Baton Rouge is the capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana. It is located in East Baton Rouge Parish and is the second largest city in the state. Baton Rouge is a major industrial, petrochemical, medical, and research center of the American South. The Port of Baton Rouge is the ninth largest in the United States in terms of tonnage shipped, and is the farthest upstream Mississippi River port capable of handling Panamax ships. The Baton Rouge area, also known as the "Capital Area", is located in the southeast portion of the state along the Mississippi River. It owes its historical importance to its site upon Istrouma Bluff, the first bluff upriver from the Mississippi River Delta, which protects the city’s residents from flooding, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. In addition to this natural barrier, the city has built a levee system stretching from the bluff southward to protect the riverfront and low-lying agricultural areas.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Baton Rouge experienced a boom in the petrochemical industry, causing the city to expand away from the original center. In recent years, government and business have begun a move back to the central district. A building boom that began in the 1990s continues today, with multi-million dollar projects for quality of life improvements and new construction happening all over the city. In the 2000s (decade), Baton Rouge has proven to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the South in terms of technology. Baton Rouge's population temporarily exploded after Hurricane Katrina, as it accepted as Many as 200,000 displaced residents. Metropolitan Baton Rouge is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the U.S. (under 1 million), with 602,894 in 2000 and 802,484 people as of the 2010 census. Some estimates indicate that the Baton Rouge metro area could reach 900,000 residents as soon as 2013. The city has a vibrant mix of the cultures found throughout Louisiana, from which it developed its motto: "Authentic Louisiana at every turn".
Baton Rouge enjoys a strong economy that has helped the city be ranked as one of the "Top 10 Places for Young Adults" in 2010 by Portfolio Magazine and one of the top 20 cities in North America for economic strength by Brookings. In 2009, the city was ranked as the 9th best place in the country to start a new business by CNN. The city is home to one Fortune 500 company and one Fortune 1000 company, including Shaw Group. Lamar Advertising Company has its headquarters in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is the farthest inland port on the Mississippi River that can accommodate ocean-going tankers and cargo carriers. The ships transfer their cargo (grain, crude, cars, containers) at Baton Rouge onto rails and pipelines (to travel east-west) or barges (to travel north). Deep-draft vessels cannot pass the Old Huey Long Bridge because the clearance is insufficient, and the river depth decreases significantly just to the north, near Port Hudson.
Baton Rouge's largest industry is petrochemical production and manufacturing. The ExxonMobil facility in Baton Rouge is the second-largest oil refinery in the country; it is among the World's 10 largest. Baton Rouge also has rail, highway, pipeline, and deep water access. Albemarle is headquartered in Baton Rouge. Dow Chemical Company has a large plant in Iberville Parish near Plaquemine. NanYa Technology Corporation has a large facility in North Baton Rouge that makes PVC and CPVC pipes. Shaw Construction, Turner, and Harmony all started with performing construction work at these plants. As well as being the state capital and parish seat, the city is also the home of Louisiana State University. One of the largest single employers in Baton Rouge is the state government, which recently consolidated all branches of state government downtown at the "Capitol Park" complex. The research hospitals Our Lady of the Lake, Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital (affiliated with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital), Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, and Earl K. Long, helped by an emerging medical corridor at Essen Lane/Summa Avenue/Bluebonnet Boulevard, are positioning Baton Rouge to eventually support a medical district similar to the Texas Medical Center. LSU and Tulane have both announced plans to construct satellite medical campuses in Baton Rouge to partner with Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center and Baton Rouge General Medical Center, respectively.
Southeastern Louisiana University and Our Lady of the Lake College both have nursing schools in the medical district off Essen Lane. Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center, which conducts clinical and biological research, also contributes to research-related employment in the area around the Baton Rouge medical district. The film industry, like in neighboring New Orleans, is a strong growth industry in Baton Rouge, which is now home to a new and expanding movie studio known as Celtic Media Center. Numerous films and movies are filmed in the Baton Rouge area every year. Because of generous state tax credits, there has been significant development in post production facilities and movie studios in the region.
Tourism and recreation:
There are many architectural points of interest in Baton Rouge, ranging from antebellum to modern. The neo-gothic Old Louisiana State Capitol was built in the 1890s as the first state house in Baton Rouge and was later replaced by the 450 feet (137 m) tall, art-deco New Louisiana State Capitol which was the tallest building in the South when it was completed. Several plantation homes in the area such as Magnolia Mound Plantation House, Myrtles Plantation, and Nottoway Plantation showcase antebellum-era architecture. Louisiana State University has over 250 buildings in Italian Renaissance style, one of the nation's largest college stadiums, and is endowed with many live oaks. Several examples of modern and contemporary buildings are downtown, including the Louisiana State Museum. A number of structures, including the Baton Rouge River Center, Louisiana State Library, LSU Student Union, Louisiana Naval Museum, Bluebonnet Swamp Interpretive Center, Louisiana Arts and Sciences Center, Louisiana State Archive And Research Library, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, were designed by local architect John Desmond. Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad Company Depot, currently houses the Louisiana Art and Science Museum.
Museums around town offer a variety of genres. The Louisiana State Museum and the Old Louisiana State Capitol Museum display information on state history and have many interactive exhibits. The Shaw Center For The Arts showcases and the Louisiana Art and Science Museum showcase varied arts. LASM also includes science exhibits and a planetarium. Other museums include the LSU Museum of Natural Science and the USS Kidd. Baton Rouge has an extensive park collection run through BREC (The Recreation & Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge). The largest park is City Park near LSU and is currently undergoing a complete remodeling. The Baton Rouge Zoo is run through BREC and includes 1800+ species. Other attractions include the Mall at Cortana and the Mall Of Louisiana (Louisiana's two largest malls) and Perkins Rowe, amusement parks of Dixie Landin'/ Blue Bayou, and dining at the Louisiana-cuisine restaurants.
East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools operates primary and secondary schools serving the city. The city of Baton Rouge is also home to 15 charter schools with a total enrollment of 3800 pupils. One of the latest includes the Mentorship Academy in downtown Baton Rouge, which leverages its location downtown to establish internship opportunities with local businesses as well as provide a high tech classroom environment to focus on a digital animation curriculum.
Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, generally known as Louisiana State University or LSU, is a public, coeducational university that is the main campus of the Louisiana State University System. LSU includes nine senior colleges and three schools, in addition to specialized centers, divisions, institutes, and offices. Enrollment stands at over 32,000 students, with 1,300 full-time faculty members. LSU is also one of twenty-one American universities designated as a land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant research center. In order to reverse decades of underfunding, the university recently launched an ambitious fundraising drive, called the "Forever LSU" campaign.
Southern University and A&M College is a comprehensive institution offering two associate's degree programs, 42 bachelor's degree programs, 19 master's degree programs, and five doctoral programs. The University is part of the only historically black land grant university system in the United States. Southern became a land-grant school in 1890, and an Agricultural and Mechanical department was established. The University offers programs of study ranging from associate degree to doctoral and professional degrees. It provides opportunities for students to participate in internships and summer assignments in industry and with the federal government. Virginia College opened in October 2010 and offers students training in areas like Cosmetology, Business, Health and Medical Billing. Virginia College received senior college recognition from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools(ACICS) which now accredits all programs at the school's campuses.
Our Lady of the Lake College is an independent Catholic institution also in the Baton Rouge medical district that offers associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in programs such as nursing, health sciences, humanities, behavioral sciences, and arts and sciences. It has an associated hospital, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. In 2010, LSU announced that it will relocate it's medical education and Hospital Services to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge as a result of a historic agreement between LSU and the training hospital. Tulane University is also opening a satellite medical school at Baton Rouge General's Mid City Campus in 2011. Southeastern Louisiana University School of Nursing is located in the medical district on Essen Lane in Baton Rouge. Southeastern offers traditional baccalaureate and masters degree programs as well as LPN and RN to BSN articulation opportunities.
Baton Rouge Community College is an open-admissions, two-year post-secondary public community college, established on 28 June 1995. The college settled into a permanent location in 1998. The 60-acre (240,000 m2) campus consists of five main buildings: Governor's Building, Louisiana Building, Cypress Building, Bienvenue Building (student center), and the Magnolia Library Building. The college's current enrollment is more than 8,000 students. The curricular offerings include courses and programs leading to transfer credits, certificates and associate degrees.
Highways and roads:
Baton Rouge is connected by the following major routes: I-10 (Capital City Expressway via the Horace Wilkinson Bridge), I-12 (Republic of West Florida Parkway), I-110 (Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway), Airline Highway (US 61), Florida Boulevard (US 190) (via the Huey P. Long Bridge), Greenwell Springs Road (LA 37), Plank Road/22nd Street (LA 67), Burbank Drive & Highland Road(LA 42), Nicholson Drive (LA 30), Jefferson Highway (LA 73), Louisiana Highway 1 (LA 1) and Scotland/Baker/Zachary Highway (LA 19). The business routes of US 61/190 run west along Florida Blvd. from Airline Highway to River Road downtown. The routes also run along River Rd., Chippewa Street, and Scenic Highway from Chippewa to Airline. US 190 joins US 61 on Airline Hwy. from Florida Blvd. to Scenic Hwy., where the two highways split. US 190 continues westward on Airline to the Huey P. Long Bridge, while US 61 heads north on Scenic Hwy.
To accommodate the rapid growth of Baton Rouge, sections of its freeways have been upgraded in recent decades and there are currently plans to create a tolled freeway loop around the metropolitan area. According to the 2008 INRIX National Traffic Scorecard, which ranks the top 100 congested metropolitan areas in the U.S., Baton Rouge is the 33rd-most-congested metro area in the country. However, at a population rank of 67 out of 100, it has the second-highest ratio of population rank to congestion rank, higher than even the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan area, indicating a remarkably high level of congestion for the comparatively low population. According to the Scorecard, Baton Rouge was the only area out of all 100 to show an increase in congestion from 2007 to 2008 (+6%). The city also tied for the highest jump in congestion rank over the same period (14 places).