Sunday, March 8, 2009
Where in the world is Kentuckiana?
When you arrive at the Louisville (KY) International Airport you'll be greeted by the voice of Mayor Jerry Abramson welcoming you to the 16th (or is it 14th?) largest city in the United States. Impressive. Who knew?
Whenever I hear statistics like that tossed around, my dormant journalistic ears perk up because I always want to know how accurate they are. When I heard the mayor of "Possibility City" (that's the town's nickname) toss out his claim, I immediately thought, "Really?! Is there a remote possibility that this is true?" And I think most people, including me, are willing to cut a guy like Mayor Abramson some slack, even if he's stretching the truth a little, or even using some slightly outdated statistics.
Folks, Jerry must be using some numbers from the Confederacy, because he's not even close. According to the US Census Bureau, Louisville-Jefferson County, KY, is the 26th largest city in the US, and the metro area (including southern Indiana) ranks 42nd. (For the record, the 14th through 16th largest cities are San Francisco, Columbus, and Austin.)
I've just returned from Kentuckiana -- that's what the local news stations have dubbed this verdant and burgeoning metroplex of the mid-south that is bisected by the Ohio River.
I spent nearly a week performing at the beautiful Ogle Center on the campus of Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, on the northern bank of the Ohio River. Each afternoon, as I'd head back to my hotel, I'd gaze across the water at the Louisville skyline pondering why on earth the mayor of a very cool, fully respectable city would simply make up stuff to impress visitors.
Mayor Jerry, you don't have to dupe us into being impressed by Louisville. You've got Churchill Downs -- home of the Kentucky Derby -- "the most exciting two minutes in sports." (I've been to the "run for the roses" and it's one of those awesome must-see-events-of-a-lifetime.) You've got Muhammad Ali and Pee Wee Reese. You've got the birthplace of the song "Happy Birthday to You." You've got the Louisville Slugger factory and museum -- every baseball fan has got to go on this tour! You've got the University of Louisville Cardinals who, as of today, are ranked sixth in NCAA men's basketball. And you've got a very cool minor league baseball stadium.
Dude, you've got a great city. Flaunt what you've got, and quit making stuff up.