Baton Rouge may not be the biggest city in Louisiana, but I certainly think it is the best one. And since it is the capital, I am going to say that the state agrees with me. As a city, we’ve had ups and downs, but it is a great place to live, work, and visit.
We’ve gone back and forth a few times between foreign rule, then Union and Confederate control. The area itself is incredibly old – Native Americans have lived around here since around 8000 B.C. But if we’re talking about it resembling an actual city, this great city was established as a French military post. The name Baton Rouge means, “Red Stick,” so named after explorers saw bark-stripped red cypress trees on tribal hunting grounds. The Native Americans used these sticks to impale sacrificial animal and fish heads.
Europe really liked the area. Back then, there was plenty of bear hunting and fishing, which made it perfect for settling. Plus the water access was amazing. France, England, and Spain all had control of the city at one point or another. When France had the area, settlers from Acadia, an area of French Canada, fled here after the British took their land. Their descendants were known as Cajuns, and they had a heavy influence on our culture and language. The Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years’ War, gave it over to the English in 1763. They did not have it very long, as it was lost in the Battle of Baton Rouge in 1779 to the Spanish.
The Spanish managed to hold onto it a little longer. The governor, appointed by Spain, Don Carlos de Grandpre, is the one who created Spanish Town. However, the locals overthrew them in 1810, and called it part of the West Florida Republic. This was a very temporary situation, only around 90 days, and then it became part of Louisiana. And as you probably know, Louisiana was accepted into the Union in 1812.
In 1849, Baton Rouge became the capital city. Union soldiers took over the city in 1862, and there were several battles fought here. The Third Battle of Baton Rouge was lost by the Confederates in one of the longest fights in our American history.
We were originally more of an agricultural area but after the Civil War, the population grew thanks to oil refineries – the first of which opened in 1909. Then LSU moved in 1932, creating more middle-class neighborhoods in the area. This diversity continues to help us grow and be a great place to live and work.
Downtown started getting a little downtrodden, but Davis Rhorer and some other political backers worked very hard to entice businesses and restaurants back into the area, which has made it a great place to be. There’s lots of hotels, offices, and places to eat.