Downtown Revitalization: Baton Rouge

February 11, 2013 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville visits the downtown of Louisiana's state capitol: Baton Rouge

Tale of the Tape:

Baton Rouge City Population 2011: 230,139 (City); 808,242 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1817)

Jacksonville Pop. 2011: 827,908 (City); 1,360,251 (Metro-2011) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Baton Rouge (125,629)

City Land Area

Baton Rouge: 76.8 square miles
Jacksonville: 757.7 square miles

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2010-2011)

Baton Rouge: +0.72%
Jacksonville: +1.09%

Urban Area Population (2010 census)

Baton Rouge: 594,309 (ranked 68 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 1,065,219 (ranked 40 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2010 census)

Baton Rouge: 1,620.3 people per square mile
Jacksonville: 2,008.5 people per square mile

City Population Growth from 2000 to 2011

Baton Rouge: +2,321
Jacksonville: +92,405

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Baton Rouge: Baton Rouge River Center (late 1970s) - 100,000 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1985) - 78,500 square feet

Connected to or across the street from Convention Center:

Baton Rouge: N/A
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building:

Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Capitol - 450 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Fortune 500 companies 2012 (City limits only):

Baton Rouge: Shaw Group(412)
Jacksonville: CSX (226), Winn-Dixie Stores (363), Fidelity National Information Services (425), Fidelity National Financial (472)

Urban infill obstacles:

Baton Rouge: Interstates 10 and 110 limit connectivity between downtown and adjacent urban core neighborhoods.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.

Downtown Nightlife:

Baton Rouge:
Jacksonville: East Bay Street

Common Downtown Albatross:

Surface parking lots.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Baton Rouge: N/A
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to

About Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge (pron.: /ˌbtən ˈruːʒ/; French: Bton-Rouge [bɑtɔ̃ ʁuʒ] ( listen); Choctaw: Itta Homma; "red stick") is the capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana. Located in East Baton Rouge Parish, the city is the second largest in the state, and has a population of 229,553 people as of the 2010 census. The metropolitan area surrounding the city, known as Greater Baton Rouge, has a population of 802,484 people as of 2010.

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. The area 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.

Completed in 1929, the 450' tall Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest capitol building in the United States.  The tower was modeled after the Nebraska State Capitol Building, which was still under construction at the time.

The Old State Capitol, which dates back to 1847, still stands in downtown Baton Rouge. It houses the Museum of Political History.

Downtown Baton Rouge's second tallest building is One American Place.  Completed in 1974, the 24-floor structure stands at 308' tall.

The 86-year-old Heidelberg Hotel building is now the Hilton Capitol Center.  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 in a successful attempt keep it from being demolished.  The building stood empty for 21 years until Hilton opened in 2006 as a part of a $60 million restoration.

A seven floor, $17 million new Hampton Inn & Suites is under construction at the intersection of Lafayette and Main Streets. With the recent openings of the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center and Hotel Indigo, Lafayette Street is transforming into an urban lodging corridor.

looking east down Convention Street with the State Office Building rising in the background.

The Shaw Center for the Arts is home to the LSU Museum of Art, LSU School of Art Gallery, the 325-seat Manship Theatre, classrooms, a rooftop sushi restaurant, and a park.  The 125,000 square foot cultural complex opened in 2005.

The Mississippi River Riverfront

The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Company Depot, also known as the Illinois Central Railroad Station, houses the Louisiana Art and Science Museum.

Baton Rouge River Center.

USS Kidd (DD-661) is a Fletcher-class destroyer that was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named after Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd.  Kidd died on the bridge of his flagship USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The USS Kidd received eight battle stars for World War II service and four battle stars for Korean War service. Kidd arrived in Baton Rouge in 1982 to serve as a museum vessel.

Catfish Town was a $28 million festival marketplace downtown on the banks of the Mississippi that opened on July 4, 1984. It started out with a bang, attracting 250,000 people, but within 18 months, it was empty.  Today, the former marketplace is the atrium for the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino.

Baton Rouge City Hall

North Boulevard Town Square is a spectacular greenspace development that has transformed the disjointed area between North Boulevard and River Road into a lively downtown center where the city's cultural and civic attractions come together for all to enjoy. While this area was previously unusable with virtually no tree cover to protect visitors from the relentless Louisiana heat, it has now become the city's premier social gathering place — featuring more than an acre of open green space and innovative water features that help cool the landscape and a multitude of high-tech amenities to entertain visitors.

The 21-story JP Morgan Chase Tower is Baton Rouge's third tallest building standing at 277' in height.

Little Village Italian Restaurant at 447 Third Street.

Looking south on North 4th Street.

Images by Robert Mann