DescriptionThe flags of seven nations have flown over Baton Rouge—those of France, England, Spain, West Florida, the Sovereign State of Louisiana, the Confederacy and the United States. Despite this, the original name bestowed by French explorer Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville in 1699 has endured. Meaning “red stick” or “red staff,” the name referred to a tall cypress tree, stripped of its bark and draped with freshly killed animals, that marked the boundary between the hunting grounds of the Bayougoula and Houmas Indian tribes.
In 1849 Baton Rouge became the state capital. As the battlefront moved north through Louisiana during the Civil War, the capital shifted to Opelousas, then Alexandria and finally Shreveport. Union troops occupied Baton Rouge during most of the war.
The Battle of Baton Rouge State Monument, North Boulevard and Riverside Street, is on the site of the 4-hour bloody attempt by Confederate soldiers to retake the city in April 1862. The city again became state capital in the early 1880s when home rule was restored.
Baton Rouge is the second largest city in Louisiana and one of the largest ports in the nation. It is at the northern end of the “Petrochemical Gold Coast”—the industrial belt that flanks the Mississippi for 100 miles downriver to New Orleans. Across the river from Baton Rouge great sugar plantations form an area known as the “Sugar Bowl of America.”
The profusion of magnolia and cypress trees and antebellum homes belies the city's industrial image. Baton Rouge also is home to two major universities: Louisiana State University and Southern University, 801 Harding Blvd. The latter overlooks the Mississippi in north Baton Rouge off US 61 and is home to the 36-foot-high Red Stick Monument, an aluminum sculpture created by artist and faculty member Frank Hayden in 1976. Campus tours can be arranged; phone (225) 771-4500.
World-class music and dance performances, plays and film screenings are held at the 325-seat Manship Theatre, at 100 Lafayette St. in the Shaw Center for the Arts. The impressive cultural venue also encompasses an art gallery as well as the Hartley/Vey Theaters. Phone (225) 344-0334.
Baton Rouge's oldest church, St. Joseph Cathedral, is at 412 North St. Built in 1853, the cathedral stands upon the site of two earlier churches, the first dating to 1790. The Gothic Revival-style St. James Episcopal Church, with three Tiffany glass windows over the altar, is at 205 N. 4th St.
The Mississippi River Road Corridor, a 70-mile stretch of the Great River Road, winds through eight parishes from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and offers travelers scenic views of the Mississippi River as well as the chance to visit historical sites, plantations, museums, small towns and old cemeteries along the way.
Visitor InfoVisit Baton Rouge 359 Third St. BATON ROUGE, LA 70801. Phone:(225)383-1825 or (800)527-6843
ShoppingThe Cortana Mall , 9401 Cortana Pl., features Dillard's and Sears among its nearly 70 stores. The Mall of Louisiana , 6401 Bluebonnet Blvd., counts Dillard's and Macy's among its stores.
The Arts District on Government Street, Jefferson Highway and Perkins Road, features pottery, photography, paintings and antiques at local shops. The Historic Merchants District, on Perkins Road, is home to several local boutiques.
Towne Center at Cedar Lodge , Corporate Boulevard and Jefferson Highway, is an open-air shopping village with such shops as Banana Republic, Books-a-Million, Gap, Kirkland's and Talbots. Another similar shopping destination is Perkins Rowe at the corner of Bluebonnet Blvd. and Perkins Rd. Its stores include Anthropologie, Barnes & Noble, J.Crew and Urban Outfitters.
Things to SeeBlue Bayou Water Park and Dixie Landin' Theme Park