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Gonzales, Louisiana
City of Gonzales
2009 aerial photo of Gonzales
2009 aerial photo of Gonzales
Location of Gonzales in Ascension Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Gonzales in Ascension Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Country United States
State Louisiana
Parish Ascension
Government
 • Type Mayor-council
Area
 • Total 9.25 sq mi (23.96 km2)
 • Land 9.14 sq mi (23.68 km2)
 • Water 0.11 sq mi (0.28 km2)
Elevation
10 ft (3 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 12,231
 • Density 1,337.89/sq mi (516.58/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code(s) 225
FIPS code 22-29850

Gonzales is a city in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, United States. As of the 2020 census, it has a population of 12,231. Known as the "Jambalaya Capital of the World", it is famous for its annual Jambalaya Festival, which was first held in 1968. Stephen "Steve" F. Juneau came up with the idea for the Jambalaya Festival and served as the first president of the Jambalaya Festival Association.

Legislative delegation

District 59 State Representative Eddie J. Lambert of Ascension Parish practices law in Gonzales, as does State Senator Jody Amedee, who represents Ascension, Livingston, St. James, and St. John the Baptist parishes. Lambert, a Republican in 2004 succeeded former Representative Juba Diez, a Democrat, who held the position since 1976.

Former Gonzales Mayor Johnny Berthelot, a Republican, holds the District 88 seat in the Louisiana House. In 2012, he succeeded Mert Smiley, who was instead elected as the Ascension Parish tax assessor.

Edward Joseph Price, an African-American Democrat and a Gonzales businessman, has held the District 58 House seat for Ascension, Iberville, and St. James parishes since 2012. Another District 58 representative was Melvin Irvin, a black educator and businessman from Gonzales who held the seat from 1984 to 1992. He died in 2014.

State Representative Randal Gaines of St. John the Baptist Parish, formerly resided in Gonzales.

Geography

Gonzales is located at 30°13′38″N 90°55′11″W / 30.22722°N 90.91972°W / 30.22722; -90.91972 (30.227128, -90.919771).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.5 square miles (22.0 km2), of which 8.4 square miles (21.7 km2) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.3 km2), or 1.27%, is water.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 462
1940 857 85.5%
1950 1,642 91.6%
1960 3,252 98.1%
1970 4,512 38.7%
1980 7,287 61.5%
1990 7,003 −3.9%
2000 8,156 16.5%
2010 9,781 19.9%
2020 12,231 25.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Gonzales racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 4,432 36.24%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 5,730 46.85%
Native American 33 0.27%
Asian 101 0.83%
Pacific Islander 4 0.03%
Other/Mixed 353 2.89%
Hispanic or Latino 1,578 12.9%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 12,231 people, 4,159 households, and 2,807 families residing in the city.

Climate

Gonzales has a subtropical climate, with hot summers and mild winters. The area is subject to potential severe weather year-round, with snowfall being rare for the city. Hurricanes also pose a threat to the area due to its proximity to the coastline of southeast Louisiana. In September 2008, Hurricane Gustav brought 80+ mph winds to the area with gusts over 100 mph. The last hurricane to strike the area was Hurricane Isaac in August 2012.

History

Early settlers of the area which would eventually become Gonzales were, for the most part, of Spanish and French ancestry, settling amidst the Houma Indians who lived in the area. By 1851, the small settlement had only ten residents. A school was established in 1855 by Adlard Gautreaux for the children in the area. By 1886, the settlement had grown, and the citizens of the community elected "Big" José Gonzáles as their sheriff. Joseph's son, "Tee-Joe" Gonzales, opened a general store and post office in May 1887. The post office was known as the Gonzales Post Office. A few years later the Railroad Commission ordered the local railroad to change the name of the community from Edenborn to Gonzales to match the post office name.

The center of Gonzales, known as Chips Grocery, came into being in the late 1970s. The previous center was known as the "Fish N Pic".

The railroad assisted in the growth of Gonzales. When the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company (LR&N) constructed its rail line through the area, there was already a local post office named Gonzales. The rail company executives wanted to name their station there Edenborn after the company's owner, Willam Edenborn. The company also wanted to move the station north of the area to New River, then called Belle Hellene. After local residents filed protests with the Louisiana Railroad Commission, the railroad company was ordered to leave the station at Gonzales. The LR&N still tried to change the name to Edenborn. The residents continued to protest, and were able to get the Louisiana Legislature to pass a law requiring railroad companies to name their railroad stations the same name as that carried by the local post office. Gonzales was laid out and subdivided 1906. It was officially incorporated as a village in 1922 by then Louisiana Governor John Parker with Joseph Gonzales becoming the first mayor. The village continued to grow with the construction of Airline Highway, and Earl K. Long proclaimed Gonzales a town in 1952 during his term as governor. The first Jambalaya Festival was held in 1968, and Governor John J. McKeithen marked the occasion by proclaiming Gonzales the "Jambalaya Capital of the World." Following the growth of industrial corporations in the area, the town finally became a city in 1977 following a proclamation by Governor Edwin Edwards. Gonzales became better known in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck. The HSUS and other animal rescue groups along with the National Guard made a fairground in Gonzales their main search and rescue headquarters, as well as the location of storing pets picked up from New Orleans and many other locations. Some people were reunited with their lost pets at this same location.

National Guard

Gonzales is home to the 922nd Horizontal Engineer Company, which is part of the 769th Engineer Battalion headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This company does "horizontal" construction missions, which in military parlance means it is tasked with building and/or fixing roads. Both these units belong to the 225th Engineer Brigade, which is located at Pineville, Louisiana on Camp Beauregard.

Sister cities

Gonzales has one sister city, as designated by Sister Cities International:

  • France Meylan, France

Notable people

  • Alicia Morton, actress
  • Cleo Moore, actress
  • Glenn Dorsey, NFL player
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