Nicknamed the “Horse Capital of the World,” the city of Lexington is located in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region. With fertile soil and rolling hills, the geographic landscape has been both advantageous and aesthetically appealing to its inhabitants for hundreds of years. Tucked within Lexington, you will find the charming neighborhood of Beaumont, one of the historic city’s most popular sections because of its access to creature comforts and an abundance of charm.
Native Americans flocked to the area now known as Lexington because of its plentiful wildlife for hunting. Years later, famed explorer Daniel Boone would pave the way for civilization in the region by establishing one of the first settlements in the state (Boonesboro) in 1775. Around this time, a group of frontiersmen, including William McConnell, began to settle an area known as McConnell Springs—which would go on to become Lexington. Settlers reportedly named the area after the site of the Revolutionary War’s first battle in Lexington, Massachusetts. However, these early residents had to be cautious of Native American uprisings, which delayed the permanent settling of the area.
The 1800s were a period of growth and evolution for Lexington. In 1806, poet Josiah Espy spoke highly of the city in a letter in which he referred to the city as the “Athens of the West” due to its vibrancy and collection of thinkers and intellectuals. The nickname stuck and is still a source of pride for Lexingtonians today. Toward the end of the century, tobacco became Lexington’s most profitable crop.
The 1900s saw the rise of Lexington as the epicenter of thoroughbred horse racing, a title it still holds today. The internationally renowned Keeneland Race Course, which is still in operation, opened in 1936, helping to cement Lexington as the place to be when it comes to horse racing.
But beyond the horses, Lexington has continued to establish itself as a community full of innovative and forward-looking thinkers. It now boasts one of the country’s highest rates of college-educated residents and has a thriving art and music scene. Because of its involvement in many seminal moments in the foundation of our country, the city attracts history buffs from all over seeking to soak up Lexington’s past.
The neighborhood of Beaumont offers a unique chance to live away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Lexington but still be within a 15-minute drive of all the amenities that the city’s inner core offers.
When it comes to things to do in the city, horse racing and history dominate the entertainment scene. One of the most popular picks is to visit the Kentucky Horse Park and attend the Smithsonian International Museum of the Horse. The museum chronicles how horse rearing has evolved over hundreds of years and details how different civilizations used their horses. There is also an assortment of horse farm tours that traverse throughout the Bluegrass Region. And, of course, you can’t talk about horses in Lexington without mentioning a visit to Keeneland.
On the history side, check out the Mary Todd Lincoln House. Since it was perfectly preserved, this childhood home of the 16th is now one of the city’s top attractions. One of the most unique things about the site is that it was the first historical location restored to honor a First Lady. There are guided tours that talk guests through the home’s many artifacts, paintings and pieces of furniture.
You can also find the historic Ashland Mansion—home of Henry Clay, also known as “The Great Compromiser”—in Lexington. Much like the Mary Todd Lincoln House, this 18-room mansion features original furniture and artwork in a meticulously preserved fashion.
Another history-themed favorite in Lexington is the Aviation Museum of Kentucky. Housed in the Blue Grass Airport of Lexington, this museum displays both modern and historical aircraft, photos, documents and other visual displays that tell the tale of air travel.
The state of Kentucky is also the site of nearly all of the country’s bourbon production, and Lexington is in close proximity to many of the most popular distilleries. There are several in Lexington that offer tours and samples for guests, but others are within a short drive as part of the state’s famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
If you’re interested in just taking in some of the city’s scenic landscapes, check out the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary and The Arboretum. Both provide spectacular views and offer up a picturesque place to relax.
On the strength of a balanced business base, the city of Lexington has one of the country’s most stable economies, which has contributed to it racking up many awards. In recent years, the city has ranked highly in lists that compile the best places for businesses and careers, young professionals and value cities.
The city’s largest employer is the University of Kentucky, which has more than 13,000 full-time employees, but there are a number of high-profile corporations who have a presence in Lexington. Xerox, Lexmark International, Lockheed Martin, IBM, UPS, Trane, Jif and Amazon.com all have a sizable workforce in the city.
Depending on where you are in the city, you could have direct access to Interstate 64 and Interstate 75. But one of the most interesting design characteristics of Lexington’s city planning is that freeways do not run through downtown, which helps to maintain the city’s charm.
However, there are two convenient beltways that circle the city and connect Lexington to other, more suburban parts of the area. Public ground transportation by Lextran makes up the city’s public transit bus system. The service runs seven days a week and has stops through Lexington.
For air travel, Blue Grass Airport is the commercial airport most frequently used by locals and visitors. The airport offers service to a number of domestic cities with Atlanta, Chicago and Charlotte—three of the country’s biggest hubs—serving as the busiest routes.
While the University of Kentucky—the state’s flagship public university—is in Lexington, it’s not the only local institution of higher learning. You can also find Transylvania University, the state’s oldest four-year university, and several other smaller colleges in the Lexington area. School-age children in the public-school system will attend one of the Fayette County public schools.
Demographic Breakdown for Lexington (source: City Data)
Estimated median household income in 2016: $53,178
Median resident age: 34.4
Estimated median house or condo value in 2016: $181,200
Median gross rent in 2016 for apartments: $818
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