Baton Rouge, with an estimated population of 222,064 residents, was historically the second largest city in Louisiana until Hurricane Katrina caused the decline in population in New Orleans and migration to this area. Due to its strategic shipping and military location upon the Istrouma Bluff, overlooking the Mississippi River, the area has a volatile social history. Baton Rouge has gone through centuries of conflict and progress from its initial establishment by French explorer Sieur d'lberville in Bayogoula in Houma hunting territory, through the Civil War and the "Jim Crow" years, to its present day position as a center of culture and technology in the state. It also stands as a major port and an industrial and petrochemical center of the American South.
Pride in the city and continued citizen involvement has created a city that is a great place to live, work and visit. Its rich cultural heritage of early military campaigns along with French, German, African American, Caribbean, and Spanish colonists is evident in the wide variety of art, history, and culture exhibits throughout the city. Some of these can be found at the LSU Rural Life Museum, Poplar Grove Plantation, Louisiana Arts and Science Museum, Louisiana Museum of Natural History, The Old Arsenal Powder Magazine, the Old State Capitol, and the Shaw Center for the Arts, to name a few. Local and exotic flora and fauna can be found at the Laurens Henry Cohn, Sr. Memorial Plant Arboretum, Independence Park Botanic Gardens, Huey Long Field House, Baton Rouge Zoo, and LSU University Lakes.
Schools of higher learning that call the city home include Louisiana State University, Southern University, Baton Rouge Community College, Our Lady of the Lake College, Baton Rouge General Medical Center School of Nursing, Baton Rouge General Medical Center School of Radiologic Technology, Louisiana Technical College (Baton Rouge campus), Louisiana Culinary Institute, ITI Technical College, and the University of Phoenix (Baton Rouge campus).
Collegiate and professional sports are widely supported in Baton Rouge. From LSU baseball, football, and basketball to high school games, Baton Rouge citizens love sports. Other forms of family entertainment can be found at Blue Bayou Waterpark, the Dixie Landin' Amusement Park and the Baton Rouge River Center. Other points of interest worthy of a visit include the BREC, LSU, BRAS Highland Road Observatory, The Herbarium of LSU, and the Louisiana State Capitol.