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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Consolidated city-parish
City of Baton Rouge
From top clockwise: the Horace Wilkinson Bridge spanning across the Mississippi River, Tiger Stadium during an LSU football game, the Shaw Center for the Arts on Lafayette Street, an aerial view of Louisiana State University, the Huey P. Long Memorial in the State Capitol Gardens, the Varsity Theatre near LSU, and the Louisiana State Capitol in downtown Baton Rouge.
From top clockwise: the Horace Wilkinson Bridge spanning across the Mississippi River, Tiger Stadium during an LSU football game, the Shaw Center for the Arts on Lafayette Street, an aerial view of Louisiana State University, the Huey P. Long Memorial in the State Capitol Gardens, the Varsity Theatre near LSU, and the Louisiana State Capitol in downtown Baton Rouge.
Flag of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Flag
Official seal of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Seal
Nickname(s): Red Stick, The Capital City, B.R.
Location in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana and the state of Louisiana
Location in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana and the state of Louisiana
Country  United States
State  Louisiana
Parish East Baton Rouge Parish
Founded 1699
Settled 1719
Incorporated January 16, 1817
Area
 • Land 76.95 sq mi (199.29 km2)
 • Water 2.16 sq mi (5.59 km2)
 • Total 79.11 sq mi (204.89 km2)
Elevation 56 ft (17 m)
Population (2010) 229,493
 • Estimate (2015) 228,590
 • Rank US: 97th
 • Density 2,975/sq mi (1,148.5/km2)
 • Urban 594,309 (US: 68th)
 • Metro 830,480 (US: 70th)
Demonym(s) Baton Rougean
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 70801, 70802, 70803, 70804, 70805, 70806, 70807, 70808, 70809, 70810, 70811, 70812, 70813, 70814, 70815, 70816, 70817, 70819, 70820, 70821, 70822, 70823, 70825, 70826, 70827, 70831, 70833, 70835, 70836, 70837, 70874, 70879, 70883, 70884, 70892, 70893, 70894, 70895, 70896, 70898
Area code(s) 225
Website www.brgov.com

Baton Rouge (/ˌbætən ˈrʒ/ BAT-ən ROOZH; French for "Red Stick", French: Bâton-Rouge [bɑtɔ̃ ʁuʒ]  ( listen)) is the capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana and its second-largest city. It forms the parish seat of East Baton Rouge Parish and is located on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River.

As the "Capital City", Baton Rouge is the political hub for Louisiana, and is the second-largest city in the state after New Orleans, with an estimated population of 228,590 in 2015. The metropolitan area surrounding the city, known as Greater Baton Rouge, is also the second-largest in Louisiana, with a population of 830,480 people as of 2015. The urban area has around 594,309 inhabitants.

Baton Rouge is a major industrial, petrochemical, medical, research, motion picture, and growing technology center of the American South. The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is the tenth largest in the United States in terms of tonnage shipped, and is the farthest upstream Mississippi River port capable of handling Panamax ships.

The Baton Rouge area owes its historical importance to its strategic site upon the Istrouma Bluff, the first natural bluff upriver from the Mississippi River Delta. This allowed development of a business quarter safe from seasonal flooding. In addition, the city built a levee system stretching from the bluff southward to protect the riverfront and low-lying agricultural areas. The city is a culturally rich center, with settlement by immigrants from numerous European nations and African peoples. It was ruled by seven different governments: French, British, and Spanish in the colonial era, West Floridian, United States territory and state, Confederate, and United States again.

History

Prehistory

Human habitation in the Baton Rouge area has been dated to 12000 – 6500 BC based on evidence found along the Mississippi, Comite, and Amite rivers. Earthwork mounds were built by hunter-gatherer societies in the Middle Archaic period, from roughly the 4th millennium BC. Proto-Muskogean divided into its daughter languages by about 1000 BC; a cultural boundary between either side of Mobile Bay and the Black Warrior River begins to appear between about 1200 BC and 500 BC, the Middle "Gulf Formational Stage". Eastern Muskogean began to diversify internally in the first half of the 1st millennium AD.

The early Muskogean nations were the bearers of the Mississippian culture, which formed around AD 800 and extended in a vast network across the Mississippi and Ohio valleys, with numerous chiefdoms in the Southeast as well. By the time the Spanish made their first forays inland from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in the early 16th century, many political centers of the Mississippians were already in decline, or abandoned. At the time, the region appeared to be occupied by a collection of moderately-sized native chiefdoms interspersed with autonomous villages and tribal groups.

Colonial period

Further information: Louisiana (New France)
Pierre Le Moyne Iberville
Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, named Baton Rouge and lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas in the early French colonial era.

French explorer Sieur d'Iberville led an exploration party up the Mississippi River in 1699. The explorers saw a red pole marking the boundary between the Houma and Bayogoula tribal hunting grounds. The French name le bâton rouge ("the red stick") is the translation of a native term rendered as Istrouma, possibly a corruption of the Choctaw iti humma ("red pole"); André-Joseph Pénicaut, a carpenter traveling with d'Iberville, published the first full-length account of the expedition in 1723. According to Pénicaut,

From there [Manchacq] we went five leagues higher and found very high banks called écorts in that region, and in savage called Istrouma which means red stick [bâton rouge], as at this place there is a post painted red that the savages have sunk there to mark the land line between the two nations, namely: the land of the Bayagoulas which they were leaving and the land of another nation—thirty leagues upstream from the baton rouge—named the Oumas.

See also Red Sticks for the ceremonial use of red sticks among the Muscogee.

The location of the red pole was presumably at Scott's Bluff, on what is now the campus of Southern University. It was reportedly a 30-foot-high (9.1 m) painted pole adorned with fish bones.

The settlement of Baton Rouge by Europeans began in 1721 when a military post was established by French colonists. Since European settlement, Baton Rouge has been governed by France, Britain, Spain, Louisiana, the Republic of West Florida, the Confederate States, and the United States. In 1755, when French-speaking settlers of Acadia in Canada's Maritime provinces were driven into exile by British forces, many took up residence in rural Louisiana. Popularly known as Cajuns, the descendants of the Acadians maintained a separate culture. During the first half of the 19th century, the city grew steadily as the result of steamboat trade and transportation.

Modern history

Old state capitol 2
Old Louisiana State Capitol

Baton Rouge was incorporated in 1817. In 1822, the Pentagon Barracks complex of buildings was completed. The site has been used by the Spanish, French, British, Confederate States Army, and United States Army and was part of the short-lived Republic of West Florida. In 1951, ownership of the barracks was transferred to the State of Louisiana, and in 1976 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1846, the state legislature designated Baton Rouge Louisiana's new capital to replace "sinful" New Orleans. The architect James Dakin was hired to design the Capitol building in Baton Rouge, with construction beginning in late 1847. Rather than mimic the federal Capitol in Washington, as many other states had done, he designed a capitol in Neo-Gothic, complete with turrets and crenellations, and stained glass, which overlooks the Mississippi. It has been described as the "most distinguished example of Gothic Revival" architecture in the state and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Old baton rouge
Map of Baton Rouge in 1863

By the outbreak of the Civil War, the population of Baton Rouge was nearly 5,500. The war nearly halted economic progress, except for businesses associated with supplying the Union Army occupation of the city beginning in the spring of 1862. The Confederates at first consolidated their forces elsewhere, during which time the state government was moved to Opelousas and later Shreveport. In the summer of 1862, about 2,600 Confederate troops under generals John C. Breckinridge (the former Vice President of the United States) and Daniel Ruggles tried in vain to recapture Baton Rouge.

After the war, New Orleans served as the seat of the Reconstruction Era state government. When the Bourbon Democrats regained power in 1882, they returned the state government to Baton Rouge, where it has since remained. In his 1893 guidebook, Karl Baedeker described Baton Rouge as "the Capital of Louisiana, a quaint old place with 10,378 inhabitants, on a bluff above the Mississippi."

In the 1950s and 1960s, Baton Rouge experienced a boom in the petrochemical industry, causing the city to expand away from the original center.

A building boom that began in the 1990s continued into the 2000s, during which Baton Rouge was one of the fastest-growing cities in the South in terms of technology, and Metropolitan Baton Rouge was one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the U.S. (under 1 million), with 602,894 in 2000 and 802,484 people as of the 2010 census. Baton Rouge's population temporarily surged after Hurricane Katrina (2005), as it accepted as many as 200,000 displaced residents.

July 5, 2016 saw the shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man, by police officers. This was followed by civil rights protests and unrest. On July 17, Gavin Eugene Long shot six police officers resulting in three deaths.

Geography and climate

Aerial of Baton Rouge, LA from ISS 2011
Baton Rouge as viewed from the International Space Station in May 2011, looking west.

Baton Rouge is located on the banks of the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 79.1 square miles (204.9 km2), of which 76.8 square miles (198.9 km2) is land and 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2) (2.81%) is water.

The city is located on the first set of bluffs north of the Mississippi River Delta's coastal plains. Because of its prominent location along the river and on the bluffs, which prevents flooding, the French built a fort in the city in 1719.

Baton Rouge is the third southmost capital city in the continental United States, after Austin, Texas, and Tallahassee, Florida.

Tallest buildings

BatonRougeAerial-Dec2012
Downtown Baton Rouge
Downtown Baton Rouge from Louisiana State Capitol
Downtown Baton Rouge from the observation deck of the Louisiana State Capitol
BR Twin Towers 2
JP Morgan Chase Building and Riverside Tower

Baton Rouge's tallest buildings are:

Name Stories Height
Louisiana State Capitol (Capitol Park; tallest state capitol building in the U.S.) 34 450 ft (137 m)
One American Place 24 310 ft (94 m)
JPMorgan Chase Tower (Chase) 21 277 ft (84 m)
Riverside Tower North (Chase) 20 229 ft (70 m)
Marriott Hotel Baton Rouge 22 224 ft (68 m)
Mid-City Tower 14 173 ft (53 m)

Neighborhoods

Baton Rouge has many neighborhoods both inside and outside the city limits:

Lsuhouses
Houses in the University Lakes neighborhood
  • Arbor Walk
  • Banks
  • Beechwood
  • Belfair
  • Beauregard Town
  • Bird Station (Old)
  • Bird Station (New)
  • Bocage
  • The Bottom
  • Broadmoor
  • Brookstown
  • Brownfields
  • Camelot
  • Capital Heights
  • Cedarcrest
  • Centurion Place
  • Concord
  • Country Club of Louisiana
  • Dixie
  • Eden Park
  • Easytown
  • Fairfields
  • Froggy Mo
  • Gardere
  • Garden District
  • Goodwood
  • Glen Oaks
  • Ghosttown
  • Greendale
  • Inniswold
  • Hickory Ridge
  • Jefferson Terrace
  • Kenilworth
  • Lake Beau Pré
  • Lakes at Highland
  • Mall City
  • Magnolia Woods
  • Mayfair
  • Mcdonald land
  • Melrose Place
  • Merrydale
  • Mid-City
  • Millerville
  • Monticello
  • North Gate
  • North Sherwood
  • Northdale
  • Oak Hills Place
  • Ogden Park
  • Old Hermitage
  • Old Jefferson
  • Orleans Place
  • Parkview Oaks
  • Parktown
  • Pelican Bay
  • Pollard Estates
  • Riverbend
  • Riverdale
  • River Oaks
  • River Oaks East
  • Santa Maria
  • Scotlandville
  • Shenandoah
  • Sherwood Forest
  • South Baton Rouge
  • Southdowns
  • Southern Heights
  • Spanish Town
  • Stratford Place
  • Tara
  • Tigerland
  • The Avenue's
  • The Field
  • The Lake
  • The Maryland
  • University Acres
  • University Club
  • University Gardens
  • University Hills
  • University Lakes
  • Valley Park
  • Victoria Gardens
  • Villa Del Rey
  • Village St. George
  • Wedgewood
  • Westdale Heights
  • Westminster
  • White Oak Landing
  • Woodgate
  • Woodlands
  • Woodlawn Estates
  • Woodstone
  • Zion City

Climate

Baton Rouge has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with mild winters, hot and humid summers, moderate to heavy rainfall, and the possibility of damaging winds and tornadoes yearlong. The area's average precipitation is 55.55 inches (1,411 mm) of rain and 0.1 inches (0.25 cm) inches of snow annually. With ample precipitation, Baton Rouge is fifth on the list of wettest cities in the United States. Snow in the Baton Rouge area is usually rare, although it snowed in three consecutive years recently: on December 11, 2008, on December 4, 2009 and on February 12, 2010.

The yearly average temperature for Baton Rouge is 67.5 °F (19.7 °C) while the average temperature for January is 51.21 °F (10.67 °C) and August is 80.54 °F (26.97 °C). The area is usually free from extremes in temperature with some cold winter fronts but those are usually brief.

Baton Rouge's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico exposes the metropolitan region to hurricanes. On September 1, 2008, Hurricane Gustav struck the city and would become the worst hurricane ever to hit the Baton Rouge area. Winds topped 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), knocking down trees and powerlines and making roads impassable. The roofs of many buildings suffered tree damage, especially in the Highland Road, Garden District, and Goodwood areas. The city was shut down for five days and a curfew was put in effect. Rooftop shingles were ripped off, signs blown down, and minor structural damage occurred.

Climate data for Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Metropolitan Airport), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 85
(29.4)
88
(31.1)
93
(33.9)
96
(35.6)
101
(38.3)
103
(39.4)
103
(39.4)
110
(43.3)
104
(40)
98
(36.7)
89
(31.7)
88
(31.1)
110
(43.3)
Average high °F (°C) 62.3
(16.83)
65.7
(18.72)
72.7
(22.61)
79.3
(26.28)
86.2
(30.11)
90.9
(32.72)
92.2
(33.44)
92.5
(33.61)
88.7
(31.5)
80.8
(27.11)
71.9
(22.17)
64.1
(17.83)
78.9
(26.06)
Daily mean °F (°C) 51.7
(10.94)
55.1
(12.83)
61.5
(16.39)
68.1
(20.06)
75.7
(24.28)
81.1
(27.28)
83.0
(28.33)
82.9
(28.28)
78.6
(25.89)
69.3
(20.72)
60.4
(15.78)
53.4
(11.89)
68.4
(20.22)
Average low °F (°C) 41.2
(5.11)
44.5
(6.94)
50.3
(10.17)
56.8
(13.78)
65.2
(18.44)
71.4
(21.89)
73.7
(23.17)
73.4
(23)
68.5
(20.28)
57.9
(14.39)
48.9
(9.39)
42.7
(5.94)
57.9
(14.39)
Record low °F (°C) 9
(-12.8)
2
(-16.7)
20
(-6.7)
31
(-0.6)
40
(4.4)
53
(11.7)
58
(14.4)
58
(14.4)
43
(6.1)
30
(-1.1)
21
(-6.1)
8
(-13.3)
2
(-16.7)
Precipitation inches (mm) 5.72
(145.3)
5.04
(128)
4.41
(112)
4.46
(113.3)
4.89
(124.2)
6.41
(162.8)
4.96
(126)
5.82
(147.8)
4.54
(115.3)
4.70
(119.4)
4.10
(104.1)
5.60
(142.2)
60.65
(1,540.5)
Snowfall inches (cm) 0
(0)
0.2
(0.5)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.2
(0.5)
Humidity 62 75 73 73.5 74 75 76 78 77.5 75 72.7 73.5 76.5
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.9 8.8 8.3 7.5 7.9 12.1 12.9 11.8 8.5 7.5 8.5 9.1 112.8
Source: NOAA The Weather Channel (record temperatures)

National protected areas

  • Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
  • Baton Rouge National Cemetery
  • Independence Park Botanic Gardens
  • Laurens Henry Cohn, Sr. Memorial Plant Arboretum
  • LSU Hilltop Arboretum
  • Magnolia Cemetery
  • Port Hudson National Cemetery

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 469
1840 2,269
1850 3,905 72.1%
1860 5,428 39.0%
1870 6,498 19.7%
1880 7,197 10.8%
1890 10,478 45.6%
1900 11,269 7.5%
1910 14,897 32.2%
1920 21,782 46.2%
1930 30,729 41.1%
1940 34,719 13.0%
1950 125,629 261.8%
1960 152,419 21.3%
1970 165,921 8.9%
1980 220,394 32.8%
1990 219,531 −0.4%
2000 227,818 3.8%
2010 229,493 0.7%
Est. 2015 228,590 −0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
2013 Estimate

As of the census of 2010, there were 229,553 people; per the 2010 census, 88,973 households, and 52,672 families residing in the city. The 2000 population density was 2,964.8 people per square mile (1,144.7/km²). There were 97,388 housing units at an average density of 1,267.3 per square mile (489.4/km²). According to the 2010 the racial makeup of the city was 50.4% Black or African American, 40.8% White, 0.5% Native American, 3.5% Asian, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino were 3.5% of the population. Non-Hispanic Whites were 37.8% of the population, down from 70.5% in 1970.

Race and ethnicity 2010- Baton Rouge (5559862075)
Map of racial distribution in Baton Rouge, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic or Other (yellow)

Of all households, 28.1% had children under the age of 18, 35.8% were married couples living together, 19.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.8% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.12.

In the city, the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 17.5% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,368, and the median income for a family was $40,266. Males had a median income of $34,893 versus $23,115 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,512. About 18.0% of families and 24.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.4% of those under age 18 and 13.8% of those ages 65 or over.

At the 2005–2007 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates, 32.4% of the population had a bachelor's degree or higher.

Culture

Baton Rouge is the middle ground of South Louisiana cultures, having a mix of Cajun and Creole Catholics and Baptists of the Florida Parishes and South Mississippi. Baton Rouge is a college city with Baton Rouge Community College, Louisiana State University, Our Lady of the Lake College, and Southern University whose students make up some 20% of the city population. There is a sizable international population of about 11,300, the largest of which are people of Hispanic or Vietnamese descent. This contributes to Baton Rouge's unique culture and its diversity of heritage.

Rivercenterbr
Baton Rouge River Center in Downtown

Arts and theater

Baton Rouge has an expanding visual arts scene, which is centered downtown. This increasing collection of venues includes the Shaw Center for the Arts. Opened in 2005, this award-winning facility houses the Brunner Gallery, LSU Museum of Art, the Manship Theatre, a contemporary art gallery, traveling exhibits, and several eateries. Another prominent facility is the Louisiana Art and Science Museum (LASM), which contains the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, traveling art exhibits, space displays, and an ancient Egyptian section. Several smaller art galleries, including the Baton Rouge Gallery, offering a range of local art, are scattered throughout the city.

The city has several designated arts and cultural districts, the most prominent of which are the Mid-City Cultural District and the Perkins Road Arts District. These districts provide tax incentives, mostly in the form of exempting state tax on purchases, to promote cultural activity in these areas.

There is also an emerging performing arts scene. LSU's Swine Palace is the foremost theatre company in the city, largely made up of students of LSU's MFA acting program, as well as professional actors and stage managers. There is also a budding group of physical theatre and circus artists at LSU, who most recently traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, in summer 2012 to perform Dante in the world's largest Fringe Festival. The show ran in Baton Rouge before going to Fringe, and featured movement, acrobatics, and aerial silk.

The Baton Rouge Little Theater offers a diverse selection of live theatre performances. Opera Louisiane is Baton Rouge's only professional opera company. The Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre is Baton Rouge's professional dance company. The Nutcracker – A Tale from the Bayou sets the familiar holiday classic in 19th-century Louisiana and has become a Baton Rouge holiday tradition. A Tale from the Bayou features professional dancers, a live orchestra and more than 300 area children.

Performing venues include the Baton Rouge River Center, Baton Rouge River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts, which seats approximately 1,900, the Manship Theatre, which is located in the Shaw Center for the Arts and seats 350, and the Reilly Theater, which is home to Swine Palace, a non-profit professional theater company associated with the Louisiana State University Department of Theatre.

Shawcenterbr
Shaw Center for the Arts in Downtown

The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra has been in service since 1947 and currently performs at the River Center Music Hall downtown. Today, there are over 60 concerts annually performed by the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra directed by Timothy Muffitt and David Torns. The BRSO's educational component, the Louisiana Youth Orchestra, made its debut in 1984 and currently includes almost 180 musicians under the age of 20.

Events

Many events take place throughout the year. Every year Baton Rouge hosts many Mardi Gras parades, the largest one being held in historic Spanish Town. Other festivals include the biannual Restaurant Week, Greater Baton Rouge State Fair, FestforAll, Louisiana Earth Day, Mardi Gras season, the Wearin' of the Green St. Patrick's Day Parade, Bayou Country Superfest, and Red Stick International Animation Festival.

Miss USA pageants

Miss Louisiana Brittany Guidry Miss USA 2014
Miss Louisiana USA Brittany Guidry, Miss USA 2014, Preliminary Evening Gown Competition

In 2014, Baton Rouge was chosen to host the Miss USA Pageant. It took over downtown Baton Rouge as Nia Sanchez, Miss Nevada USA, took home the crown, with Miss Louisiana USA Brittany Guidry coming close to the win with the third runner-up spot and fourth overall. Veteran pageant host Giuliana Rancic and MSNBC news anchor Thomas Roberts introduced the 51 contestants before judges whittled them down to 20 semi-finalists to compete in the swimsuit, evening gown and interview competitions. Cosmo weighed in on the contest, complimenting home state girl Miss Louisiana. "

Baton Rouge hosted Miss USA again on July 12, 2015, won by actress and Miss Oklahoma USA Olivia Jordan.

Libraries

The State Library of Louisiana is in Baton Rouge. The Louisiana Legislature created the Louisiana Library Commission in 1920. This would later become the State Library of Louisiana. The State Library provides Louisiana residents with millions of items with its collections, electronic resources and the statewide network for lending. This allows the library to fulfill all requests from its citizens.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library System has 14 local libraries with one main library and 13 community libraries. The main library at Goodwood houses genealogy and local history archives. The library system is an entity of the city-parish government. The system has been in operation since 1939. It is governed by the EBR Parish government and directed by the Library Board of Control. The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council appoints the seven member board and then the board appoints a Director. According to its website, all branches are open seven days a week to assist the public with everything from reference and information to computer access.

The Louisiana State Archives' Main Research Library is located in Baton Rouge as well. It houses general history books, census indexes, immigration schedules, church records and family histories. The Library also has a computerized database of more than two million names that has various information about these people including census info, marriage info and social security filing info.

Louisiana State University and the Louisiana State University Law Center have libraries on their respective Baton Rouge Campuses.

Southern University and A&M College and the Southern University Law Center have libraries on their respective Baton Rouge Campuses.

Tourism and recreation

See also: Points of Interest of Baton Rouge

There are many architectural points of interest in Baton Rouge, ranging from antebellum to modern. The neo-gothic Old Louisiana State Capitol was built in the 1890s as the first state house in Baton Rouge and was later replaced by the 450 feet (137 m) tall, art-deco New Louisiana State Capitol which was the tallest building in the South when it was completed. Several plantation homes in the area such as Magnolia Mound Plantation House, Myrtles Plantation, and Nottoway Plantation showcase antebellum-era architecture. Louisiana State University has over 250 buildings in Italian Renaissance style, one of the nation's largest college stadiums, and is endowed with many live oaks. Several examples of modern and contemporary buildings are downtown, including the Capitol Park Museum. A number of structures, including the Baton Rouge River Center, Louisiana State Library, LSU Student Union, Louisiana Naval Museum, Bluebonnet Swamp Interpretive Center, Louisiana Arts and Sciences Center, Louisiana State Archive and Research Library, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, were designed by local architect John Desmond. The Pentagon Barracks Museum and Visitors Center is located within the barracks complex and the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad Company Depot, currently houses the Louisiana Art and Science Museum.

USS Kidd (DD-661) Baton Rouge
USS Kidd (DD-661) located downtown on the river. It is part of the Louisiana Naval Museum.

Museums around town offer a variety of genres. The Capitol Park Museum and the Old Louisiana State Capitol Museum display information on state history and have many interactive exhibits. The Shaw Center for the Arts showcases and the Louisiana Art and Science Museum showcase varied arts. LASM also includes science exhibits and a planetarium. Other museums include the LSU Museum of Natural Science and the USS Kidd.

Other attractions include the Mall at Cortana and the Mall of Louisiana (Louisiana's two largest malls) and Perkins Rowe, amusement parks of Dixie Landin'/ Blue Bayou, and dining at the Louisiana-cuisine restaurants.

Parks and recreation

Baton Rouge has an extensive park collection run through BREC (the Recreation & Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge). The largest park is City Park near LSU. The Baton Rouge Zoo is run through BREC and includes 1800+ species.

Transportation

Shipping

The Port of Baton Rouge is the ninth largest in the United States in terms of tonnage shipped, and is the farthest upstream Mississippi River port capable of handling Panamax ships.

Highways and roads

Baton Rouge Bridge
Horace Wilkinson Bridge I-10
HuebridgeBR
Huey P. Long Bridge

Interstates

Baton Rouge has three Interstate highways: I-10, I-12 (Republic of West Florida Parkway), and I-110 (Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway).

Interstate 10 enters the city from the Horace Wilkinson Bridge over the Mississippi River, curving at an interchange with Interstate 110 southeast, crossing the LSU lakes and Garden District before reaching an interchange with I-12 (referred to as the 10/12 split). It curves further southeast, towards New Orleans as is crosses Essen Lane near the Medical District. It passes Bluebonnet Blvd and the Mall of Louisiana at exit 162, and leaves Baton Rouge after interchanges with Siegen Lane and Highland Road.

Interstate 12 (The Republic of West Florida Parkway) begins in the city at the I-10/I-12 split east of College Drive, and goes east from there, crossing Essen Lane, Airline Hwy, Sherwood Forest Blvd, Millerville Road, and O'neal Lane before leaving the city when crossing the Amite River.

Interstate 110 (The Martin Luther King, Jr. Freeway) stretches 8 miles in a north-south direction from the east end of the Horace Wilkinson Bridge to Scenic Highway in Scotlandville, Louisiana. It passes through Downtown, North Baton Rouge, and Baton Rouge Metro Airport before ending at Scenic Highway.

US highways and major roads

Baton Rouge has two US highways, along with their Business counterparts: Airline Highway (US 61) and Florida Boulevard.

US 190 enters the city from the Huey P. Long Bridge, beginning a concurrency with US 61 after an interchange with Scenic Highway, near Scotlandville. Its name is Airline Highway from this interchange to the interchange with Florida Blvd. At this interchange, US 190 turns east to follow Florida Blvd through Northeast Baton Rouge, exiting the city at the Amite River.

US 61 enters Baton Rouge as Scenic Highway until it reaches Airline Highway (US 190). It becomes concurrent with US 190 until Florida Blvd, where it continues south, still called Airline Highway. It passes through Goodwood and Broadmoor before an interchange with I-12. It continues southeast past Bluebonnet Blvd/Coursey Blvd, Jefferson Hwy, and Sherwood Forest Blvd/Siegen Lane before exiting the city at Bayou Manchac.

US 61/190 Business runs west along Florida Boulevard (known as Florida Street from Downtown east to Mid City) from Airline Highway to River Road in downtown. The cosigned routes run from Florida St. north along River Road, passing the Louisiana State Capitol and Capitol Park Complex before intersecting with Choctaw Drive. North of this intersection River Road becomes Chippewa Street and curves to the East. US 61/190 Business leaves Chippewa Street at its intersection with Scenic Highway. The route follows Scenic Highway to Airline Highway, where it ends. North of Airline on Scenic and East of Scenic Highway on Airline is US 61. US 190 is East and West of Scenic on Airline Highway.

These are important surface streets with designated state highway numbers: Greenwell Springs Road (LA 37), Plank Road/22nd Street (LA 67), Burbank Drive/Highland Road (LA 42), Nicholson Drive (LA 30), Jefferson Highway/Government Street (LA 73), Scotlandville/Baker/Zachary Highway (LA 19), Essen Lane (LA 3064), Bluebonnet Blvd/Coursey Blvd (LA 1248), Siegen Lane (LA 3246), and Perkins Road/Acadian Thruway (LA 427).

Traffic issues and highway upgrades

According to the 2008 INRIX National Traffic Scorecard, which ranks the top 100 congested metropolitan areas in the U.S., Baton Rouge is the 33rd-most-congested metro area in the country. However, at a population rank of 67 out of 100, it has the second-highest ratio of population rank to congestion rank, higher than even the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan area, indicating a remarkably high level of congestion for the comparatively low population. According to the Scorecard, Baton Rouge was the only area out of all 100 to show an increase in congestion from 2007 to 2008 (+6%). The city also tied for the highest jump in congestion rank over the same period (14 places).

Interstate 12 used to have a major bottleneck at O'neal Lane. The interstate was three lanes wide in each direction to the O'Neal Lane exit, where the interstate abruptly became two lanes in each direction and crossed the narrow Amite River Bridge. This stretch of road, called "a deathtrap" by one lawmaker, had become notorious for traffic accidents, many with fatalities. In 2007, ten people died in traffic accidents within a three-month period on this section of road. Governor Bobby Jindal and the Baton Rouge legislative delegation, in 2009, were successful in allocating state and federal funding to widen I-12 from O'neal Lane to Range Avenue (Exit 10) in Denham Springs. The construction was completed in mid-2012 and has significantly improved the flow of traffic. In 2010, The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act provided committed federal funds to widen I-12 from the Range Avenue Exit to Walker, Louisiana. Noticing the significant improvement in commute times, Bobby Jindal further funded widening to Satsuma, Louisiana.

Interstate 10 West at Bluebonnet Road also ranked within the top 1000 bottlenecks for 2008, and I-10 East at Essen Lane and Nicholson Drive ranked not far out of the top 1000. A new exit to the Mall of Louisiana was created in 2006, and the interstate was widened between Bluebonnet Blvd and Siegen Lane. However, the stretch of I-10 from the I-10/I-12 split to Bluebonnet Blvd was not part of these improvements and remained heavily congested during peak hours. In response, a widening project totaling at least $87 million began in late 2008. Interstate 10 was widened to three lanes over a five-year period between the I-10/I-12 split and Highland Road. In 2010, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act provided supplemental funding for this project to extend to the Highland Road exit in East Baton Rouge Parish. Commute times have since plummeted for this section of interstate.

Surface streets in Baton Rouge are prone to severe congestion. However, roads are beginning to handle the amount of vehicles using them after years of stagnation in road upgrades. Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden has instituted an extensive upgrade of East Baton Rouge Parish roads known as the Green Light Plan, geared toward improving areas of congestion on the city's surface streets. With its first project completed in October 2008, it has seen numerous others reach completion as of 2015, with several more under construction and still others yet to break ground.

A circumferential loop freeway has been proposed for the greater Baton Rouge metro area to help alleviate congestion on the existing through-town routes. The proposed loop would pass through the outlying parishes of Livingston (running alongside property owned and marketed as an industrial development by Al Coburn, a member of President Mike Grimmer's staff), Ascension, West Baton Rouge, and Iberville, as well as northern East Baton Rouge Parish. This proposal has been subject to much contention, particularly by residents living in the outer parishes through which the loop would pass. Other suggestions considered by the community are upgrading Airline Highway (US 61) to freeway standards in the region as well as establishing more links between East Baton Rouge Parish and its neighboring communities.

Commuting

The average one-way commute time in Baton Rouge is 22 minutes, 13% shorter than the US average. Interstates 10 and 12, the two interstates that feed into the city, are highly traveled and connected by highways and four-lane roads that connect the downtown business area to surrounding parishes. 99% of the Baton Rouge workforce drives a personal vehicle to work.

Airport

Located 10 minutes north of downtown near Baker, the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport connects the area with the four major airline hubs serving the southern United States. Commercial carriers include American Eagle, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines. Nonstop service is available to Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Memphis and Charlotte.

Rail

Three major rail lines, Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific, and Canadian National provide railroad freight service to Baton Rouge. Since 2006, Baton Rouge and New Orleans leaders as well as the state government have been pushing to secure funding for a new high-speed rail passenger line between downtown Baton Rouge and downtown New Orleans, with several stops in between.

Buses and other mass transit

Capital Area Transit System (CATS) provides urban transportation throughout Baton Rouge, including service to Southern University, Baton Rouge Community College, and Louisiana State University. Many CATS buses are equipped with bike racks for commuters to easily combine biking with bus transit.

Greyhound Bus Lines, offering passenger and cargo service throughout the United States, has a downtown terminal on Florida Boulevard.

Sister cities

After a visit to the Republic of China (Taiwan), Mayor-President Kip Holden unveiled plans to pursue a sister city agreement with a second Taiwanese city, Taipei.

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