In 2001, Danville received a Great American Main Street Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2011, Money magazine placed Danville as the fourth-best place to retire in the United States. Centre College in Danville was selected to host U.S. Vice-Presidential debates in 2000 and 2012.
Within Kentucky, Danville is called the "City of Firsts":
Danville was part of the Great Settlement Area around Harrod's Fort (present-day Harrodsburg), which was first settled in 1774. The site was originally known as Crow's Station for settler John Crow, but the town was surveyed and platted by Walker Daniel, Kentucky's first district attorney, who bought 76 acres (31 ha) near the Wilderness Road from Crow in 1783. The city was named for Daniel. The Virginia legislature officially established Danville on December 4, 1787.
Between 1784 and 1792, ten conventions were held in Danville to petition for better governance and ultimately to secure independence from Virginia. In 1786 the Danville Political Club was organized. It met each Saturday night at Grayson's Tavern to discuss the political, economic, and social concerns of the day. After a state constitution was adopted and separation was confirmed in 1792, the town ceased to be of statewide importance. Its leading citizens moved elsewhere.
The first school in Danville for African-American children was founded around 1840 by Willis Russell, an emancipated slave of Robert Craddock, a Revolutionary War veteran. Craddock deeded a log house in Danville to Russell. He moved to the town after Craddock's death and started a school for children. The house still stands on Walnut Street.
In 1860, a fire devastated the city, destroying 64 buildings and causing more than $300,000 in damages. Boyle County's courthouse was destroyed; its replacement was completed in 1862. After the Union won the Battle of Perryville in the Civil War on October 8, 1862, it appropriated many Danville buildings, including the courthouse, for use as hospitals. On October 11, a Union force drove Confederate forces from the county fairgrounds through Danville.
In 1775, Archibald McNeill planted Kentucky's first recorded hemp crop at Clark's Run Creek near Danville. By 1889 Boyle County was one of the ten Kentucky counties which together produced more than 90% of the US yield. It was the state's largest cash crop until 1915, when it lost its market to imported jute.
From the turn of the 20th century through the 1960s, Danville was home to a thriving African-American business sector located on and around 2nd Street on the western edge of what is now Constitution Square Historic Site. The city demolished this business sector under urban renewal in the 1970s to provide for the expansion of Constitution Square Park.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.9 square miles (41.2 km2), of which 15.8 square miles (41.0 km2) is land and 0.077 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.58%, is water.
Danville, Kentucky Water Tower viewed from the north. Features the motto "Quite Simply the Nicest Town"
Of the 6,405 households, 25.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 33.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.83.
20.8% of the population was under the age of 18, 61.8% from 18 to 64, and 18.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.4 years. Females made up 54.4% and males made up 45.6% of the population aged 18 or older.
As of 2000, the median income for a household was US $32,938, and the median income for a family was $40,528. Males had a median income of $35,327 versus $24,542 for females. The per capita income was $18,906. About 9.4% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.6% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.
FBI crime statistics for 2009 list the crime rate (per 100,000 population) for Danville as follows:
Motor vehicle theft
Danville Schools operates Mary G. Hogsett Primary School, Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School, John W. Bate Middle School, and Danville High School for the city of Danville. Boyle County Schools operates Woodlawn Elementary School, Junction City Elementary School, Perryville Elementary School, Boyle County Middle School, and Boyle County High School for portions of Danville and the remainder of Boyle County. Kentucky School for the Deaf provides education to Kentucky's deaf and hard-of-hearing children from elementary through high school.
Pioneer Playhouse is the oldest outdoor theater in Kentucky, and the first theater officially designated as Kentucky's state theater. It features summer-stock productions using local and nationally known artists.
West T. Hill Community Theatre is a community theater with an acclaimed company of actors.
Gravely Hall Performing Arts Center is located in Danville High School and is home to the performing arts in the Danville Schools system.
The Great American Brass Band Festival (June) is a free, three-day outdoor festival that features performances from brass bands from throughout the country. Other events have joined the festival like picnics, wine festivals, bourbon tastings, and the Great American Balloon Race.
The Boyle County Fair (June) is a fun-filled county fair.