Shreveport is the third largest city in Louisiana and the 109th-largest city in the United States. It is the seat of Caddo Parish and extends along the Red River (most notably at Wright Island, the Charles and Marie Hamel Memorial Park, and Bagley Island) into neighboring Bossier Parish. Bossier City is separated from Shreveport by the Red River. The population was 218,021 at the 2010 census, and the Shreveport-Bossier City Metropolitan Area population exceeds 400,000.
The Shreveport-Bossier City Metropolitan Statistical Area ranks 117th in the United States, according to the United States Census Bureau. Shreveport was founded in 1836 by the Shreve Town Company, a corporation established to develop a town at the juncture of the newly navigable Red River and the Texas Trail, an overland route into the newly independent Republic of Texas and, prior to that time, into Mexico. Shreveport is the commercial and cultural center of the Ark-La-Tex, the area where Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas meet. Many people in the community refer to the two cities of Shreveport and Bossier City as "Shreveport-Bossier".
Shreveport was once a major player in United States oil business and at one time could boast Standard Oil of Louisiana as a locally based company. The Louisiana branch was later absorbed by Standard Oil of New Jersey. In the 1980s, the oil and gas industry suffered a large economic downturn, and many companies cut back jobs or went out of business, including a large retail shopping mall, South Park Mall, which closed in the late 1990s and is now Summer Grove Baptist Church. Shreveport suffered severely from this recession, and many residents left the area.
Today the city has largely transitioned to a service economy. In particular, the area has seen a rapid growth in the gaming industry, hosting various riverboat gambling casinos, and, before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, was second only to New Orleans in Louisiana tourism. Nearby Bossier City is home to one of the three horse racetracks in the state, Harrah's Louisiana Downs. Casinos in Shreveport-Bossier include Sam's Town Casino, Eldorado Casino, Horseshoe Casino, Boomtown Casino, and Diamond Jacks Casino (formerly Isle of Capri). The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau is the official tourism information agency for the region.
The bureau maintains a comprehensive database of restaurants, accommodations, attractions, and events. In May 2005, the Louisiana Boardwalk, a 550,000 square foot (51,000 m²) shopping and entertainment complex, opened across the Red River in Bossier City, featuring outlet shopping, several restaurants, a 14‑screen movie theater, a bowling complex, and a Bass Pro Shops. A new 350,000-square-foot (33,000 m2) convention center was recently completed in downtown Shreveport. It includes an 800‑space parking garage. An adjoining Hilton Hotel opened in June 2007.
The city's direct construction and ownership of the Hilton Hotel has been a controversial issue as to the proper use of public funds. The Shreveport Convention Center is managed by SMG. Shreveport is also a major medical center of the region and state. The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport operates at expanded facilities once used by the former Confederate Memorial Medical Center. Major hospitals include Christus Schumpert, Willis Knighton, and the Shriners Hospital for Children.
Caddo Public Schools is a school district based in Shreveport. The district serves all of Caddo Parish. Its founding superintendent was Clifton Ellis Byrd, a Virginia native, who assumed the chief administrative position in 1907 and continued until his death in 1926. C.E. Byrd High School, which was established in 1925 on Line Avenue at the intersection with East Kings Highway, bears his name. Shreveport has several colleges, including the Methodist-affiliated Centenary College (founded at Jackson, Louisiana, in 1825; relocated to Shreveport in 1908) and Louisiana State University at Shreveport, which opened as a two-year institution in 1967. It became four-year in 1976. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport, the only medical school in northern Louisiana, opened in 1969. Shreveport also has one of the largest nursing schools in northern Louisiana, the Northwestern State University College of Nursing.
Southern University, Shreveport (SUSLA), offers a two-year associate's degree program. (The four-year institution, which is historically black, is in Baton Rouge.) Founded in 1973, Louisiana Baptist University and Theological Seminary is also located in Shreveport at 6301 Westport Avenue. Ayers Career College is a Shreveport based college that offers career training in the medical and HVAC fields. Since July 2007, Shreveport is home to a local Remington College campus. This location offers both diploma and degree programs, and is active in the Shreveport Community. Virginia College is a new college that opened early 2012. Located in Shreveport/Bossier City, Virginia College offers career training in areas such as Business and Office, Health and Medical, and Medical Billing.
Recreation and attractions:
- 8th Air Force Museum, Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City
- Barnwell Garden & Art Center arboretum and gardens
- Chimp Haven, chimpanzee sanctuary, Keithville, LA (Shreveport suburb)
- Clyde Fant Park, along the Red River, named for Mayor Clyde Fant
- Cross Lake
- Ford Park on Cross Lake
- Gators and Friends, alligator and exotic animal park, Greenwood, LA (Shreveport suburb)
- The Gardens Of The American Rose Center
- Hirsch Memorial Coliseum at Louisiana State Fairgrounds
- J. Bennett Johnston, Jr. Waterway Regional Visitor Center - History of Red River
- Louisiana Boardwalk - Bossier City, opposite the Shreveport Central Business District
- Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, located in a landmark building at the State Fair Grounds
- Pioneer Heritage Center at Louisiana State University in Shreveport campus
- R. W. Norton Art Gallery and adjacent azalea park
- Riverwalk Park
- Sci-Port Discovery Center and IMAX Theater
- Shreveport Municipal Auditorium and Louisiana Hayride Museum
- Spirit of the Red River, river cruise boat
- Spring Street Historical Museum
- Touchstone Wildlife & Art Museum, Haughton in Bossier Parish
- Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary, Frierson, LA (Shreveport suburb)