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City of Houma
Terrebonne Parish Courthouse at Houma
Terrebonne Parish Courthouse at Houma
Country  United States
States  Louisiana
Parish Terrebonne
Founded 1834; 187 years ago (1834)
Incorporated 1848; 173 years ago (1848)
Reincorporated 1898; 123 years ago (1898)
County seat Terrebonne
Principal city Houma–Bayou CaneThibodaux Metropolitan Statistical Area
Region Acadiana
South Louisiana
 • Type Government
 • Body Consolidated City-Parish
 • City 33,727
 • Metro
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
70360, 70363-64
Area code 985
Future Interstate I-49 (Future).svg
U.S. Highways US 90.svg
Airport Houma–Terrebonne Airport
Rivers Bayou Terrebonne Intracostal Waterway

Houma ( HO-ma) is the only city in and the parish seat of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, and the largest principal city of the Houma–Bayou CaneThibodaux Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's powers of government have been absorbed by the parish, which is now run by the Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government. The population was 33,727 at the 2010 census, an increase of 1,334 over the 2000 tabulation of 32,393.

Many unincorporated areas are adjacent to the city of Houma; the largest, Bayou Cane, is an urbanized area commonly referred to by locals as being part of Houma. It is not included in the city's census counts, and is a separate census-designated place. If the populations of the urbanized census-designated places were included with that of the city of Houma, the total would exceed 60,000 residents. The city was named after the historic Native American tribe of Houma people, believed to be related to the Choctaw. The United Houma Nation Tribe is recognized by the state of Louisiana, although it has not achieved federal recognition.

Houma was rated as an "Affordable" city by Demographia's International Housing Survey.


Houma was founded by European Americans in 1834 at a former settlement of the Houma people, who historically occupied this area. The city was named after them. The city of Houma was incorporated in 1848. The United Houma Nation and two other Houma tribes have been recognized by the state. Houma is also rated as a medium size city.

The area was developed for plantations in the antebellum years, which were worked primarily by enslaved African Americans.

Since the late 19th century, the area has become more industrialized and developed for trade.

Civil War

In 1862, four Union soldiers en route by wagon from New Orleans to Houma were ambushed by several armed citizens. Two of the Union men were killed, and the other two were seriously wounded.

In retaliation, Union officers brought 400 troops into Houma, where they began a wholesale arrest of residents. In his 1963 book, the historian John D. Winters describes the events:

"The investigation of the murders lasted several days but failed to reveal the guilty parties. To frighten the citizens, the home of a Doctor Jennings was burned, two other houses were torn down, and the home and slave quarters of an outlying plantation were burned. The soldiers next began to seize sheep, cattle, mules, wagons, and saddle horses. Negroes began to desert their masters and to flock to the protection of the troops. The frightened citizens had no means of resistance, and many found it hard to stand by and see their country despoiled by a few hundred troops."


Houma is located at 29°35′15″N 90°42′58″W / 29.58750°N 90.71611°W / 29.58750; -90.71611 (29.587614, -90.716108) and has an elevation of 10 feet (3.0 m). BY SQ

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.2 square miles (37 km2), of which 14.0 square miles (36 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (0.92%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 429
1870 593 38.2%
1880 1,084 82.8%
1890 1,280 18.1%
1900 3,212 150.9%
1910 5,024 56.4%
1920 5,160 2.7%
1930 6,531 26.6%
1940 9,052 38.6%
1950 11,505 27.1%
1960 22,561 96.1%
1970 30,922 37.1%
1980 32,602 5.4%
1990 30,495 −6.5%
2000 32,393 6.2%
2010 33,727 4.1%
Est. 2015 34,287 1.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
The Twin Spans Bridge
The "Twin Spans" bridges in downtown Houma serve as the main thoroughfare for crossing the Intracoastal Waterway

At the 2010 census, there were 33,727 people, 10,634 households and 16,283 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,308.5 per square mile (891.4/km²). There were 12,514 housing units at an average density of 891.8 per square mile (344.4/km²). The racial make up of the city was 67.46% White, 20.62% Black, 5.45% Native American, 1.71% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.68% from other races, and 1.87% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.76% of the population.

2000 census

In 2000, there were 11,634 households of which 35.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.5% were married couples living together, 16.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.8% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.24.

27.9% of the population were under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.

The median household income was $34,471 and the median family income was $40,679. Males had a median income of $35,897 and females $22,202. The per capita income was $17,720. About 16.4% of families and 20.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.7% of those under age 18 and 17.3% of those age 65 or over.


Houma and the surrounding communities are steeped in the French and Cajun history of the region. Originally the region was settled by French and Spanish colonists who made their way south through Bayou Lafourche, and then later it was settled by Acadians (Cajuns). The Acadians had been expelled from Nova Scotia for their unwillingness to bow down to the King and to abandon their Catholic religion for the Church of England, an idea any Frenchman would consider preposterous. The number expelled was about 15,000 in number of which 3,000 settled in the region. As the French, Spanish, and Native American tribes began to mix, a unique Cajun culture was born.

The swampland around Houma was isolated from the rest of the United States well into the 1930's, thus outside influences such as radio and WWI patriotism failed to inspire the Cajuns to become more "Americanized". So the culture in this region persevered much longer than in cities on the border of Cajun country like Lake Charles or Baton Rouge. Such rich culture in Houma includes the French language, Cajun cuisine, and festivals such as Mardi Gras. That culture remains evident today and is the source of much tourism.

In the 1970's many South Vietnamese came over to Southern Louisiana to work as shrimpers, just as they had in Vietnam. A fairly significant portion of them settled in New Orleans and many settled in Houma as well. They are still seen at the docks shrimping as their families have for several decades.

Downtown Houma has been listed as a significant historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers a downtown walking tour and attractions such as the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum, the Folklife Culture Center, the Regional Military Museum, Southdown Plantation, the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, monuments to local armed forces, and local eateries.

Although Houma is quickly changing, many residents in the surrounding communities continue to make their living as their ancestors did. They are shrimpers, oystermen, crabbers, fishermen, and trappers, although more are beginning to work in occupations of the oil industry and ship building. As reported by records held by the United States Government Patent and Trademark Office, Houma, Louisiana was the site of the deepest oil well in Terrebonne Parish (name of sections in the State of Louisiana, often characterized in the name as "counties" in other States within the United States of America. At that time the United States Postal Service was delivering the mail at a one cent rate. Many long-standing traditions and lifestyles remain as part of the area's rich cultural history. Houma is also the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.

Tab Benoit's Voice of the Wetlands Music Festival, established in 2005, takes place in Houma, annually in October.

In popular culture

  • Houma and the surrounding area are the setting for the fictional Swamp Thing comic books, and the 1994 V. C. Andrews book Ruby. The Suicide Squad is based at Belle Reve in Houma, as well.
  • The 1996 film The Apostle, starring Robert Duvall, was partially filmed in Terrebonne Parish.
  • The 1999 films Crazy in Alabama, Fight Club and A Lesson Before Dying were partially filmed in Houma.
  • Many wetlands shots in the IMAX production, Hurricane on the Bayou, were filmed in the area.
  • The 2005 film The Skeleton Key is set in Houma and the nearby area of Bayou Gauche.
  • The HBO documentary, The Recruiter, followed the life of an Army recruiter and several of his recruits from Houma.
  • Several scenes from the 2013 film, The Butler, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, were filmed in downtown Houma.
  • In 1992, Unsolved Mysteries profiled the case of Adam John "AJ" Breaux, a resident of Houma, Louisiana, who went missing in 1991.


Houma is served by Houma-Terrebonne Airport, located 3 miles southeast of the central business district.

Good Earth Transit is Houma's parish bus system. It has 5 major routes and services the surrounding suburban areas including the small, surrounding bayou communities and the city of Thibodaux.

Houma relies mainly on its roads as its main form of transportation. The major roads in Houma are:

  • US Route 90
  • LA HWY 311
  • Tunnel Blvd. (LA 3040)
  • LA 24 (Locally Called West Park Ave.(Westbound) and Main St.(Eastbound))
  • LA 182 (New Orleans Blvd.)
  • South and North Hollywood Rd.
  • St. Louis Canal Rd.
  • Savanne Rd.
  • Valhi Blvd.

Twin towns

  • France Cambrai, Nord, Hauts-de-France, France
  • Turkey Datca, Turkey
  • New Brunswick Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada
  • In June 2012, Terrebonne Parish signed a letter of intent to become a sister city with Weihai, China, for economic development purposes.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Houma has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.

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