The first piece of land in the area of present-day Frankfort was purchased in 1786. It was located on the north shore of the Kentucky River, at the site of the current downtown Frankfort. In 1792, after Kentucky became a US state, a group of commissioners was appointed to select the state capital. Several towns were in play but Frankfort won. Two years later, Frankfort got its first post office. The home of the governor, today known as the Old Governor’s Mansion, was completed in 1798. It is considered to be the oldest executive residence still in use in the entire USA. The Old Capitol (the third but not the final Kentucky state capitol) was built in 1829 and used until 1910.
When the Civil War started, Union troops built several fortifications surrounding and overlooking Frankfort, on what is now known as the Fort Hill. The city was occupied by the Confederates for a short while but it was soon liberated.
In 1900, the newly elected governor of Kentucky William Goebel was assassinated just as he was approaching the capitol. The former Secretary of State Caleb Powers was convicted as an accessory to murder.
The real growth and development of Frankfort came in the 1960s. Several new government buildings were built, and so was the Capitol Plaza, with the city’s tallest building, the Capitol Plaza Office Tower.
Frankfort Geography and Climate
Frankfort is located in the inner Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, a region in the northern portion of the state that contains the majority of the state’s population and also its largest cities. The Kentucky River, making an s-turn, passes right through the city and forms four distinct areas of Frankfort. Downtown and South Frankfort are located in the river valley and stand directly across the river from each other. There are also suburban areas on both sides of the valley, called West Frankfort and East Frankfort.
Frankfort, much like the rest of Kentucky, has a humid subtropical climate. The summers are hot and humid and winters mild to cool.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, in 2000 Frankfort had 27,741 inhabitants. The largest demographic group were Whites (81.84%), followed African Americans (14.7%), Hispanics or Latinos (1.48%), Asians (0.94%), Native Americans (0.13%) and Pacific Islanders (0.03%).
In 2000, the median household income in the city was $34,980 and the city per capita income was $20,512. According to the census, 13.9% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2000.
A large part of the economy in Frankfort relies on the state government, which is also the largest employer. The city’s manufacturing industry is based on wheels and other parts for cars, parts of the heating industry, tools, dye, pallets, fabrics and wood furniture.
Frankfort also hosts several producers of Kentucky Bourbon whiskey, most notably the Buffalo Trace Distillery.
The city is a trading center of the central Kentucky. The authorities are constantly working towards attracting new manufacturers and other industries to the city and inviting them to expand their operations. In order to create the most favorable economic climate for new companies, the city is constantly improving its infrastructure, especially the water supply, roads and such. In addition, it offers incentives such as low-rate loans for capital investments.
The most produced goods in Frankfort are bourbon, corn, candy, tobacco, plastics, textiles, furniture, electronic parts, automotive parts, as well as thoroughbred horses.
Culture in Frankfort
Much of the city culture in Frankfort is centered around its history of the state capital and also on its role in the American Civil War. Kentucky Historic Center is the best place in the city to explore its culture and history, and it also offers access to a research library and several educational programs.
The Farnham Dudgeon Civic Center hosts various musical, cultural and sporting events. Other major attractions in Frankfort and its surroundings include The Bluegrass Theatre Guild, The Capital Art Guild and the RiverPark Center.
Kentucky is considered to be the birthplace of bluegrass music and this genre is widely featured in Frankfort. Various indoor and outdoor venues host bluegrass shows throughout the year and each summer the city hosts the Bluegrass Festivals. Other festivals and annual events in the city include Capital Expo Arts & Crafts Festival, Franklin County Fair & Horse Show, the Kentucky Folklife Festival, Kentucky Book Fair and Many Cultures One Art Quilt Festival.
The major university in the city is the Kentucky State University, a historically black university. It consists of the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Applied Sciences, the School of Business, the School of Public Affairs and the Whitney M. Young, Jr. College of Leadership Studies.
The city has two school districts, two public high schools and one private high school. Frankfort, as well as the rest of the Franklin County, have a considerable homeschooling population.
Frankfort does not have a commercial passenger airport. The locals usually use Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport or Louisville International Airport. Mass transport in the city is provided by Frankfort Transit System.