The Watch

Bluegrass Cultural Landscape of Kentucky

Kentucky, United States
Did You Know?
Covering an area of some 3,000 square kilometers, the Bluegrass Region is one of America's most distinctive landscapes.
A Closer Look

Bluegrass Cultural Landscape of Kentucky

Covering an area of some 3,000 square kilometers, the Bluegrass Region is one of America’s most distinctive landscapes. Named for the color of its calcium- and phosphate-enriched grass, the region was settled by Europeans in the 1780s. By the mid-nineteenth century, agrarian-based industries such as tobacco farming and bourbon distillation sprang up there, along with breeding and racing of prized horses.

In recent decades, the region has witnessed rapid suburbanization through unregulated development. Between 1997 and 2002, more than 300 square kilometers of Bluegrass land were appropriated for other uses, compromising the region’s distinct sense of place and undermining traditional industries such as horse breeding and farming, and endangering historic structures associated with the landscape.

Since the Watch

In 2007 an exhibition titled The Vanishing Bluegrass took place in the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, addressing the issues of land conservation and regional planning. The exhibition was organized by the University of Kentucky College of Design, in collaboration with other groups that had helped nominate the site to the Watch. Drawings about the meaning of the Bluegrass, created by schoolchildren in central Kentucky, were also exhibited. Last update: December 2010

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