is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky and the county seat of Daviess County. It is located on U.S. Route 60 about 32 miles southeast of Evansville, Indiana and is the principal city of the Owensboro, Kentucky Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 55,398 at the 2007 U.S. Census Estimate. The city was named after Colonel Abraham Owen. Owensboro is the second-largest city in the Tri-State region of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky after Evansville, Indiana.
Owensboro was first settled in the 1790s by frontiersman William "Bill" Smeathers, for whom the riverfront park is named. A Kentucky Historical Marker # 744 was erected in his honor at the park. The settlement was called Yellow Banks, an allusion to the color of the banks of the Ohio River. In 1817, Yellow Banks was incorporated as a city under the name Owensborough, named after Colonel Abraham Owen. He was also the namesake of Owen County, Kentucky. In 1893, the spelling of the name was shortened to its current Owensboro.
Frederick Ames came to Owensboro from Washington, Pennsylvania in 1887. He started the Carriage Woodstock Company to repair horse-drawn carriages. In 1910 he began to manufacture a line of automobiles under the Ames brand name. Ames hired industrialist Vincent Bendix in 1912, and the company became the Ames Motor Car Company.
Despite its product being called the "best $1500" car by a Texas car dealer, the company ceased production of its own model in 1915. The company then began manufacturing replacement bodies for the more widely sold Ford Model T. In 1922, the company again remade itself and started to manufacture furniture under the name Ames Corporation. The company finally sold out to Whitehall Furniture in 1970.
On August 14, 1936, downtown Owensboro was the site of the last public hanging in the United States. Rainey Bethea was executed for the rape and murder of 70-year-old Lischa Edwards.
In 1937, Pope Pius XI established the Roman Catholic diocese of Owensboro, which spans approximately the western third of the state. It includes thirty-two counties and covers approximately 12,500 square miles.
In 1961, engineers at the General Electric plant in Owensboro introduced a family of vacuum tubes called the Compactron.