Oldham County is the wealthiest county in Kentucky and 48th wealthiest county in the U.S. and ranks second highest in Kentucky for percent of college educated residences. While the causes for this are complicated, areas east of Louisville have long been popular with wealthy residents, first as summer residences eventually as year-round suburban estates and bedroom communities. Oldham County lies northeast of the best known of these areas, but is still a part of Louisville's East End and a location of choice for Louisvillians who can afford it.
Oldham County (see complete Oldham Resource ) was established on December 15, 1823 from parts of Henry, Jefferson, and Shelby Counties. It was the 74th Kentucky county, and was named in honor of Col. William Oldham of Jefferson County, an Revolutionary War officer.
Initially, it was mainly a rural country with small, scattered developments in places like Westport which was founded in 1800 and served as the county seat early on. When the Louisville and Frankfort Railroad Company introduced rail lines in the area in the 1850s, many new towns and communities sprang up. Eventually the railroad ceased operating as a form of public transportation, but the more rural nature of the county continued to draw residents away from the metropolitan areas in Jefferson County. Since the early 1970s and the completion of Interstate 71, which connects Oldham County to Downtown Louisville and shopping in Eastern Jefferson County, Oldham County has increasingly become suburban in nature, a natural extension of Louisville's wealthy East End as it ran out of large tracts of undeveloped land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 46,178 people, 14,856 households, and 12,196 families residing in the county. The population density was 244 people per square mile (94/km²). There were 15,541 housing units at an average density of 82 per square mile (32/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.62% White, 4.21% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.55% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. 1.30% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 14,856 households out of which 44.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 71.50% were married couples living together, 7.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.90% were non-families. 14.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.85 and the average family size was 3.17.
The age distribution was 27.40% under the age of 18, 6.90% from 18 to 24, 33.10% from 25 to 44, 25.60% from 45 to 64, and 7.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 114.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 117.90 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $70,171 (2005), and the median income for a family was $70,495. Males had a median income of $46,962 versus $28,985 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,374. About 2.90% of families and 4.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.50% of those under age 18 and 6.00% of those age 65 or over. Oldham County is the most affluent county in the state of Kentucky; most residents work in Louisville and choose to live in Oldham County due to the lack of crime and the nationally recognized school system. The school system was awarded a blue seal for its efforts in the late 90's, but more recently has fallen with the swelling population, and diminishing teacher to student ratios. 2006 classes at Oldham County High School were reported as 1-15, but that number does not accurately reflect the ratio of a normal class. That number includes, e.g., the small classes of 5-6 students in Behavioral Disorders. The published ratio also includes small classes at the County Career Center, which is located on the same campus. The actual teacher-student ratios are closer to 1-30. Drugs have recently become a problem for the school system, and has required the Bucker Alternative High School to move into a larger building.