Opinion of downtown Baton Rouge? I think we have by far the prettier waterfront, Riverwalk, and Skyline. Jacksonville is also FAR nicer when one gets out of the core, i.e.: we don't have 5 miles of oil pipes, and tanks surrounding downtown. All of that being said there IS a lesson to be taken from Baton Rouge. This city is no doubt in the same shape as we are in many ways, but they have done one thing very well, PRESERVE HISTORIC BUILDING STOCK. I found the number of historic buildings in the core not only interesting, some were pretty mind blowing. Lots of the signature moss draped lawns, French balconies, colonial American, railroad Roman and even a few shotgun houses all mixed in with the art deco capital. One can stand in the 1929 era capital's shadow, and look to the one side and see the Pentagon Barracks built in 1825, look another way and see ultra modern hotels and modern office buildings. I think what impressed me the most is in all of the many times I've been through the city I always wrote it off as a tacky and poorly maintained dump of a place. This trip I made the effort to seek out the spark that makes it come to life, and busy or not their downtown is spotless, beautiful and well worth the visit.
It should be noted that these photos were taken on a Sunday afternoon. They had about 3x the number of people around downtown on Sunday then we have... at least 40. LOL. What I didn't see was block after block of closed retail, whatever the traffic is on weekdays, there seemed to be a lot of organic shops, ice cream parlors and pubs.
Just as a side note, they too are flirting with rail transit, and the state itself toward a corridor passenger train service that will run from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.