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Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana facts for kids

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Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana
Map of Louisiana highlighting Plaquemines Parish
Location in the state of Louisiana
Map of the USA highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
Founded 1807
Seat Pointe à la Hache
Largest community Belle Chasse
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

2,567 sq mi (6,648 km²)
780 sq mi (2,020 km²)
1,787 sq mi (4,628 km²), 70%
 - (2015)
 - Density

30/sq mi (12/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Named for: Louisiana French word for persimmons

Plaquemines Parish (/ˈplækmɪnz/; Louisiana French: Paroisse des Plaquemines) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census the population is 23,042. The parish seat is Pointe à la Hache. The parish was formed in 1807.

Plaquemines Parish is part of the New OrleansMetairie, LA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It was severely damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and in hurricane events in 2011.


The name "Plaquemines," in French Creole, was derived from the Atakapa word, piakimin, meaning the local fruit persimmon. The French used it to name a military post they built on the banks of the Mississippi River, as the site was surrounded by numerous persimmon trees. Eventually the name was applied to the entire parish and to a nearby bayou.

The oldest European settlement in the parish was La Balize, where the French built and inhabited a crude fort by 1699 near the mouth of the Mississippi River. The name in French meant "seamark", a tall structure of wood built as a guide for ships. By 1721 the French built one 62 feet (19 m) high. A surviving map from about 1720 shows the island and fort, and the mouth of the river.

As traffic and trade on the river increased, so did the importance of river pilots who were knowledgeable about the complicated, ever-changing currents and sandbars in the river. They lived at La Balize with their families. The village was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, but it was abandoned for good after being destroyed by a September 1860 hurricane. The pilots moved upriver and built the settlement they named Pilottown, which reached its peak of population in the 19th century. The river pilots' expertise continues to be critical, but now they generally live with their families in more populated areas. They stay at Pilottown temporarily for work.

An important historical site is Fort Jackson, built in 1822 as recommended by General Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. In 1861, Fort Jackson served as an important Confederate defense for the city of New Orleans during the Civil War because it was at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The US Army used it as a training base during World War I, 1917-1918.

Plaquemines is one of only two parishes that have kept their same boundaries from the beginning of Louisiana's parishes in 1807 to today, the other being St. Bernard Parish.

20th Century to present

Because Plaquemines Parish encompasses the last 70 miles (110 km) of the Mississippi River before it reaches the Gulf of Mexico, it is the site of several oil refineries, which rely on the shipping lanes for moving their product. The Mississippi River Delta of Plaquemines is also a base for assistance to offshore oil rigs. Plaquemines Parish was the first place in the United States where shippers used a container for cargo in foreign trade. The area is also known for having the most southern point in Louisiana, at just under 29 degrees north. To be further south in the United States, a person would have to be in Texas, Florida, or Hawaii.

The August 1901 Hurricane caused damage, including 4 feet of water in Buras.

The Great Hurricane of 1915 devastated much of the Parish, with multiple levee breaches on both sides of the Mississippi, a 12-foot storm surge, and hundreds of deaths. Homelessness was widespread, and many people were reduced to starvation until charitable aid arrived. The old Parish Courthouse in Pointe à la Hache was among the many buildings destroyed in the storm, but a new one was completed within the year.

In the early 1900s, Plaquemines was an exporter of citrus. Farmers used the railroads and the Mississippi to ship the large annual harvest to markets. Commercial fisheries, especially for oysters, have been important in the parish economy.

From 1924 to 1969, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes were effectively the domain of the political boss Leander Perez, who established a strong hold over the area. He was notorious for fixing elections and enforcing strict racial segregation. Upon his death, his sons Leander Perez, Jr., and Chalin O. Perez, were elected as the dominant political figures of the parish as district attorney and parish president, respectively. Interpersonal feuding weakened the family's hold on power. After another decade, by 1980 political opponents had begun to win local elections.

During the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, city and state leaders used dynamite to breach a levee at Caernarvon, thirteen miles (19 km) below Canal Street, in order to save the city of New Orleans from flooding. This action resulted in the flooding of much of the less-populated St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, causing widespread destruction to agriculture and housing.

The Civil Rights struggle for African-Americans to become registered voters in Plaquemines Parish begin in October 1946, under the guidance of Dr. Rev. Percy Murphy Griffin. With the Aid of Attorneys Earl Amedee and Louis Berry from New Orleans, Griffin and twenty-six African-Americans from Plaquemines Parish organized the Plaquemines Parish Civil and Political Organization, Inc., to fight racial barriers established by Perez. In the summer of 1953, the group organized a voter registration drive for African Americans. The organization filed class-action suits against Leander Perez and in 1953, several African-Americans became registered voters in Plaquemines Parish. In 1966, the organization led the fight to integrate public schools. The movement also worked to get Seymourville and another small community included within the parish boundaries; the city had sought to exclude these majority-black communities to prevent black votes from being counted. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended legal segregation, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 authorized federal oversight and enforcement of voter registration and elections in jurisdictions with historic under-representation of minority elements of the population. After 1965, African Americans in Louisiana began full participation in Louisiana politics.

In 1965, Hurricane Betsy flooded many buildings, including the parish courthouse, and caused nine deaths. Leander Perez sealed off the parish to control the distribution of state assistance.

Historic sites

The parish includes three United States National Historic Landmarks:

  • Fort De La Boulaye Site,
  • Fort Jackson, and
  • Fort St. Philip.

The parish has five other sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including Woodland Plantation, which has been depicted on the label of Southern Comfort liqueur since the 1930s. Woodland Plantation is an antebellum mansion located in West Pointe à la Hache, on the west bank of the Mississippi River. It is now operated as a bed and breakfast.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana on August 29, 2005, resulting in one of the worst disasters in United States history; it severely damaged all of southeast Louisiana. Martial law was not declared in Plaquemines, contrary to many media reports, as no such term exists in Louisiana state law. No place escaped without some damage, while most of Plaquemines, Orleans, and neighboring St. Bernard parishes were severely affected. The towns of Pointe à la Hache, Port Sulphur, Buras, Triumph, Empire, Boothville, Phoenix, and Venice suffered catastrophic damage.

Amid heavy rains accompanied by hurricane-force winds in excess of 120 mph (190 km/h) at initial landfall (with a Category 5 storm surge), the levees failed and broke. The storm surge which flowed in was more than 20 feet (6.1 m) high. Although a majority of the populace had complied with mandatory state evacuation orders, some did not, possibly because they were not able to. At least three residents died.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the parish has a total area of 2,567 square miles (6,650 km2), of which 780 square miles (2,000 km2) is land and 1,787 square miles (4,630 km2) (70%) is water. It is the largest parish by total area in Louisiana. Plaquemines Parish is bordered to the south and southeast by the Gulf of Mexico.

Major highways

  • Louisiana 23.svg Louisiana Highway 23
  • Louisiana 39.svg Louisiana Highway 39

Adjacent parishes and features

National protected areas

  • Breton National Wildlife Refuge (part)
  • Delta National Wildlife Refuge


Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 2,354
1830 4,489 90.7%
1840 5,060 12.7%
1850 7,390 46.0%
1860 8,494 14.9%
1870 10,552 24.2%
1880 11,575 9.7%
1890 12,541 8.3%
1900 13,039 4.0%
1910 12,524 −3.9%
1920 10,194 −18.6%
1930 9,608 −5.7%
1940 12,318 28.2%
1950 14,239 15.6%
1960 22,545 58.3%
1970 25,225 11.9%
1980 26,049 3.3%
1990 25,575 −1.8%
2000 26,757 4.6%
2010 23,042 −13.9%
Est. 2015 23,495 2.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the census of 2000, there were 26,757 people, 9,021 households, and 7,000 families residing in the parish. The population density was 32 people per square mile (12/km²). There were 10,481 housing units at an average density of 12 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 69.77% White, 23.39% Black or African American, 2.07% Native American, 2.62% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.73% from other races, and 1.42% from two or more races. 1.62% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 2.22% reported speaking French or Creole French at home.

There were 9,021 households out of which 39.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.50% were married couples living together, 14.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.40% were non-families. 18.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the parish the population was spread out with 29.20% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 30.50% from 25 to 44, 21.40% from 45 to 64, and 9.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 99.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.30 males.

The median income for a household in the parish was $38,173, and the median income for a family was $42,610. Males had a median income of $37,245 versus $21,691 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $15,937. About 15.40% of families and 18.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.70% of those under age 18 and 18.40% of those age 65 or over.


Map of Plaquemines Parish Louisiana With Municipal Labels
Map of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana With Municipal Labels

There are no incorporated areas within Plaquemines Parish. Communities not listed below include Dalcour, Myrtle Grove, Nairn, Naomi, Orchid, and Scarsdale.

Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Outdated designations

Ghost towns

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