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Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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Baton Rouge in Louisiana.

 

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Baton Rouge is the capital of and second-largest city in Louisiana, United States. It is located in East Baton Rouge Parish.

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 know 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.

Culture

Baton Rouge is the middle ground of South Louisiana cultures, having a mix of Cajun and Creole Catholics and Baptists of the Florida Parishes and South Mississippi. Baton Rouge is a college city with Baton Rouge Community College, Louisiana State University, Our Lady of the Lake College, and Southern University whose students make up some 20% of the city population. There is a sizable international population of about 11,300, the largest of which are people of Hispanic or Vietnamese descent. Due to this, Baton Rouge has come to have a unique culture as well as be a representation of many different heritages.

Arts and theater

Baton Rouge has an expanding visual arts scene, which is centered downtown. This increasing collection of venues is anchored by the Shaw Center for the Arts. Opened in 2005, this award-winning facility houses the Brunner Gallery, LSU Museum of Art, the Manship Theatre, a contemporary art gallery, traveling exhibits, and several eateries. Another prominent facility is the Louisiana Art and Science Museum (LASM), which contains Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, traveling art exhibits, space displays, and an ancient Egyptian section. Several smaller art galleries, including the Baton Rouge Gallery, offering a range of local art are scattered throughout the city.

There is also an emerging performance arts scene. The Baton Rouge Little Theater, Baton Rouge River Center, and Manship Theatre mostly host traveling shows, including broadways, musical artists, and plays. Opera Louisiane is Baton Rouge's newest and only professional opera company. Other venues include Reilly Theater which is home to Swine Palace, a non-profit professional theater company associated with the Louisiana

In addition, the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra has been in service for 61 years, and currently operates at the River Center Music Hall downtown. Today, there are over 60 concerts annually performed by the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra directed by Timothy Muffitt and David Torns The BRSO's educational component, the Louisiana Youth Orchestra, made its debut in 1984 and currently includes almost 180 musicians under the age of 20.

Events

Many events take place throughout the year, the biggest of which is Mardi Gras. Every year Baton Rouge hosts many Mardi Gras parades, the largest one being held in historic Spanish Town. Other festivals include FestforAll, Louisiana Earth Day, Mardi Gras season, Pennington Balloon Festival, the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and Red Stick International Animation Festival.

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.

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