|City of Henderson, Kentucky|
|— City —|
|Henderson County Judicial Center|
|• Mayor||Steve Austin|
|• Total||15.0 sq mi (38.8 km2)|
|• Land||15.0 sq mi (38.8 km2)|
|• Water||2.1 sq mi (5.4 km2) 12.36%|
|Elevation||400 ft (121 m)|
|Time zone||CST (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|ZIP Code||42420, 42419|
|GNIS feature ID||0494023|
Henderson is a city in Henderson County, Kentucky, United States, along the Ohio River in the western part of the state. The population was 27,952 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Evansville Metropolitan Area often referred to as "Kentuckiana", although "Tri-State Area" or "Tri-State" are more commonly used by the local media. Some travelers view it as the "gateway" to the South or Midwest. The city was named after Colonel Richard Henderson, an eighteenth-century land speculator, by his associates Gen. Samuel Hopkins and Thomas Allin.
Notable residents have included the ornithologist, naturalist, and painter John James Audubon, as well as blues legend W.C. Handy. For more than 100 years the city has been home to the Southern Cherokee Nation.
18th century 
Henderson has its roots in a small, block-wide strip of land high above the Ohio River, currently the site of Audubon Mill Park (directly south of the city's riverfront boat dock). A village on this site was called "Red Banks" by the Cherokee who historically lived and hunted there, because of the reddish clay soil on the tall banks of the river. By the early and mid-1790s, Red Banks had a tavern and residents included several European-American families, as well as the Cherokee. On 16 Nov 1792, "Red Banks" resident Robert Simpson wrote to Colonel Alexander D. Orr in Lexington, requesting help to appoint a magistrate in Red Banks, as he believed that some of its 30 families were of dubious character and engaged in criminal activities, creating the need for a justice system. By late 1792, free male inhabitants (who did not include the Cherokee, as they had their own nation and were not counted as US citizens) totaled 62 people in Red Banks or Charleston, Ohio, then part of Logan County, Kentucky.
On March 17, 1775, North Carolina judge Colonel Richard Henderson, his group the Transylvania Company, and others sought to purchase much of the territory lying between the Ohio, Cumberland, and Kentucky rivers from the Cherokee. The land company gathered 1,200 Cherokee in council at Sycamore Shoals (located at present-day Elizabethton, Tennessee) to hear their proposal for purchase. This area of both modern-day Kentucky and Tennessee, amounting to over 17,000,000 acres (69,000 km2) of land, is known as the Transylvania Purchase. The land company's plan was to resell the frontier lands to settlers.
The Virginia General Assembly voided the deal as it claimed the sole right to purchase land from the Indians within the bounds of the Royal Charter. (Soon the United States government would claim sole authority to negotiate with Native Americans.) But the state granted Henderson and his company 200,000 acres (810 km2) (800 km²) in exchange for their efforts to develop what they considered a wilderness region. That ground was located where the Green River flows into the Ohio River. Henderson hired Daniel Boone to survey the country and select favorable sites, but he died before his namesake town was developed. On behalf of other investors and their heirs, Gen. Samuel Hopkins and Thomas Allin, a surveyor, in 1797 visited Red Banks and laid out plans for a town, which was named Henderson.
By October 29, 1799, a census for the city and county of Henderson, Kentucky. Census information showed that the population of the town was 183. The county had 423 residents, 207 slaves, and 412 horses.
A distinguishing characteristic of the new town plan was unusually wide streets, reportedly to prevent a fire in one block from easily spreading to another. Even with diagonal parking spaces outlined on downtown streets today, the streets are wide enough to include two-way traffic and space left over for delivery trucks to park in the center of the streets without interfering.
19th century 
A post office was established in the town in 1801, and Hendersonville received its city rights in 1810.
By mid-century, Henderson County had become a major producer of tobacco, much of which was exported to Great Britain. The area was reported to be the largest dark tobacco producer in the world; large tobacco warehouses and stemmeries dotted the downtown Henderson area. Postcards from the era show long lines of horse/mule-drawn wagons piled high with tobacco, waiting their turn to unload for shipment downriver. Some tobacco processors accumulated considerable fortunes.
20th century 
Shortly before World War I, Henderson was said to have more millionaires than any city in the world for its size. But Great Britain imposed a high tariff on imported tobacco after World War I, wrecking the county and city's export market. Tobacco warehouses and plants closed, and the community's economic fortunes reversed. The last tobacco facility, the Soaper Tobacco Warehouse on Pennell Street, closed in 1984.
As a regional trading center, Henderson continued in the 20th century. Businesses were concentrated in the downtown area. In the early 20th century, Henderson's city had very recognizable neighborhoods, or unincorporated places, within the city and the outlying edges of town. Neighborhoods were: Audubon, Weaverton, Audubon Heights; segments of Audubon and Weaverton were sometimes referred to as the "East End". "East End" held the second biggest business area next to downtown Henderson.
Natural disasters 
Henderson had unusual weather patterns in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The "great sleet" of 1901 fell for three weeks in February and "horses had to have special shoes to keep their footing on local roads". In 1908 the Henderson area had high temperatures and a drought, which markedly reduced the flow of the Ohio River. The Henderson Daily Gleaner reported that "boys were playing baseball every day in the middle of the old riverbed". All businesses were challenged and forced to close. A Henderson reporter wrote, "[I]t is almost hazardous for even small gasoline boats to run".
On June 20, 1914, Henderson was hit by a "baby cyclone." Jack Hudgions, local historian and newsman, wrote that "hail as large as partridge eggs fell for ten minutes and that powerful winds uprooted giant trees "and twisted limbs from shade trees in the city." In the northern part of Henderson, several buildings were blown down and wheat stocks were scattered. The storm lasted for more than 30 minutes, laying crops low throughout the county. Telephone lines were damaged and windows broken in the city and county by the hail stones. Twenty-six days later, the city was hit by a tornado that left two dead and much of the city in ruins.
In 1937, 21 inches of precipitation fell in 18 days over the Ohio River watershed, resulting in the Ohio River flood of 1937 and extensive damage. Henderson, on its bluff, was spared much of the damage that Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Evansville, Paducah and other cities suffered. Leigh Harris, the publisher of the Henderson Gleaner and Evening Journal newspapers, wrote, "Henderson is on the river but never in it!" Its favorable location helped the city attract new industries.
Henderson is located at  According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.1 square miles (44.2 km²), of which, 15.0 square miles (38.8 km²) of it is land and 2.1 square miles (5.5 km²) of it (12.36%) is water.(37.835587, -87.580713).
Because the Indiana-Kentucky border is defined as the low-water mark on the north bank of the Ohio River as of 1792, and because the river changed course as a result of the New Madrid Earthquake of 1812, a small portion of Henderson County (approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) long and 1-mile (1.6 km) wide), lies north of the current course of the river in what would appear to be part of Indiana. Both the Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Bridges and the Ellis Park Racecourse horse racing track are located entirely within Kentucky. The racetrack uses Indiana's 812 area code despite officially being located in Kentucky.
Henderson provides mass transit to as many citizens as possible in the service area. The Henderson Area Rapid Transit (HART) was created in 1957 as a publicly owned mass transit system, of which all citizens who live in the City of Henderson are part owners.
Zip codes and Area codes 
The Zip codes used in the city of Henderson are 42419 and 42420, and it uses the telephone area code 270. The exception is the Ellis Park Racecourse racing track, as mentioned above, which uses Indiana's 812 area code despite being located in Henderson County.
As of the census of 2010, there were 28,757 people, 12,253 households, and 7,949 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,917.1 people per square mile (741.2/km²). There were 13,212 housing units at an average density of 845.4 per square mile (326.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.1% White, 11.8% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.58% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.27% of the population.
There were 11,693 households out of which 29.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.8% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.86.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,790, and the median income for a family was $45,250. Males had a median income of $37,494 versus $27,588 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,288. About 13.2% of families and 16.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.6% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.
The county has numerous industries, including aluminum production, automotive and appliance parts, plastic injection molding, tool and die making, food processing and processing of recycled materials. In June 2008, of the 20,205 jobs in Henderson, almost 12% were government jobs. It also ranks as one of Kentucky's top three corn and soybean producers. Henderson is also one of the state's leading coal producers, with over 2.8 million tons produced in 2004.
The Henderson County school system includes eight elementary schools: A.B. Chandler, Spottsville, East Heights, Bend Gate, South Heights, Jefferson, Cairo, and Niagara; two middle schools, North Middle and South Middle; and one high school, Henderson County High School. There is also a school for students with mental and/or physical deficiencies, Riverview, and an alternative school for those suspended from the other schools in the district, Central Learning Center. There is one parochial school, Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School.
Henderson is home to one postsecondary institution, Henderson Community College, as well as a satellite campus of Murray State University. In addition, students are also served by Oakland City University Evansville Center, University of Evansville, and University of Southern Indiana in neighboring Evansville, Indiana.
Annual festivals 
Each year Henderson hosts a variety of events and festivals. The Henderson Breakfast Lions Club holds the Tri-Fest, a street festival that raises funds for non-profit organizations, in mid-April each year. There is also the free Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival in mid-June and the free Bluegrass in the Park Folklife Festival in August. Annual barbecues have been a Henderson tradition dating as far back as the one started on Sunday, July 18, 1926 in Atkinson Park by the Henderson Freight Station employees. Notable foods were lamb, burgoo, etc.
Bluegrass in the Park Folklife Festival is one of the largest free Bluegrass festivals in the country. It is Henderson's oldest on-going music festival and marked its 25th continuous year in 2010. Past performers have included Bill Monroe, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Ricky Skaggs, John Hartford, Glen Campbell, and other notable Bluegrass artists. The Folklife aspect of the festival is a celebration of local lifestyles and culture with displays on recreational folklife (traditional games), functional folklife (quilting, tatting, chair-caning, basket-making, fly-tying), oral traditions (storytelling), folk music, food traditions (curing country hams, making burgoo, the craft of barbecue), and foreign cultures that have integrated with local traditions, among other things.
The Green River Arts & Crafts Festival is a large event that has been held for more than 30 years on a weekend in early October at John James Audubon State Park and organized by the Green River Area Development District.
Music and film 
The blues legend W.C. Handy lived for nearly a decade in Henderson before he started writing music. In an interview with Joe Creason of the Louisville Courier-Journal, done a few years before he died but not published until March 9, 1973, Handy said:
"I didn’t write any songs in Henderson, but it was there I realized that experiences I had had, things I had seen and heard could be set down in a kind of music characteristic of my race. There I learned to appreciate the music of my people … then the blues were born, because from that day on, I started thinking about putting my own experience down in that particular kind of music."
A few scenes from the movie A League of Their Own (1992) were shot in Henderson, including boarding house scenes filmed at 612 North Main St., once the home of Augustus Owsley Stanley, a governor of Kentucky and U.S. senator.
Ellis Park 
A main attraction in Henderson is the Ellis Park Race Course, originally named Dade Park. The park was built in 1922 by the Green River Jockey Club, made up of the owners of Thoroughbred racehorses. Although Ellis Park is located on the Indiana side of the Ohio river, by an oddity of history, the land from Waterworks and Shawnee roads in Evansville south to the Ohio River are part of Henderson County. According to the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA), Ellis Park ranked 6th of 65 Thoroughbred racetracks, behind Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, as the best wagering opportunity among racing tracks in North America.
Sporting events 
In 1994, the Henderson Recreational Association signed a contract with the Babe Ruth League, Inc. to host the 1994 Bambino World Series. This was the first time the city of Henderson had ever hosted a major sporting event. Although Park Field was the intended site for the Series, organizers found that it did not meet the BRL requirements. The city had to construct a larger and better-equipped stadium. Construction on the project began in 1992 and ended in the early part of 1994. After the renovations, seating in Park Field was increased to 5,500. The playing field was resurfaced as part of the project, and many other improvements were made.
On August 10, 1994, the first pitch of the 1994 Bambino World Series was thrown out. Thousands of fans packed into Park Field to watch the event. A week of baseball was set, bringing in qualifying teams from all over the United States and the Virgin Islands. Kennewick, Washington took home the crown. Two years later, the town decided to bring the Series back to Henderson. A 24-hour television station was dedicated entirely to the event. On the day of the event, The Gleaner, the local newspaper, published a special program for the event; it included data on all the teams, bios, pictures and a baseball card treatment for the host team, the Henderson All-Stars. The 1996 Bambino World Series began on August 17, 1996. The Henderson All-Star Team advanced to the National Championship game, which no other host team has accomplished. Oakland, California won with an 8-4 score.
Organized baseball for Henderson's youth (primarily boys) was started by William Hebe, James "Hank" Harpole, and Joe Gabe via organizational meetings in the local YMCA in 1949-50. Affiliation with the national Little League was obtained. The city reclaimed landfill property on the high banks of the Ohio River and dedicated it to the development of three regulation fields, two for Little League (boys 6-12) and one for "Pony League" (boys 12-15), called Park Field. The area is adjacent to a city park. At one time it held the headquarters building of the local amateur ham radio club, W4KVK. Harpole was a major leader who took on a range of tasks to support the leagues. Numerous teams and other fields were developed in the city. Harpole later founded a "T-ball" league for pre-schoolers (to 6 years) that included girls.
Points of interest 
- John James Audubon State Park—Ornithologist, naturalist, and painter John James Audubon spent several years in Henderson in the 1810s. He had a store with his partner Ferdinand Rozier before deciding to work at art full-time. He is honored in the downtown with nine cast-bronze sculptures based on paintings from his Birds of America series, at the John James Audubon State Park and Museum. It houses the world's largest collection of Audubon memorabilia and one of the most extensive collections of his work. The park offers an Audubon sculpture walking tour set in a landscape where visitors may also see wildlife.
- River Front— The city's downtown and river front has a simple design, particularly the Audubon Mill Park. Along with the parks, the river front's play area showcases a popular water park fountain. The water park has two areas; one larger area contains forty-five jets varying in height from a few feet to a towering fifteen feet, and the second play area has smaller jets approximately two feet in height. This one offers endless amusement for children. Trails and benches lead along the Ohio river for walkers and bikers. Visitors may enjoy looking at the CSX Bridge crossing the river to Indiana. A dock extends from the bank for fishing in the river or "plain ol'" setting.
- Green River State Forest—About five miles (8 km) northeast of Henderson is 1,106 acres (4.48 km2) of the Green River State Park. This park is open for the public for recreational uses such as hunting, fishing, or hiking. More than half of the park is situated at the bottoms of Henderson's bluff toward the Ohio river, with 65–70 acres (260,000–280,000 m2) of swampland. The land has been used by humans since prehistoric times. In the mid-16th century, the Spanish DeSoto Expedition camped here. His chroniclers wrote of hostilities between the Spanish and the Native Americans. The Green RIver State Forest and Henderson's north side have sites that are considered part of Desoto's Trail.
- The Sloughs—Nearly 10,000 acres (40 km2) of the city is a wetland area. The land has several bald cypress sloughs or swamp. In the winter, more than 10,000 geese and ducks use the wetlands during seasonal migrations. Hunters, fishermen, hikers, campers, or nature lovers enjoy the area for its many kinds of wildlife, including turtles to coyotes. Bigfoot is known to live in the Sloughs WMA near Geneva, and in the Ash Flats area of Hebbardsville. As seen on The History Channel's Monster Quest.
- Central Park
Henderson is part of the Evansville media market, the 101st-largest television market and 161st-largest radio market in the United States. WSON (860-AM) is the only locally owned radio station broadcasting from the city. Stations from Owensboro and Madisonville are also available. Some can hear stations from Fort Campbell, Clarksville and Paducah as well.
Notable natives 
- Mary Willie Arvin, decorated World War I nurse
- John James Audubon, ornithologist (spent several years in Henderson in the 1810s)
- Sam Ball, Former NFL player
- Stephen Bardo, former NBA player
- John J. Becker, composer
- Junius Bibbs, winner of three Negro Leagues championships as a member of the Kansas City Monarchs, born in Henderson
- John Young Brown, U.S. Representative, Governor of Kentucky
- Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler, U.S. Senator, Governor of Kentucky, Commissioner of Major League Baseball
- James Franklin Clay, former member, United States House of Representatives
- Ingram Crockett, poet and journalist
- Teddy Darby, blues musician
- John Lloyd Dorsey, Jr., former member, United States House of Representatives
- Mary Ann Fisher African-American Jazz singer of, the Ray Charles group, The Raelettes
- Joey Goebel, author
- J. Bennett Guess, Executive Minister, United Church of Christ
- Gregg Hale, film producer, Blair Witch Project
- W.C. Handy, African-American Blues legend (spent about a decade in Henderson)
- Rosa Henderson, American Jazz and Blues singer
- General Adam "Stovepipe" Johnson, Confederate general during the American Civil War
- Kristen Johnson, former Miss Kentucky USA
- Grandpa Jones, Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones, banjo player, comedian, born in Henderson County
- Kasper from the K, rapper
- Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
- Gail Pettis African-American Jazz singer
- Darrell A. Posey, anthropologist, ethnobiologist
- Lazarus W. Powell, former governor of Kentucky
- Amos G. Rhodes, Atlanta furniture magnate and namesake of Rhodes Hall
- Ann Rutledge, Abraham Lincoln's first love, was born just outside of Henderson
- Augustus O. Stanley, Governor of Kentucky
See also 
- Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival
- Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Bridges
- List of cities and towns along the Ohio River
- John James Audubon State Park and Museum
- Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky
- "Southern Cherokee Nation Website". Retrieved 2007-02-10.
- Rennick, Robert M. (1987). "Kentucky Place Names". University Press of Kentucky. p. 137. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "Cyclone", Henderson History
- "Dry Ohio", Henderson, Kentucky History
- "Flood", Henderson History
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Kentucky Geological Survey". University of Kentucky. Retrieved 2007-02-23.[dead link]
- "Henderson County Schools Website". Retrieved 2007-02-23.
- "Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School Website". Retrieved 2007-02-23.
- "Murray State University Henderson Regional Campus". Murray State University. Retrieved 2007-02-23.
- "Depot Henderson Barbecue Henderson County:". Hendersonkyhistory.com. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
- "Handy Blues & Barbecure Festival Website". Retrieved 2007-02-23.
- "Bluegrass in the Park Website". Retrieved 2007-02-23.
- "John James Audubon State Park". Kentucky Department of Parks. Archived from the original on 2006-12-05. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
- The Gleaner, Official Website
- "Nielsen | What People Watch | What People Buy". Nielsenmedia.com. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
- Market Ranks and Schedule (151-200)[dead link]
Further reading 
- Trafton, Spalding (October 1930). "Silk Culture in Henderson County, Kentucky". Filson Club Historical Quarterly 4 (4). Retrieved 2011-11-29.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Henderson, Kentucky|
- Henderson Community College
- News 25, WEHT-ABC
- Bluegrass Festival Website
- City Government Website
- Downtown Henderson Project
- Henderson Public Library
- Henderson Chamber of Commerce
- Henderson County Tourist Commission
- Henderson Water Utility
- Henderson Municipal Power & Light
- iSurf Henderson[dead link]
- Henderson Quick Facts from the Census Bureau
- The Gleaner Newspaper
- Valley Watch