Bowling Green Kentucky

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Bowling Green is a home rule-class city and the county seat of Warren County, Kentucky, United States. Founded by pioneers in 1798, Bowling Green was the provisional capital of Confederate Kentucky during the American Civil War. As of the 2020 census, its population of 72,294 made it the third-most-populous city in the state after Louisville and Lexington; its metropolitan area, which is the fourth largest in the state after Louisville, Lexington, and Northern Kentucky, had an estimated population of 179,240; and the combined statistical area it shares with Glasgow has an estimated population of 233,560.

In the 21st century, it is the location of numerous manufacturers, including General Motors, Spalding, 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 Western Kentucky University and the National Corvette Museum.

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 developed from homesteads erected by Robert and George Moore and General Elijah Covington, the namesake of the town near Cincinnati.

Some controversy exists over the source of the town's name. The city refers to 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. According to the Encyclopedia of Kentucky, the name was derived from Bowling Green, Virginia, from where early migrants had come, or the personal "ball alley game" of founder Robert Moore.

By 1810, Bowling Green had 154 residents. Growth in steamboat commerce and the proximity of the Barren River increased Bowling Green's prominence. In 1821, the Kentucky Legislature built a toll road between the town and Cloverport on the Ohio River. 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. The Confederates fortified surrounding hills 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 began 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 toward 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 was 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.

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 surpassed the University of Louisville.

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

In 1925, the third and last Louisville and Nashville Railroad Station was opened. About 27 trains arrived daily at the depot. Intercity bus lines were also a popular form of travel. By the 1960s, railroad travel had dramatically declined in the face of competition from airlines and automobiles. The station has been adapted for use as a museum.

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 retail 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: it is a large, annual gathering of Corvette owners, car parades, and related activities in Bowling Green. 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.

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, as well as its 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 Bowling Green Riverfront Foundation expanded 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), 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.

During the early morning hours of December 11, 2021, two destructive tornadoes struck Bowling Green. The first was an EF3 tornado that heavily damaged or destroyed several buildings and homes and killed seventeen people. The second tornado formed alongside the Main EF3 and caused additional damage on the southern and eastern part of the city and was rated EF2.

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.

Bowling Green has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 35.7 Â°F (2.1 Â°C) in January to 78.7 Â°F (25.9 Â°C) in July. On average, 41 days of 90 Â°F (32 Â°C)+ highs occur annually, and 11 days occur each winter when the high fails to rise above freezing. Annual precipitation is 47.51 in, with spring being slightly wetter; snowfall averages 8.4 inches (21.3 cm) per year. Extreme temperatures range from −21 Â°F (−29 Â°C) on January 23 and 24, 1963, up to 108 Â°F (42 Â°C) on July 28, 1930.

As of the census of 2020, 72,294 people resided in the city. The population density was 1,808.8 inhabitants per square mile (698.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 64.3% White, 13.8% African American, 0.4% Native American, 8.0% Asian, 0.8% Pacific Islander, and 7.1% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 5.6% of the population.

Of the 27,504 households, 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.3% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46% were not families. About 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34, and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.4% under the age of 18, 26.7% from 15 to 24, 27% from 25 to 44, 16.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 or older. The median age was 27.6 years. Females made up 51.5% of the population and males made up 48.5%.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,044, and for families was $50,853. Males had a median income of $35,986 versus $28,271 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,302. About 20.9% of families and 25.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.7% of those under age 18.

Western Kentucky University is the largest employer in Bowling Green; according to a 2022 report, WKU employed 3,274 people. A 2011 study estimated that WKU salaries account for approximately 10% of all income earned in Warren County, which includes the city.

General Motors' Bowling Green Assembly Plant, which opened in 1981, is located in the city; by 2023, the plant had produced approximately 1.1 million Chevrolet Corvettes. As of 2022, GM employed approximately 1,100 people in Bowling Green. The plant's workers are unionized, belonging to UAW Local 2164.

Auto supplier Holley Performance Products has manufactured products in Bowling Green since 1952, and has been headquartered in the city since 1994. The Japan-based Kobe Steel Ltd. operates a large assembly plant in Bowling Green, manufacturing aluminum products used in car bumpers and frames for the North American auto sector; construction of the plant began in 2016, and began operation in 2018. Camping World Holdings Inc., an RV company, was founded in Bowling Green in 1966 by David Garvin, the owner of the Beech Bend amusement park; the company maintains Bowling Green as one of three headquarters (the others being Lincolnshire, England and Denver, Colorado). In 2022, AESC, a Japanese electric vehicle battery firm, announced plans to establish the Envision AESC plant at Bowling Green, creating an estimated 2,000 jobs in a $2 billion "gigafactory" investment.

Apparel manufacturer Union Underwear Co. LLC, doing business as Fruit of the Loom, is headquartered in Bowling Green, employing about 930 people in the city as of 2022. The company shuttered its plant in nearby Jamestown in 2014. Conglomerate Houchens Industries, one of the U.S.'s largest 100% employee-owned enterprises, is based in Bowling Green. The Swedish company SCA opened a manufacturing facility in Bowling Green in 1988; as of 2016, the company employed about 160 employees in Bowling Green and 500 employees at a paper mill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, acquired from Wausau Paper.

According to the city's 2022 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:

Bowling Green is served by the Warren County Public Library. The main library is the Lisa Rice Library. Its website is

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.

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 NCAA, and are part of conference USA

Bowling Green Ballpark is a baseball stadium currently in use in Bowling Green. It is primarily used for baseball, for the High-A Bowling Green Hot Rods organization of the High-A East. The Hot Rods began play in the spring of 2009 in the South Atlantic League, transferring to the Midwest League for 2010. In 2021 as part of Minor League Baseball's realignment they began play in the newly formed High-A East. 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.

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

Swim centers include Russell Sims Aquatic Center, and Warren County Aquatics Facility.

Public education is provided by the Bowling Green Independent School District in inner sections of Bowling Green and by Warren County Public Schools in outerlying sections. Several private schools also serve Bowling Green students.

All of these schools are operated by the Warren County district except Bowling Green Junior High.

All schools are operated by the Warren County district except Bowling Green High and Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science.

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

Community Action of Southern Kentucky operates GO bg Transit, which provides public transportation within Bowling Green. Western Kentucky University operates transit around campus, branded as Topper Transit.

Bowling Green was served for many years by intercity bus carriers, primarily Greyhound. But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greyhound downgraded their existing station to an unmanned stop, and then eliminated the stop entirely in May 2020. The end of Greyhound service marked the first time the city has been without some form of public intercity transportation since 1858, when the Louisville and Nashville Railroad first reached the city.

Greyhound now serves a stop in Franklin, Kentucky, about 20 miles south of Bowling Green.

Tornado Bus Company, based in Mexico to primarily serve the Hispanic market, lists Bowling Green as a destination, but the stop is actually located in Smiths Grove, Kentucky, about 12 miles northeast of downtown Bowling Green.

Bowling Green receives rail freight service from CSX through the former Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) namesake line. The R.J. Corman Railroad Group operates freight service on the former L&N line to Memphis from Bowling Green to Clarksville, Tennessee; the line joins with CSX at Memphis Junction on Bowling Green's southern side.


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