6 Fun Facts About Florence, Kentucky

July 09, 2020 8 Comments

Florence, Kentucky welcome sign

At just over 10 square miles, Florence, Kentucky, is a little city with a lot going on. Here are six fun facts about this lively community.

1. It had 3 names before it became Florence

At first, it was named Crossroads, somewhat ironically, as a mega-church with that same name now sits along I-75 in the city, just down the road from the mall. Back in the early 1800s, it was called Crossroads because of the many roads that intersect there, one of which eventually became the Dixie Highway (US 25). 

In the 1820s, folks were calling the area Maddentown, after Covington attorney Thomas Madden, who owned a large farm on Burlington Pike. Madden moved out of the area in 1825, and three years later, in 1828, it became Connersville named after Jacob Conner, another local landowner. That same year, the town was granted a post office but was told the name would have to be changed as there was already a Connersville in Harrison County. 

The Post Office Department offered two alternate names, one of which was Florence. It is not known what the other choice was. However, from that point on, the town was known as Florence. 

2. The Florence Y’all tower is a nationally-known landmark

Widely recognized by folks in Greater Cincinnati, the Florence Y’all water tower is a nationally recognized landmark along I-75, one of the busiest highways in America. 

It originally had Florence “Mall” painted on it in 1976 in honor of the shopping center under construction at the time. However, highway regulations forbade putting the name of a commercial property on a public structure, so city officials had to do some quick thinking to make a change that would not cost a lot of money. You can read the whole story HERE.

3. It was one of the fastest-growing Cincinnati suburbs in the 1960s 

It’s hard to believe now, but at one time, Florence was shrinking. In 1877, the Cincinnati Railroad bypassed the town in favor of neighboring Erlanger. The decline leveled off, but growth wasn’t experienced until after World War II when it exploded. 

Indeed, between 1950 and 1960, the town’s population grew by over 300%. Between 1960 and 1970 it grew by another 100%. Just after the war, about 1,000 people lived in Florence. By 1970, almost 12,000 people called the city home.

More homes meant more businesses, like the aforementioned Florence Mall, which led to more stores, restaurants, and shopping centers cropping up in the city. It helped that, unlike the railroad of 1877, Interstate I-75 came right through Florence, making it easily accessible from Covington and Cincinnati for shoppers. Today, it’s the second-largest city in the three counties that make up Northern Kentucky.

4. It has a pro baseball team

Since 2003, Florence has had a pro, minor league baseball team in the independent Frontier League. Originally called the Freedom, in 2019 the team changed its name to the Y’alls after town's most famous landmark (see above).  

The club was founded as the Erie (PA) Sailors in 1994. A year later, they were the Johnstown Steals, before changing their nickname to the Johnnies. After the 2003 season, the team moved to Kentucky but had to play its home games up I-75 in Hamilton, Ohio, while a stadium was built in Florence. In 2004, the team moved into Champion Window Field, now known as UC Health Stadium.

5. It has had some famous residents

Former Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander hails from Florence and attended Boone County High School. After he graduated from Alabama University, he played eight seasons for the Seahawks and one for Washington’s NFL team. His best year as a pro was 2005 when he rushed for 1,880 yards and scored a whopping 27 touchdowns on the ground while adding on one more through the air.

Florence was also the hometown of singer/songwriter Kenny Price, who began his country music career in 1964. Through 1980, he had 34 singles hit the country music chart, including four top-ten hits. One of those chart-toppers, "The Sheriff of Boone County," also became a hit on the pop singles chart, hitting #10 in 1971. Price was also a regular on the variety series Hee Haw from 1976 until he died in 1987.

6. It was the site of a Civil War battle

On September 17, 1862, a clash between Union and Confederate forces occurred on the streets of Florence. The Confederate forces, under the command of General Henry Heth, had come north from Lexington, threatening nearby Cincinnati. Union troops prepared for an attack by building forts around Covington as well as patrolling the Lexington Pike for Confederates troops. When a detachment of 101 Confederates, who had been camping at nearby Snow’s Pond, was spotted by a Union soldiers at the main intersection in town, a skirmish took place. The attack resulted in one Union and five Confederate casualties. One civilian was killed by a stray bullet. The Confederates eventually withdrew to Lexington and then left the state after the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862.

Photo: Sixflashphoto via Wiki Commons










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