Population (2000 Census) – 26,307
Government Structure – City Manager
• 4 City Commissioners (2-yr terms)
• Mayor (4-yr term)
Once the hunting grounds of the Chickasaw Indians, Paducah and other parts of western Kentucky were purchased from the Indians by Andrew Jackson in 1818. In 1827, Gen. William Clark, brother of George Rogers Clark, surveyed a new town and named it Paducah in honor of the “Padouca” nation of Indians. Local folklore tells of the legendary Chief Paduke, who symbolizes this great nation. In 1909, American Lorado Taft sculpted a statue of Chief Paduke. This statue currently stands on Jefferson Street, at 19th. Its twin statue can be found in the fountain in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C. In addition, Paducah is the only major city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky with an Indian name.
During the Civil War, Kentucky was an armed but neutral state, although Paducah was the site of a battle in March 1864. Paducah was also the hometown of Irvin S. Cobb, a well-known columnist, writer, radio show host and the first “Duke of Paducah”. Native son Alben W. Barkley served in several political offices before becoming vice president during the Harry S. Truman administration.
The river, always the lifeblood of Paducah, has in the past been a cause of great problems for the city. The 1937 flood covered 90 percent of the town, with the Ohio River reaching a span of seven miles. After that event, a 12.5-mile floodwall was constructed to protect the city.