area. Some of this facility will be located on a reclaimed landfill which had served as Bowling Green's garbage dump for many years.

Geography

The Bowling Green-Warren County Regional Airport is 547 feet (167 m) above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.6 square miles (92 km2), of which 35.4 square miles (92 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (0.45%) is covered by water.

Climate

Bowling Green has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 35.7 °F (2.1 °C) in January to 78.7 °F (25.9 °C) in July. On average, 41 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs occur annually, and 11 days occur each winter when the high fails to rise above freezing. Annual precipitation is 49.3 inches (1,250 mm), with the late spring and summer being slightly wetter; snowfall averages 8.4 inches (21.3 cm) per year. Extreme temperatures range from −21 °F (−29 °C) on January 23 and 24, 1963, up to 108 °F (42 °C) on July 28, 1930.

Climate data for Bowling Green, Kentucky (Warren County Airport), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
(25.6)
82
(27.8)
92
(33.3)
96
(35.6)
100
(37.8)
110
(43.3)
113
(45)
110
(43.3)
105
(40.6)
94
(34.4)
88
(31.1)
78
(25.6)
113
(45)
Average high °F (°C) 45.0
(7.22)
50.0
(10)
59.8
(15.44)
69.7
(20.94)
77.8
(25.44)
86.1
(30.06)
89.4
(31.89)
88.9
(31.61)
82.1
(27.83)
71.2
(21.78)
59.4
(15.22)
47.9
(8.83)
68.9
(20.5)
Average low °F (°C) 26.4
(-3.11)
29.6
(-1.33)
37.0
(2.78)
45.6
(7.56)
55.0
(12.78)
63.9
(17.72)
67.9
(19.94)
66.1
(18.94)
58.0
(14.44)
46.3
(7.94)
37.5
(3.06)
29.2
(-1.56)
46.9
(8.28)
Record low °F (°C) −21
(-29.4)
−20
(-28.9)
−6
(-21.1)
19
(-7.2)
30
(-1.1)
39
(3.9)
46
(7.8)
42
(5.6)
33
(0.6)
19
(-7.2)
−7
(-21.7)
−14
(-25.6)
−21
(-29.4)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.58
(90.9)
4.00
(101.6)
3.88
(98.6)
4.33
(110)
5.67
(144)
4.09
(103.9)
4.17
(105.9)
3.38
(85.9)
3.80
(96.5)
3.44
(87.4)
4.18
(106.2)
4.80
(121.9)
49.33
(1,253)
Snowfall inches (cm) 2.5
(6.4)
3.4
(8.6)
1.1
(2.8)
0.1
(0.3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.3
(3.3)
8.4
(21.3)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.4 10.5 11.4 11.7 11.8 10.6 10.0 7.9 7.9 8.5 9.9 11.5 121.9
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 2.1 2.3 0.7 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.3 6.5
Source: NOAA (extremes 1893–present)

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1800 41
1810 154 275.6%
1830 821
1870 4,574
1880 5,114 11.8%
1890 7,803 52.6%
1900 8,226 5.4%
1910 9,173 11.5%
1920 9,638 5.1%
1930 12,348 28.1%
1940 14,585 18.1%
1950 18,347 25.8%
1960 28,338 54.5%
1970 36,705 29.5%
1980 40,450 10.2%
1990 40,641 0.5%
2000 49,296 21.3%
2010 58,067 17.8%
Est. 2015 63,616 29.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, 58,067 people and 22,735 households resided in the city. The population density was 1631.1 people per square mile (630.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.8% White, 13.9% African American, 0.3% Native American, 4.2% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 2.16% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 6.5% of the population.

Of the 22,735 households, 24.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.1% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.3% were not families. About 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28, and the average family size was 2.99.

The age distribution was 20.1% under 18, 28% from 15 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.6% who were 65 or older. The median age was 27.6 years. Females made up 51.7% of the population and males made up 48.3%.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,362, and for families was $45,287. Males had a median income of $35,000 versus $28,916 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,302. About 19.4% of families and 27.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.9% of those under age 18.

Arts and culture

Museums

KYMuseum
The Kentucky Museum is located on the campus of Western Kentucky University.
  • Barren River Imaginative Museum of Science – Unique "hands-on" science museum where visitors can experience the force of a mini-tornado, operate one of the largest interactive transportation exhibits in the country, suspend a body with magic mirrors, and more. Closed SEP 2011
  • Kentucky Museum and Library – Home of rich collections and education exhibits on Kentucky history and heritage. Genealogical materials, published works, manuscripts and folk life information.
  • National Corvette Museum – Showcase of America's sports car with more than 75 Corvettes on display, including mint classics, one-of-a-kind prototypes, racetrack champions and more.
  • Historic Railpark and Train Museum – L & N Depot – Train museum in the original train depot of Bowling Green. Opened after the library moved at the end of 2007. Includes 5 restored historic rail cars.
  • Riverview at Hobson Grove – This historic house museum is a classic example of Italianate architecture—arched windows, deep eaves with ornamental brackets, and cupola. Painted ceilings. Began late 1850s, Confederate munitions magazine in winter 1861–62, and completed 1872.

Sports and event venues

E.A. Diddle Arena, located on the campus of Western Kentucky University, is a multi-purpose arena with a seating capacity of 7,500 persons. Built in 1963 and renovated in 2004, the arena has hosted college sports such as basketball and volleyball. It also hosted the KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen state championship event in high school basketball from 2001 to 2015, after which it moved to BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University. The arena has also played host to various traveling rodeos and circuses. In 2006, Diddle Arena hosted the first WWE event to be held in Bowling Green in over ten years.

BGBallparkJune2012
Bowling Green Ballpark

The city and surrounding area is home to the Warren County Inline Hockey League. It also is home to the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers team, which competes in the NCRHA, and has several members in the Bluegrass Hockey League and Central Commonwealth League.

Bowling Green Ballpark is a new stadium currently in use in Bowling Green. It is primarily used for baseball, for the Single-A Bowling Green Hot Rods organization of the Midwest League. The Hot Rods began play in the spring of 2009 in the South Atlantic League, transferring to the Midwest League for 2010. They are a farm team for Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays.

The Bowling Green Hornets of the Central Basketball League are based in Bowling Green, although they play their home games in Russellville. The Hornets are coached by Russellville native Nathan Thompson.

Golf courses

Disc golf course Bowling Green Kentucky May 2006
Lovers Lane Park disc golf course. Bowling Green has eight such courses.

Bowling Green has six golf and eight disc golf courses.

Golf Disc golf
Crosswinds Basil Griffin Park
Paul Walker Hobson Grove Park
River View KOA Kampground
Olde Stone Lovers Lane Park
Bowling Green Country Club Preston Miller Park
Indian Hills Spero Kereiakes Park
White Park
William H. Natcher Elementary

Other attractions

HobsonGrove
Riverview Mansion at Hobson Grove Park.
Natcherfederalbldg
William H. Natcher Federal Building and United States Courthouse.
  • Bowling Green Ballpark
  • Beech Bend Park
  • General Motors Assembly Plant
  • National Corvette Homecoming
  • Capitol Arts Center
  • Cave Spring Caverns
  • Eloise B. Houchens Center
  • Historic Railpark at the L&N Depot
  • Lost River Cave and Valley
  • Riverview at Hobson Grove
  • Great American Donut Shop (GADS)
  • William H. Natcher Federal Building and United States Courthouse
  • Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center (SkyPac)
  • Low Hollow Bike Trail at Weldon Peete Park
  • Corsair Artisan Distillery
  • Civil War Discovery Trail
  • Duncan Hines Scenic Byway
  • Shake Rag Historic District
  • Warren County Quilt Trail
  • St. Joseph Historic District

Parks and recreation

The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department administers 895 acres (3.62 km2) of public land for recreational use.

Community centers

  • F. O. Moxley – Facility includes a game room (billiards, video games), board game room, concession stand, racquetball/wallyball courts and basketball courts.
  • Parker-Bennett – Facility has hourly rental rates for meetings, parties and receptions.
  • Kummer/Little Recreation Center – Facility includes basketball/volleyball courts, concession stand, and walking trails.
  • Delafield Community Center – Facility includes an auditorium, basketball courts, a playground, and picnic shelters.

Parks

See Parks in Bowling Green, Kentucky for a formatted table of this data.
  • Aviation Heritage Park – located at the corner of Three Springs Road and Smallhouse Road. The park is an ongoing project. It is designed and constructed to include a landscaped area that accommodates up to a total of seven planes.
  • 'Basil Griffin – Named for former Warren County Judge- Large pond with migratory birds such as ducks and geese, playground, disc golf, picnic tables/pavilions, soccer fields, volleyball court.
  • C. W. Lampkin – Baseball fields, outdoor basketball courts, concession stands, grills, picnic pavilions and tables, playgrounds, soccer field, tennis courts, volleyball courts
  • Chuck Crume Nature – picnic tables, walking/running trail
  • Covington Woods – golf course, baseball field, outdoor basketball court, concession stand, grills, picnic pavilions and tables, playgrounds, tennis courts, volleyball court
  • Fort Webb – historic site
  • Fountain Square – historic Victorian fountain and city square in Downtown Bowling Green
  • H. P. Thomas – barbecue grills, picnic tables, playground, soccer fields, volleyball court
  • Hobson Grove – golf course, baseball fields, disc golf course, historic site, picnic tables, concession stands
  • James Hines – boating, historic site
  • Lovers Lane – soccer fields, disc golf course, picnic pavilion & tables, playgrounds, concession stand
  • Ogden – playground
  • Pedigo – baseball fields, outdoor basketball court, batting cage, concession stand, picnic pavilion & tables, playground, volleyball court
  • Preston Miller – water park/swimming pool, disc golf course, picnic pavilions & tables, playgrounds, swimming pools, volleyball courts, walking/running/running trail, concession stand
  • Reservoir Hill – grills, historic site, picnic pavilion & tables, playground
  • RiverWalk/Brownfield – historic site, walking/running trail
BGRiverwalkPk
Riverwalk Park, bordering the Barren River.
  • Roland Bland – skatepark, outdoor basketball courts, grills, horseshoes, picnic pavilion & tables, playgrounds, soccer field, tennis courts, volleyball court
  • Spero Kereiakes – baseball fields, outdoor basketball court, batting cage, concession stand, disc golf course, grills, picnic pavilions & tables, playgrounds, public gardening plots, soccer fields, tennis courts, volleyball court, walking/running trail
  • Westside Neighborhood – outdoor basketball court, playground

Swimming centers

  • Russell Sims Aquatic Center – The largest "water playground" in south-central Kentucky. The center includes zero-depth entry into the water, splash playground, swimming pool, water slides, diving boards and concessions.
  • Warren County Aquatics Facility – Domed pool facility open year-round. Closed February 2008. New facility is now open on Lover's Lane behind Warren County Public Schools main office. This facility was closed to public in April 2014 and is now used by private and school swim teams and physical therapy.

Transportation

Major highways

Other highways

  • Elongated circle 185.svgKentucky State Route 185
  • Elongated circle 234.svgKentucky State Route 234
  • Elongated circle 242.svgKentucky State Route 242
  • Elongated circle 880.svgKentucky State Route 880

Air transport

The city is served by Bowling Green–Warren County Regional Airport.

Buses

Community Action of Southern Kentucky operates GO bg Transit, which provides public transportation to Bowling Green. Intercity carriers that serve Bowling Green include Greyhound and Tornado Bus Company.

Nearby cities and communities

County communities

Nearby communities include: Allen Springs, Alvaton, Blue Level, Browning, Cavehill, Drake, Oakland, Petros, Plano, Plum Springs, Richardsville, Rich Pond, Rockfield, Smiths Grove and Woodburn.

Neighboring cities

Brownsville Franklin Glasgow
Morgantown Russellville Scottsville

Sister city

Bowling Green has two sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

  • Japan Kawanishi, Hyōgo, Japan
  • Germany Erfurt, Germany

In popular culture

Many songs take their inspiration from Bowling Green, most famously 1967's "Bowling Green" by the Everly Brothers. This song was covered by Neko Case in 1997.

Bowling Green was the site of a railroad station that gave rise to a famous court case, Black and White Taxicab Co. v. Brown and Yellow Taxicab Co. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. dissented and the case was mentioned and superseded by Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, a case famous for its doctrine and pervasiveness in Civil Procedure classes in law schools in the U.S.

Images for kids


Bowling Green, Kentucky Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.