Frankfort is a city in Kentucky that serves as the state capital and the county seat of Franklin County. The population was 25,527 at the 2010 census; by population it is the 5th smallest state capital in the United States. Located on the Kentucky River, Frankfort is the principal city of the Frankfort, Kentucky Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Franklin and Anderson counties.
The town of Frankfort likely received its name from an event that took place in 1780s. Native Americans attacked a group of early British-American pioneers from Bryan's Station, who were making salt at a ford in the Kentucky River. After the pioneer Stephen Frank was killed, the settlers called the crossing "Frank’s Ford." This name was later shortened to Frankfort.
In 1786 James Wilkinson purchased the tract of land on the north side of the Kentucky River, which developed as downtown Frankfort. He was an early promoter of Frankfort as the state capital.
After Kentucky became a state, five commissioners were appointed on June 20, 1792, to choose a location for the capital. They were John Allen and John Edwards (both from Bourbon County), Henry Lee (Mason County), Thomas Kennedy (Madison County), and Robert Todd (Fayette County). A number of communities competed for this honor, but Frankfort won. According to early histories, the offer of Andrew Holmes' log house as capitol for seven years, a number of town lots, £50 worth of locks and hinges, 10 boxes of glass, 1,500 pounds of nails, and $3,000 in gold helped the decision go to Frankfort.
Frankfort had a post office by 1794, with Daniel Weisiger as postmaster.
John Brown, a Virginia lawyer and statesman, built a home, now called Liberty Hall, in Frankfort in 1796. Before statehood he represented Virginia in the Continental Congress (1777–78) and the U.S. Congress (1789–91). While in Congress he introduced the bill granting statehood to Kentucky. Once that was accomplished, he was elected a U.S. Senator for Kentucky.
The Kentucky General Assembly appropriated funds to provide a house to accommodate the governor in 1796. Construction was completed in 1798. The Old Governor's Mansion is reputed to be the oldest official executive residence still in use in the United States. In 1829 the Old Capitol, the third Capitol of Kentucky, was built in the Greek Revival style, designed by Gideon Shryock. The building served Kentucky as its Capitol from 1830 until 1910.
On February 3, 1900 Governor-elect William Goebel was assassinated in Frankfort while walking to the capitol to be inaugurated. Former Secretary of State Caleb Powers was later found guilty in a conspiracy to kill Goebel.
The city has grown considerably since the 1960s. A modern addition to the State Office Building was completed in 1967. The original building was completed in the 1930s on the location of the former Kentucky State Penitentiary. Some of the stone from the old prison was used for the walls surrounding the office building.
Capitol Plaza was established in the 1960s. It comprises the Capitol Plaza Office Tower, the tallest building in the city, the Capitol Plaza Hotel (formerly the Holiday Inn, Frankfort), and the Fountain Place Shoppes. The Capital Plaza Office Tower opened in 1968 and has become a visual landmark for the center of the city. In August 2008, capital officials announced a plan to demolish the Tower and redevelop the area over a period of years. They intended to replace the outdated Tower with a smaller, four- or five-story building for a more pedestrian-oriented scale at the complex.