The main campus at the University of Louisville is known as the Belknap Campus. While the University of Louisville (also commonly referred to as U of L) is a 20,000 student public institution of higher learning that was established in 1798 the main campus of today was not acquired until sometime later in 1923.
Whereas many colleges and universities share names with the states they reside in (University of Kentucky, University of Kansas, etc.) the University of Louisville is part of a much smaller subset that takes its name from the city the school is housed in. While there are a handful of universities with titles tied to the cities these schools are connected to most are private institutions (University of Miami, Saint Louis University, etc.). The University of Louisville has the noteworthy honor of being the first instance of a public university in America being city owned. The historic nature of U of L goes far beyond the conditions surrounding its formation and contains such claims as the first US emergency room (ER), first ambulance service for non-military personnel, and one of the first blood banks in America.
The U of L facilities as they currently exist are divided into three campuses which are known as the (1) Belknap Campus (main campus), (2) Health Sciences Campus (medical campus), and (3) Shelby Campus (currently the night school campus). While each campus contributes to the unique cultural landscape of the university the focus of this article will be contained to discussion of the main campus or Belknap Campus.
If a U of L student asks someone to meet them on campus the odds on favorite spot for that rendezvous is the Belknap Campus where a majority of the academic colleges are housed. The main campus that was interestingly once the spot of an orphanage (many original buildings from the orphanage still stand) is about three miles south of the downtown area of Louisville. Over the past fifteen years projects have consistently been underway to develop and expand the area around the Belknap Campus. This process has predominately been facilitated by the university purchasing land surrounding the main campus with much of that area being made up of abandoned factories.
As time passes the University of Louisville continues to evolve from its humble eighteenth century beginnings. As recently as 2008 85 additional acres off the Belknap Campus were purchased with preliminary plans earmarking the land for student housing, parking, and conversion of historical buildings for practical modern use. With each passing year a group of University of Louisville students say goodbye to the Belknap Campus and a new batch of wide eyed freshmen arrive to the spot where they will form lifetime lasting memories.
Rick had the good fortune of visiting a friend at the University of Louisville a few years back and staying at one of the very housing complexes mentioned in this article. Rick’s pal that remains a close friend to this day was notorious for plastering University of Louisville wallpaper on the desktop background of every computer he ever owned.