The combination of southern charm and hospitality that originated with Paducah’s founding in 1827 is still alive and well in the river city today. Blending a rich history with a stable economy, healthy business climate, and outstanding schools and neighborhoods, Paducah is an excellent place to raise a family or start a business.
Located at the junction of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, Paducah comprises a 15-county region encompassing 4,396 square miles and is home to more than 250,000 people. It is the 78th-largest media market in the United States.
Paducah not only has a booming business climate, but also boasts a thriving arts community. From theaters and museums to parks and sporting events, visitors and residents to the city will never be bored with the smorgasbord of offerings. The National Quilt Museum, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011, is dedicated to the accomplishments of today’s quilters and draws large crowds of devotees and visitors from around the world each year, especially during the annual AQS National Quilt Show, held in April. With more than 150 quilts on display, the museum is the largest of its kind.
In addition, year-round performances by the Paducah Symphony and Market House Theatre entertain visitors and residents. Paducah is extremely proud of its floodwall, which offers a visual account of the city’s history through beautiful murals painted by renowned artist Robert Dafford.
The Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center, a 94,400-square-foot facility surpasses any existing entertainment venue in the area. The center features Broadway touring shows, as well as nationally and internationally known blues, jazz, bluegrass, gospel, pop, and rock artists.
Those with a love for the outdoors will appreciate Paducah’s excellent location. Three state parks—Kenlake State Resort Park, Kentucky Dam Village, and Lake Barkley State Resort Park—all are within a 45-minute drive of Paducah, and all offer scenic shores, challenging golf courses, beach areas, and fully equipped marinas.
Education is also top-notch in Paducah. Public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the area provide a multitude of quality educational opportunities to secure a bright future for students who will eventually enter all sectors of the workforce.
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Shining as a bright star on the river, Paducah has continued to flourish since its birth by providing residents and newcomers with a friendly, welcoming community with all the amenities of a larger city.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Paducah, Kentucky, the world’s seventh City of Crafts & Folk Art for the City’s important role in the connectivity of cultures through creativity, particularly quilting.
Paducah joined Santa Fe (New Mexico), Aswan (Egypt), Kanazawa (Japan), Icheon (South Korea), Hangzhou (China) and Fabriano (Italy), as Cities of Crafts & Folk Art in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on November 20, 2013. The designation was the culmination of a five-year application process led by the Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) to leverage the destination’s assets to impact local economic, social and cultural development.
Read Paducah's 2015 UNESCO Annual Report to discover a Creative City on the move.
On October 19, 1818, Andrew Jackson and Governor Isaac Shelby of Kentucky, commissioned by the U.S. government, purchased Paducah and other sections of western Kentucky from the Chickasaw Indians. This purchase was confirmed by President James Monroe and ratified by the United States on January 7, 1819. After the purchase, famed explorer General William Clark plotted out a town on the original site of the Pekin village in 1827, at the northernmost point of what is now the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the junction of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers. Clark renamed the town Paducah, in honor of Padouca Indian Nation. Paducah then became the only major Kentucky city with an Indian name, an attribute that still holds true.
According to historians, the Chickasaw Indians left this area after the Jackson purchase, moving to Mississippi. However, while traveling back to Paducah to pay homage to Clark, Chief Paduke contracted malaria and died. His remains were returned to Pekin. In 1909, the Daughters of the American Revolution commissioned American artist Lorado Taft to sculpt a likeness of Chief Paduke. Today, the chief’s statue stands as a sentinel at 19th and Jefferson streets.
A stroll down Paducah’s historic riverfront provides a pictorial history of Paducah, as renowned artist Robert Dafford has captured the city’s rich history among the floodwall murals of Paducah’s riverfront. Located in the heart of downtown, these floodwall murals are a must-see for any visitor or newcomer.
Other Historical Facts about Paducah
- Irvin S. Cobb, well-known columnist, writer, radio show host, and the first Duke of Paducah, was born here. Cobb once said, “I would rather be born a homeless orphan in Paducah than duly certified twins anywhere else on earth.” His tombstone in Paducah’s Oak Grove Cemetery reads “back home.”
- Native son Alben W. Barkley served in several political offices before becoming vice president during the Harry S. Truman administration.
- Paducah was incorporated in 1830.
- Many firsts occurred in 1830: The Exchange Bank of Paducah opened; a ferry service crossed the Ohio River; the fire department and board of health were established; and a wharf was constructed.
- The first Market House to facilitate trade was built in 1836. Each person could only purchase enough produce for one family.
- Paducah is the largest city in McCracken County and in the surrounding 15-county region.
For more tourist information, contact the Paducah/McCracken Co. Convention & Visitor's Bureau