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View Poll Results: Is it more Southern or Midwestern
Southern 13 86.67%
Midwestern 2 13.33%
Voters: 15. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old Posted Dec 7, 2008, 2:41 AM
Louisvilleslugger Louisvilleslugger is offline
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Louisville Southern or Midwestern (Southern Edition)

I asked this question a few months ago in the Midwestern Thread got 70% of Midwesterners saying that Louisville was Southern, vs 30% saying that it was Midwestern. I was wondering what Southerners though about Kentucky's Largest city and it's regional alignment. My personal view is that it's Southern! Upland Southern to be exact. While it does have characterstics atypical of the South suchas large German American Ancestry it doesn't take away from it's Southerness.

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Now honestly, I do see why you’d think it has a Midwestern under-culture, but it is a major city. The same argument, I assure you, can be made of New Orleans, Atlanta, Charleston. Major cities have major immigration, and people from all over the country--and the world--make their homes there. Sad as it is, it has shown its effects on the cities, but I assure you, at Louisville’s core, is the South. It has even been said that during the darkest days of the war, Louisville had more “Johnny Rebs” and “Southern Belles” than the entire state of Mississippi. As an historian, I might be inclined to believe that. Having mentioned Southern Belles, you’d be well advised to note Sallie Ward was a Louisvillian. Her portrait is often named “The Southern Belle.” That is because she was THE Southern Belle in the ante-bellum days. More Scarlett O’Hara than Scarlett herself! Literally, she was considered THE belle of the South! None of that is even mentioning that, as someone else noted, Louisville is a river city, giving it all the more reason to intermingle cultures. Nonetheless, to the trained ear, one can hear the traces of Southern accents in downtown Louisville, and thick as molasses accents among some of the older residence. Step outside the city limits--you can no longer judge the South by its cities. Anyone who lives in a Southern city will note the changes over the years. They’ve become melting pots, good or bad! Oh, and what is Louisville’s nickname? You don’t know? Let me tell you, “Gateway to the South!” That’s a take on its old days as a river port, and its being a Southern city, noted for two great Southern pastimes, horseracing and bourbon!

From a cultural geography perspective the usual northmost line of Southern cultural influences in the lower Midwest is US 40, so it might be more accurate to consider southern Indiana and Illinois more southern than it would to consider Kentucky Midwestern. The Southern Focus study referenced earlier seems to confim the Southern character of Kentucky. About the only part of the state that could be considered Midwestern are the three northern counties across the river from Cincinnati.

Louisville is probably a bit more unusual in that it has aspects that are not traditionally associated with the South. In terms of historical aspects the city was settled by Virginians, and then recieved a large immigration from Germany and Ireland. Unlike other Midwestern cities it did not experience input from the second immigration from southern and eastern Europe to any signifigant degree, and lacks any historical "ethnic neighborhoods" that characterize true Midwestern cities like Dayton or Fort Wayne or South Bend. Louisville has experienced in-migration from the rural areas of central and western Kentucky (the areas directly south and west of the city), which has reinforced its southern character in modern times, which reinforced the southern character of the local working-class.

Louisville was and is industrial, but that is not necessarily a marker of being a Midwestern anomaly in a southern region, as numerous southern cities have an industrial base, such as the textile cities of the Carolina Piedmont. Louisvilles industial development was part of the New South, and marketed to the South, and its leading newspaper editor of the postbellum era, Henry Watterson, was considered an expontent of the New South ideology. During the postbellum era the L&N Railroad, headquarted in Lousiville, was a major carrier into the deep South, terminating at Pensacola and New Orleans, and painted its locomotives "confederate gray".

Another aspect of Louisville that gives it a historical and modern Southern character is the experience of slavery. Louisville did have a large slave population (one of the largest), and slaves were used in industry (44 worked for one company), building trades, steamboat trade, and as household servants. During the Jim Crow era Louisville did segrate blacks and whites into seperate school systems, and event tried to enact ordnances restricting blacks to certain neighborghoods (found unconstitutional by the USSC). One did not see this type of legal Jim Crow elsewhere in the Midwest. Some of the residential patterns of black settlement also paralled other urban south centers. In Midwestern cities blacks settled in older inner city neighborhoods, but in Louisville there was a tendancy for blacks to settle on the urban periphery, originally in Smoketown, but later in neighborhoods like Little Africa (later Park Duvalle) and in the Wet Woods (the Newburgh Road area). This pattern is similar to that identified by Harold Rabinowitz in his "Race Relations in the Urban South", where freed slaves formed settlements on the edges of Southern cities (which is quite visible in Lexington, too).








The aspect of religion as a indicator of southern cultural character is also key as Louisville is a center of the Southern Baptist faith, with a large seminary in town. Baptists vie with Catholics as the largest denomination in the city. You will not find a Midwestern city ouside Missouri (one county in Kansas city) that has a signifigant Baptist population. Louisville however does.





The Bible Belt

If it's worth mentioning Richmond Va (former capitol of the Confederacy) has a larger Catholic population than Louisville. While Texas has always had a large Hispanic Catholic population, the cities of San Antonio and Galveston, Texas were hot beds for German Catholics. It should also be noted that Louisville German and Irish in migration was to a MUCH less degree than St.Louis and Cincinnati, so much less that Louisville's blacks will be the largest ancestry in the city within 2 or 3 years.

Louisville like every other Southern city lost black population during the first black migration North. This is quite the opposite in St.Louis and Cincinnati, in which this played a major role in the building of the cities we see today. St.Louis especially was a hotbed for black migrants, which was the complete opposite for Louisville, being steeped in Southern culture and idealology.

http://www.uic.edu/educ/bctpi/greatm...eftcolumn.html (broken link)

http://ucdata.berkeley.edu:7101/rsfc.../blkp10_00.gif

Here are two excellent sources showing how Louisville and the South in general held the highest concentration of blacks until the migration.

The physical character of the city is more southern to me. The common vernacular housing of the older pre-WWII city is not like that in other Midwestern cities, where one sees the use of one or two story houses or cottages (sometimes duplex apartments) with the gable end facing the street. Louisville uses the very Southern shotgun house, as well as other forms that are appear to be unique to Louisville, such as a variation on the foursquare. For post WWII building, there was the continued popularity of neoclassical or colonial revival in developer housing. Even the local version of the ranch house sometimes uses wrought iron on the front porches as a sort of generic reference to "New Orleans/River City".

All of the following sources label Louisville and Kentucky as Southern in terms of dialect.













The last map was from the "Do you speak American" dialect studies in which Louisville was also listed as a Southern city.

Below are Three cultural maps. The author draws the Southern boudary line through Southern the Southern ares of Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio, So obviously Louisville is safely tucked below that line (not saying that it doesn't have Midwestern influence).







This map is from the Nine Nations of North America!



Louisville pronouces it Coke along with the rest of the South
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  #2  
Old Posted Dec 11, 2008, 7:19 PM
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KB0679 KB0679 is offline
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It's Southern...not Deep Southern or Appalachian Southern or Piedmont Southern, but certainly Southern.
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  #3  
Old Posted Mar 20, 2009, 5:16 AM
kg-IndyMIDWEST kg-IndyMIDWEST is offline
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They have southern hospitality yet the city feels midwestern, I was just there last weekend.
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Old Posted May 10, 2009, 9:18 PM
mark40511 mark40511 is offline
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I'm from NC originally. I live in Lexington now. I think Louisville is southern but on a MUCH smaller scale. I was in Birmingham and there is SUCH a difference in the "feel". So to me, it's southern bordering on midwestern.
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  #5  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2018, 12:30 AM
JZambrano JZambrano is offline
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Louisville is a Southern city, plain and simple. I absolutely refuse to consider Louisville a Midwestern city. Just because it borders Indiana, doesn’t mean it’s a Midwestern city. Anybody who considers Louisville a Midwestern city, is obviously ignorant of geography. In order to be a Midwestern city, it has to be in a Midwestern state. Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and even Fargo are Midwestern cities, because they are in Midwestern states. Makes sense. Louisville is a Southern city, which is in Kentucky, a Southern state. Covington, Ashland, Owensboro, and Paducah are Southern cities also. They may border Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois respectively, but they still aren’t Midwestern cities.

And to deliver the final summary, all of Kentucky is Southern, and I mean all of it. That goes for you, too Northern Kentucky. You may be near Cincinnati but you aren’t in Cincinnati. BIG DIFFERENCE. And believe it or not Covington is nicknamed, “Gateway to the South”. If you’re in Kentucky, you are in the South. End of story.
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  #6  
Old Posted Mar 31, 2018, 6:55 PM
JZambrano JZambrano is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louisvilleslugger View Post
I asked this question a few months ago in the Midwestern Thread got 70% of Midwesterners saying that Louisville was Southern, vs 30% saying that it was Midwestern. I was wondering what Southerners though about Kentucky's Largest city and it's regional alignment. My personal view is that it's Southern! Upland Southern to be exact. While it does have characterstics atypical of the South suchas large German American Ancestry it doesn't take away from it's Southerness.
And so does Northern Kentucky (Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties collectively). You’ll notice what color that are highlighted in. Hell a lot of West Virginia says “pop”. And then I’m thinking that the term “pop” as alternate term for soft drinks is not just a Midwestern thing, but it’s an Upper South thing also.
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