Lexington, consolidated with Fayette County and often denoted as Lexington-Fayette, is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 60th-largest city in the United States. By land area, Lexington is the 28th largest city in the United States. Known as the "Horse Capital of the World," it is the heart of the state's Bluegrass region. With a mayor-alderman form of government, it is one of two cities in Kentucky designated by the state as first-class; the other is the state's largest city of Louisville.[a] In the 2016 U.S. Census Estimate, the city's population was 318,449, anchoring a metropolitan area of 606,751 people and a combined statistical area of 856,849 people.
Lexington ranks 10th among US cities in college education rate, with 39.5% of residents having at least a bachelor's degree. It is the location of the Kentucky Horse Park, The Red Mile, and Keeneland race courses, Rupp Arena, the world's largest basketball-specific arena, Transylvania University, the University of Kentucky, and Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
This area of fertile soil and abundant wildlife was long occupied by varying tribes of Native Americans. European explorers began to trade with them, but settlers did not come in large numbers until the late 18th century.
Lexington was founded by European Americans in June 1775, in what was then considered Fincastle County, Virginia, 17 years before Kentucky became a state. A party of frontiersmen, led by William McConnell, camped on the Middle Fork of Elkhorn Creek (now known as Town Branch and rerouted under Vine Street) at the site of the present-day McConnell Springs. Upon hearing of the colonists' victory in the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, they named their campsite Lexington. It was the first of many American places to be named after the Massachusetts town. The risk of Native American attacks delayed permanent settlement for four years.
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