Alexandria, Louisiana

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City of Alexandria
City
Third Street in downtown Alexandria
Nickname: Ellic
CountryUnited States
StateLouisiana
ParishRapides
Elevation75 ft (22.9 m)
Coordinates31°17′34″N 92°27′33″W / 31.29278°N 92.45917°W / 31.29278; -92.45917
Area27.0 sq mi (69.9 km2)
 - land26.4 sq mi (68 km2)
 - water0.6 sq mi (2 km2), 2.22%
 - metro2,027 sq mi (5,250 km2)
Population47,723 (2010)
 - metro153,922 (2010)
Density677.5 / sq mi (261.6 / km2)
Incorporated1818
 - City Charter1882
MayorJacques Roy
TimezoneCST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST)CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes71301-03, 06–07, 09, 11, 15
Area code318
Phone Number Prefixes201, 290, 308, 420, 427, 441–443, 445, 448, 449, 473, 483, 484, 487, 542, 561, 619, 767, 769, 787, 880
Location of Alexandria in Louisiana
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Website: http://www.cityofalexandriala.com
 
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Coordinates: 31°17′34″N 92°27′33″W / 31.29278°N 92.45917°W / 31.29278; -92.45917
City of Alexandria
City
Third Street in downtown Alexandria
Nickname: Ellic
CountryUnited States
StateLouisiana
ParishRapides
Elevation75 ft (22.9 m)
Coordinates31°17′34″N 92°27′33″W / 31.29278°N 92.45917°W / 31.29278; -92.45917
Area27.0 sq mi (69.9 km2)
 - land26.4 sq mi (68 km2)
 - water0.6 sq mi (2 km2), 2.22%
 - metro2,027 sq mi (5,250 km2)
Population47,723 (2010)
 - metro153,922 (2010)
Density677.5 / sq mi (261.6 / km2)
Incorporated1818
 - City Charter1882
MayorJacques Roy
TimezoneCST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST)CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes71301-03, 06–07, 09, 11, 15
Area code318
Phone Number Prefixes201, 290, 308, 420, 427, 441–443, 445, 448, 449, 473, 483, 484, 487, 542, 561, 619, 767, 769, 787, 880
Location of Alexandria in Louisiana
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Website: http://www.cityofalexandriala.com

Alexandria is a city in and the parish seat of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, United States.[1] It lies on the south bank of the Red River in almost the exact geographic center of the state. It is the principal city of the Alexandria metropolitan area (population 153,922) which encompasses all of Rapides and Grant parishes. Its neighboring city is Pineville. In 2010, the population was 47,723, an increase of 3 percent from the 2000 census.[2]

Contents

History

Located along the Red River, the city of Alexandria was originally home to a community which supported activities of the adjacent Spanish outpost of Post du Rapides. The area developed as an assemblage of traders and merchants in the agricultural lands bordering the mostly unsettled areas to the north and providing a link from the south to the El Camino Real and then larger settlement of Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase.

Alexander Fulton, a businessman from Washington County, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received a land grant from Spain in 1785, and the first organized settlement was made at some point in the 1790s. In 1805, Fulton and business partner Thomas Harris Maddox laid out the town plan and named the town in Fulton's honor. That same year Fulton was appointed coroner in Rapides Parish by territorial Governor William C.C. Claiborne.[3] Alexandria was incorporated as a town in 1819 and received a city charter in 1832.[4]

The Civil War in Alexandria

In the spring of 1863, Alexandria was occupied by Union forces under the command of Admiral David Dixon Porter and General Nathaniel P. Banks. Porter arrived with his gunboats on May 7. Later in the day Banks reached Alexandria with his cavalry, whose members had marched 25 miles to reach the city. According to the historian John D. Winters of Louisiana Tech University, Porter disliked Banks but nevertheless turned over Alexandria to Banks and then departed to rejoin U.S. Grant at the ongoing siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Banks posted guards and declared martial law. Porter left behind the gunboat USS Lafayette in Alexandria and posted the USS Pittsburg on the Black River to the northeast.[5]

In 1864, Admiral Porter, back in the area, and General Banks quarreled over possession of Louisiana cotton. Porter seized three hundred bales of Confederate cotton from various warehouses in Alexandria and stamped it "U.S.N. prize", referring to the United States Navy. Porter sent his sailors into the country to search for unginned cotton. After the crop was located, it was brought to Alexandria to be ginned and baled. The sailors also seized molasses and wool. Winters writes that Porter "took all cotton wherever he found it, cotton belonging to the Confederate government, cotton belonging to the 'rebels,' and cotton belonging to 'loyal' citizens."[6]

Winters continues: "Banks was furious with Porter when he learned that the admiral was scouring the interior for cotton. Since he had no authority to stop Porter's speculative activities, Banks could only try to beat him to the remaining cotton. Army wagons were sent out in large numbers to collect the cotton. Thousands of bales were brought in by the troops and stored for future shipment. Jealous of the abundant transportation facilities of the army, unprincipled navy men stole army wagons and teams at night, repainted the wagons, and branded the mules with navy initials, and dove deep in the country in search of cotton. . . . "[7]

The federal army made itself as comfortable as possible during its long stay in Alexandria. Winters writes that "lumber and tools were foraged, and the men busied themselves by building wooden tent floors, benches, and furniture. . . . Alexandria [was enclosed] with a zigzag line of fortifications."[8] While Banks remained in Alexandria in the spring of 1864, Porter was temporarily trapped north of the city because of the low level of the Red River, four feet instead of the needed seven feet to accommodate gunboats.[9]

Confederate citizens as a whole were most fearful of the Union. According to Winters, "most [Confederates] had never before seen a Yankee soldier [and] expected the worse from the invader. . . . 'Some cried, some cursed, some whined; and some overcome with fear, hid themselves in the woods, leaving everything to the tender mercies of the army.' Negroes were responsible for much of the plunder and pillage. Negro camp followers and officers' servants roamed the plantations and small farms without hindrance, bringing in their booty to camps each afternoon. . . . "[10]

On May 13, 1864, when the Union decided to abandon Alexandria, the city was set afire despite General Banks' order to the contrary. Winters reports that "burning and plundering" by two Union corps, who set fire to a store on Front Street. Then "a strong wind spread the flames rapidly from one building to the next."[11] Banks later claimed that the fire "broke out in the attic of one of the buildings on the levee inhabited by either soldiers or refugees."[12] Winters reports that "pandemonium reigned; frightened cows bellowed and charged through the flaming streets; squawking chickens with scorched wings tried to fly out of danger. Hundreds of women, children, and old people ran through the streets, trying to carry a few of their belongings to safety. When the heat became unbearable, they dropped their loads and fled to the levee. Thieves ran from house to house and even along the levee taking whatever they wanted from the shocked people. By noon the most congested parts of town were destroyed. An attempt to blow up a church in the path of the fire only succeeded in helping to spread the flames. . . . "[12]

Alexandria faced the overwhelming task of rebuilding with a year of the war remaining. Prices became exorbitant; butter cost $10 a pound, bacon $5 a pound, flour $3 a pound, and a bushel of meal $10. Many of the helpless lived in the forest without food, shelter, or clothing, subsisting on blackberries. All clothing was homespun, and shoes were mostly made of cloth.[13] While Admiral Porter expressed sympathy for the suffering Alexandria residents, he declared the "burning of Alexandria a fit termination of the unfortunate Red River expedition."[12]

Geography and climate

Alexandria is located at 31°17′34″N 92°27′33″W / 31.29278°N 92.45917°W / 31.29278; -92.45917[14] and has an elevation of 75 feet (22.9 m)[15].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.0 square miles (69.9 km2). 26.4 square miles (68.4 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.5 km²) of it (2.15%) is water.

Trees cast shadows over Bayou Rapides east of MacArthur Drive in Alexandria
Alexandria gas station awning damaged by Hurricane Rita

Alexandria is on a level plain in the center of the Louisiana Longleaf Pine forests, in which pine is interspersed with various hardwoods. A number of small bayous, such as Bayou Rapides, Bayou Roberts, and Hynson Bayou, meander throughout the city. In the immediate vicinity of the city, cotton, sugar, alfalfa, and garden vegetables are cultivated. The climate is humid subtropical with some continental influence in the winter. Summers are hot and humid, and winters are mild, with occasional cold snaps. The area receives plentiful rainfall year-round, and snowfalls are rare. Tropical storms and hurricanes do impact Alexandria from time to time, but rarely cause severe damage, unlike areas closer to the coast. In September 2005 Hurricane Rita affected Alexandria and surrounding areas, causing widespread power outages and damaging the roofs of some structures. The most recent hurricane, Gustav, caused widespread flooding, knocked over trees and power lines leading to power outages, and damaged structures. Some low-lying Alexandria neighborhoods experienced substantial flooding from Gustav with several feet of water in houses.

Demographics

Historical populations
CensusPop.
1850672
18601,461117.4%
18701,218−16.6%
18801,80047.8%
18902,86158.9%
19005,64897.4%
191011,21398.5%
192017,51056.2%
193023,02531.5%
194027,06617.6%
195034,91329.0%
196040,27915.4%
197041,5573.2%
198051,64824.3%
199049,188−4.8%
200046,342−5.8%
201047,7233.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 46,342 people, 17,816 households, and 11,722 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,754.6/sq mi(677.5/km²). There were 19,806 housing units at an average density of 749.9 per square mile(289.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 54.75% Black or African American, 42.60% White, 0.25% Native American, 1.25% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. 0.98% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 17,816 households out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.5% were married couples living together, 23.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 30.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.1% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 83.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,097, and the median income for a family was $31,978. Males had a median income of $29,456 versus $20,154 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,242. About 23.2% of families and 27.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 37.7% of those under age 18 and 18.5% of those age 65 or over.

Religion

Sanctuary of large Pentecostal Church in Alexandria
Large Emmanuel Baptist Church on Jackson Street in downtown Alexandria

Like many other Southern cities, the largest single religious denomination in the Alexandria area is Southern Baptist. Large congregations include Emmanuel Baptist Church downtown on Jackson Street and Calvary Baptist off Jackson Street Extension. A significant Roman Catholic population is also present.[17] This is due in part to the large Catholic Acadian French population which resides in and around Alexandria, many from neighboring Avoyelles Parish. Alexandria is the headquarters for the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana, which is headed by Bishop Ronald Herzog

Alexandria also has a significant number of Methodists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, as well as adherents to many other Protestant denominations.

Alexandria has a small, but active Jewish community which dates back to the mid-19th century. Jews have consistently been leaders in government, civic organizations, education, and medicine. The current President of the Alexandria City Council, Harry Silver, is the first Jew to hold such an office. At one time in Alexandria city history, nearly every business in downtown Alexandria was a Jewish-owned business, including stores such as: Wellan's, Caplan's, Bialy's, Weiss & Goldring, and Schwartzberg's. The Jewish community in Alexandria consists of two synagogues, which are approximately two blocks apart: Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim (Reform) and B'nai Israel Traditional Synagogue (Conservative).

Annual cultural events and festivals

Mardi Gras

As Alexandria is at the cusp of Cajun culture's extension to the north, the city recognizes Mardi Gras as an official holiday. The annual Mardi Gras parade – occurring on the Sunday before Mardi Gras – on Texas Avenue is a major cultural festivity in the area. Boasted as a true family oriented event, parade goers can enjoy over 20 New Orleans style floats, high school and college marching bands, as well as appearances by local celebrities. In addition to the main Sunday parade, a children's parade takes place downtown on the Saturday before Mardi Gras and another parade known as the Krewe of Provine Parade occurs on Fat Tuesday itself down Coliseum Boulevard.

Cenlabration

Begun in the late 1980s, Cenlabration [18] was one of the largest festivals in Central Louisiana (Cenla). The name comes from Central Louisiana ("LA") Celebration, and reflects local culture and heritage, as well as serving as a means of celebrating Labor Day as the end of summer.

As many as three stages support a particular type of music, including Cajun and zydeco, blues and jazz, and Country music. In addition there are arts and crafts booths for local artists to sell their wares. In the Children's Village, children can participate in arts and crafts, listen to storytellers, play games with clowns, or watch a play. The festival has plenty of carnival rides available as well. Cenlabration ends with a large fireworks display.

RiverFest

In 2002, representatives of local government, businesses, organizations, and community formed the nonprofit organization River Cities Cultural Alliance, Inc. to promote tourism and the arts through a celebration of Central Louisiana’s diverse cultural heritage. The nonprofit served to organize and put on RiverFest: Heritage and Arts on the Red. More than ten thousand festival-goers attending the event.

RiverFest was held in downtown Alexandria and on the Alexandria and Pineville levees. The festival features the work of visual artists from across the South, food booths exemplifying southern cuisine, a variety of children’s activities, three outdoor stages with a wide range of music, dance, and theatrical performances, and a literary component with readings and panel discussions by Louisiana authors and scholars.

RiverFest was canceled in 2007.

Museums

The Alexandria Museum of Art was founded in 1977 and occupies the historic Rapides Bank Building on the banks of the Red River. The building was built c. 1898 and is listed on the National Historic Register. It opened to the public in March 1998. In 1998, the Alexandria Museum of Art expanded and constructed its grand foyer and offices as an annex to the Rapides Bank Building. In 1999, the Alexandria Museum of Art was honored as an Outsanding Arts Organization in the Louisiana Governor's Arts Awards. In 2007, the Alexandria Museum of Art entered into a collaborative endeavor agreement with Louisiana State University of Alexandria (LSUA). The Alexandria Museum of Art now also serves as a downtown campus for LSUA classes, and is host to multidisciplinary community events, including concerts and recitals, lectures, yoga classes, Second Saturday Markets, and Museum Afterhours.

Alexandria History Museum
Alexandria Museum of Art on Main Street adjacent to Red River

The Louisiana History Museum is also located downtown. It showcases the history of all Louisiana, with emphasis on the central portion of the state, Rapides Parish, and Alexandria. Major exhibit areas deal with Native Americans, Louisiana geography, politics, health care, farming, and the impact of war.

Kent Plantation House is also located in Alexandria, built c. 1776 on a Spanish land grant this is at 211 years old the oldest standing structure in Central Louisiana, one of only 2 buildings in the city to survive the burning of 1864 by Union troops fleeing after being defeated at Mansfield. The house has been moved from its original location but still stands on part of the original land grant. It is open for tours daily Mon-Sat at 9am, 10am, 11am, 1pm,2pm, 3pm. The tour is always done by costumed docents and includes the house furnished in period pieces, some belonging to the original family, and all 9 outbuildings, including an 18450's sugar mill, blacksmith shop, barn, 2 slave cabins, open hearth kitchen and milk house.

Performing arts

The Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center is located on Third Street across from the Alexandria Daily Town Talk building

The site of the center was donated by The Town Talk newspaper, owned by Gannett Co. Inc. of McLean, Virginia.

A local music festival, Jazz on the River, sponsored by the Arna Bontemps African American Museum, is held each April and features a live jazz concert on the banks of the Red River. The Rapides Symphony's annual fall concert Pops in the Park. The spring and fall seasons are also welcomed with Downtown Rocks, a free outdoor concert series.

The Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center on Third Street serves as the home of the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, which has been performing in Alexandria for nearly forty years. Alexandria is also home to the Red River Chorale, an auditioned community chorus. This group is relatively new, but has already gained a reputation of fine music. The RRC regularly performs with the Rapides Symphony Orchestra.

The Arts Council of Central Louisiana programs a yearly Performing Arts Series in the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center.

Sports

Rapides Parish Coliseum on Louisiana Highway 28
The Entrance to Bringhurst Field

Alexandria is home to the Alexandria Aces, a summer college league team. The Aces have been champions in various leagues in 1997, 1998, 2006, and 2007. They play their home games at Bringhurst Field.

Alexandria is also home to the Cenla Derby Dames, a roller derby team that operates under the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. They play their home games at the Rapides Parish Coliseum.

Nearby is Bringhurst Golf Course, popularly known as "the nation's oldest par three course." A full-scale renovation was completed in mid-2010. In addition to Bringhurst, named for the late industrialist R.W. Bringhurst, Alexandria is home to four other golf courses: Oak Wing, The Links on the Bayou, at LSUA, and Alexandria Golf and Country Club.

Alexandria once had a minor league ice hockey team, the Alexandria Warthogs. They played their home games at the Rapides Parish Coliseum.

There was also a semi-pro football team, the Louisiana Rapides Rangers, who played their home games at the Rapides Parish Coliseum. They played in the Central District of the Southern American Football League, and the Southern Conference of the National Indoor Football League (NIFL). The team was owned by a Lafayette business group before moving to Beaumont, Texas in 2003.

In 1974, a Little League team from Alexandria won the Louisiana state championship.

Alexandria is also home to the U-14 Crossroads Pride soccer team. They won the 2012 Louisiana Soccer Association State Cup.

Notable people

Media

Newspapers

Established March 17, 1883, The Town Talk is a daily newspaper serving the Alexandria-Pineville communities, as well as the 13 parishes that comprise central Louisiana. The newspaper was owned by the family of Jane Wilson Smith and Joe D. Smith Jr., until March 1996, when it was sold to Central Newspapers. In August 2000, Gannett Company acquired the Central Newspapers properties including The Town Talk. The name of the paper on its inaugural issue was the Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Although it has since been shorted to the current the Town Talk, it is still frequently referred to by long-time residents as the Daily Town Talk.

Key officers include: Publisher William "Ed" Humphrey; Executive Editor Paul V. Carty; Advertising Director William "Bill" Heirtzler; and Assistant Managing Editors John Marcase and Richard Powell Sharkey.

Television

Alexandria is served by local television stations KALB-TV (NBC / CBS), WNTZ (Fox), KLAX-TV (ABC), KLPA (PBS/LPB), and KBCA (The CW). KALB is the oldest television station in central Louisiana. Alexandria is the location of the pawn shop in the show Cajun Pawn Stars on History Channel.

Radio

Local radio stations

Parks and outdoor attractions

Greenery at Alexandria Zoo

Alexandria Zoological Park

The Alexandria Zoological Park is a 33-acre (13 ha) zoo first opened to the public in 1926. Owned by the City of Alexandria and operated by the Division of Public Works, it is home to about 500 animals and includes an award-winning Louisiana Habitat exhibit. Much of the credit for the quality of the zoo has been given to Robert Leslie Whitt (1951–2008), who served as director for 34 years prior to his death. Whitt was hired in 1974 by then Streets and Parks Commissioner Malcolm P. Hebert, Sr. The zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and takes part in about 20 Species Survival Plans (SSP) as part of its conservation efforts.

Cotile Lake Recreation Area

Cotile Lake is a man-made impoundment located in the uplands approximately 15 miles (24 km) west-northwest of Alexandria, Louisiana. The lake is approximately 1,775 acres (7 km2) in size and was completed in October 1965. The Louisiana Wild Life and Fisheries Commission stocked this impoundment with the proper species and number of game fish in 1965–66 shortly after its completion date. The recreational facilities include a large area cleared and zoned for swimming with complete bath house facilities nearby. There is a water skiing area that is cleared and snagged for safety of the skiers. The picnic and camping areas are modern and complete. There is also space available for campers.

Indian Creek Lake and Recreation Area

Encompasses a 2,250-acre (9 km2) lake, 100 acres (0.4 km2) of developed recreation facilities and a 250 acres (1.0 km2) primitive camping area all within the Alexander State Forest. The lake, located in central Louisiana, was constructed as a joint venture of the Louisiana Forestry Commission, the Rapides Parish Police Jury, and the Lower West Red River Soil and Water Conservation District as a reservoir for agricultural irrigation in times of need and for recreation purposes.

The recreation area camping area contains 109 campsites with conventional full utility hookups, 3 beaches for swimming, bath houses, a boat launch, and 75 picnic sites. A covered pavilion within the developed area provides for groups up to 100 people. The recreation area is open year round and operates on user fees.

Kisatchie National Forest

Alexandria sits in the middle of the Kisatchie National Forest. Ranger districts are north, northwest, west and southwest of the city. An abundance of large timberlands and forest nurseries, as well as lake and recreation areas, are within a short driving distance.

Other points of interest

Amphitheatre on the Red River
Entrance sign to Alexandria Memorial Gardens

Military

Louisiana National Guard

Alexandria is home to both Headquarters and Company B of the 199th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB). The 199th BSB is the logistical component of the 256th Infantry Brigade that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from October 2004 until September 2005. The 199th BSB provides supply and transportation (Company A), medical (Company C) and maintenance (Company B) support and services that keep the 256th Brigade operational. The battalion also has units located in Jonesboro, Winnfield, Colfax, and St. Martinville, Louisiana.

England Air Force Base

Alexandria served as the home of England Air Force Base from its origins as an emergency airstrip for Esler Regional Airport until its closure. England AFB was officially closed on December 15, 1992, pursuant to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act (Public Law 101-510) and recommendations of the Defense Secretary's Commission on Base Realignment and Closure.[19] The base now serves as Alexandria International Airport (see below).

Economy

Capital One, formerly the Guaranty Bank and Trust Company, occupies the tallest building in Alexandria across Third Street from City Hall.

At the time of the 2000 census, the per capita income in Alexandria was $16,242, compared with $21,587 nationally. The Alexandria workforce consists of about 55,000 residents.[20] Union Tank Car Company has recently located a plant northwest of Alexandria near the airport creating hundreds of jobs. Expansions at the Procter & Gamble plant and the construction of a PlastiPak plant in nearby Pineville have also created a number of new jobs for the area.

In 2007, Inc. Magazine rated Alexandria as the 77th best place in which to conduct business out of the 393 U.S. cities ranked, a significant increase from its ranking as No. 276 in 2006. Among other Louisiana cities, Alexandria ranked second, following only Baton Rouge, which ranked 59th nationally.[21]

Healthcare

Alexandria is home to two major hospitals: Rapides Regional, a former Baptist hospital is located downtown. Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital was opened in 1950 and is located at the corner of Masonic Drive and Texas Avenue. Both hospitals are in the process of expansion.

Additionally, located just across the Red River in Pineville, the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center at Alexandria, which serves central Louisiana and surrounding areas.

Port of Alexandria

In the early 19th century, the Port of Alexandria brought goods to the area and shipped cotton and other local products to the rest of the country. A ferry connected the cities of Alexandria and Pineville until a bridge was built across the Red in 1900.

Today, Port facilities include: a 40-ton crane for off-loading, a 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) warehouse, 13,600-ton bulk fertilizer warehouse, a 3,400-ton bulk fertilizer dome structure and a 5,000-ton dome which was added in January 2005.

The petroleum off-loading facility includes two 55,000 bbl (8,700 m3) tanks, one 15,000 bbl (2,400 m3) tank capable of handling two barges and five truck off-loading simultaneously. There is also a general cargo dock with access to rail and a hopper barge unloading dock with conveyor system.

Today's modern facilities and the Port's central location with its connection to the Mississippi River provide excellent opportunities for importers and exporters.

Alexandria International Airport

New terminal at AEX

Alexandria International Airport (AEX) is a regional airport, providing flights to Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, and Memphis.[22] In 2006 a new-state-of-the-art passenger terminal was dedicated. Alexandria is served by American, Continental and Delta.

Current military use

Formerly known as England AFB until 1992, Alexandria International Airport additionally has numerous international charter airlines use the airport in the transport of military personnel attached to the United States Army base at Fort Polk. A new military personnel terminal opened in 2007.

Neighborhoods

Downtown

Downtown Alexandria is currently in the process of revitalization. During the past five years, several bars, cafes, and restaurants have opened their doors, including the casual fine dining restaurant Diamond Grill, located in the renovated Schnack's Building; Finnegan's Wake, an Irish pub with nin imports/microbrews on tap; and Alex 1805, a jazz lounge featuring local art and live music. Across the street is the Hotel Bentley, built in 1908 by lumberman and local eccentric Joseph A. Bentley. The Bentley enjoyed its heyday during the 1940s and 1950s, when top brass military officials like General Dwight D. Eisenhower enjoyed their accommodations for extended periods. The Bentley, which was closed on December 12, 2004, was once one of only two four-star hotels in Louisiana. Although the hotel was set to reopen in August 2007, in time for the 100th anniversary of its construction, funding issues have made the date of reopening uncertain.

Central Alexandria

Central Alexandria is bounded by MacArthur Drive, Masonic Drive, Mason Street, the Alexandria-Pineville Expressway, and the Red River.

Northwestern Alexandria

Northwestern Alexandria comprises the area north of Louisiana Highway 28 West and MacArthur Drive and south of the Red River.

Western Alexandria

Western Alexandria is the area south of Highway 28 West, west of MacArthur Drive, and north of Versailles Boulevard and Metro Drive

Southwestern Alexandria

Southwestern Alexandria comprises the area west of Masonic Drive and south of Versailles Boulevard and Metro Drive.

Southern Alexandria

Southern Alexandria is located east of Masonic Drive and south of MacArthur Drive

Southeastern Alexandria

Southeastern Alexandria contains the area northeast of MacArthur Drive, south of Masonic Drive, Mason Street, and Alexandria-Pineville Expressway, and bordered by the Red River.

Surrounding cities and towns

Rapides Parish

Grant Parish

Government and politics

Local government

History

Following the Civil War, all public records in Alexandria had been destroyed. On September 29, 1868, the city was granted a new charter with a government consisting of a Mayor, Treasurer, and Justice of the Peace. Nine aldermen represented the four wards of the city – two from each ward and one elected at-large.

In 1912, the Lawrason Act established Alexandria municipal government in a strong mayor format, where the mayor was also the Commissioner of Public Health and Safety (Police, Fire, Sanitation). There were separate Commissioners of Streets and Parks and Finance and Utilities, elected citywide. The last to hold those positions, which ended in 1977, were Mayor John K. Snyder (1922–1993), Malcolm P. Hebert, Sr. (1926–2006), and Arnold Jack Rosenthal (1923–2010), respectively.

Today

Alexandria has a mayoral-council system of government. The Mayor serves as the executive branch of the local government. The current Mayor – Jacques Roy – was elected to office in November 2006, succeeding long-time mayor Edward Gordon "Ned" Randolph, Jr. Randolph had succeeded John K. Snyder.[23]

The City Council serves as the legislative branch. The five districts of the city are represented on the Council; in addition there are two council members elected to serve as at-large representatives of the city.

The Alexandria Court has a limited jurisdiction, consisting of the citizens of Wards 1, 2 and 8 in Rapides Parish. Within those boundaries the court has the power to hear and decide both criminal and civil cases, rule in civil cases and hand down judgment for punishment in criminal cases.

Area politics

Overall, the people of the Alexandria area tend to be conservative. Even though the majority typically elects Republicans in national elections, they vote for Democrats in local elections, many of which are not contested by the GOP[citation needed].

United States Congressional district

From 1913 to 1993, Alexandria served as the seat of Louisiana's Eighth Congressional district. A Democratic seat, it was held by the Long family for nearly half of its existence, from 1953 to 1987, broken only by the two terms of Harold B. McSween and three terms of Republican Clyde Holloway of Forest Hill. The seat was removed after the 1990 census indicated Louisiana no longer had the population to support it. The district was split among the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Congressional districts. Alexandria is now in the Fifth district and has been represented since 2003 by Rodney Alexander, a Democrat-turned-Republican.

Education

Colleges and universities

Entrance to Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville

Situated south of the city, Louisiana State University at Alexandria (or LSUA) is a regional campus of the state's flagship university system, Louisiana State University. From its establishment in 1959, the campus offered only two-year degrees; students seeking baccalaureate degrees had to commute or move to the main campus in Baton Rouge in order to gain a four-year degree. After 1976, students could either commute or telecommute in order to attend upper level courses, including graduate classes. In 2002, following approval by the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors and the Louisiana Board of Regents the Louisiana Legislature passed legislation allowing LSUA to offer baccalaureate degrees.

A four-year degree is also attainable through Southern Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville, founded in 1906.

Alexandria also has one of the Region 6 Louisiana Technical College campuses.

Primary and secondary schools

Rapides Parish School Board operates public schools.

Alexandria has three public high schools: Bolton High School, Alexandria Senior High School, and Peabody Magnet High School. In addition, there are two private high schools: the Roman Catholic Holy Savior Menard Central High School, and Grace Christian.

The Renaissance Home for Youth west of Alexandria is a haven for youthful offenders who live in a group-home setting as an alternative to reform school or adult jail. Since the facility opened in 1973, nearly 12 thousand young people have lived at the home in search of rehabilitation.[24]

Transportation

Roads

Alexandria serves as the crossroads of Louisiana. To reach either Shreveport or Monroe from the southern portion of the state, the easiest method of travel takes the driver through Alexandria. Likewise, if a visitor is to head from the northern portion of the state to the Cajun portions of the state (Lake Charles and Lafayette), or the greater metropolitan areas of either Baton Rouge or New Orleans, the easiest method of travel involves driving down Interstate 49 through Alexandria.

In addition to I-49, travelers can follow Louisiana 1 up to Alexandria from Baton Rouge and points south. Also, Highway 167 could be taken from Opelousas north to Monroe, crossing through Alexandria at one of the few bridges over the Red River in central Louisiana. Highways 165 and 71 also link Alexandria and points south with the northern portion of the state via the OK Allen bridge.

There are possible plans for a 50 mile, 4 lane beltway to encircle Alexandria and Pineville. As of now, it is only in the planning stages of development.[25]

Bridges

Three road bridges cross the Red River in the Alexandria area. They are:

Jackson Street Bridge

Former bridges include:

There are two railroad bridges over the Red River in Alexandria. One is located near the Buhlow area north of the OK Allen bridge. The other is south of the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge.

Mass transit

Regional mass transit is handled by ATRANS (Alexandria Transportation Authority).

For those leaving or arriving at the city by bus, Greyhound Lines has a terminal downtown.

Airports

Alexandria is served by the Alexandria International Airport and the Esler Regional Airport in Pineville.

Rail

Alexandria does not have Amtrak service, nor a commuter rail system. The Kansas City Southern and the Missouri Pacific (since absorbed by Union Pacific) operated train stations in the area in the early part of the 20th century but these have since closed.

Gallery

References

  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Counties/Pages/FindACounty.aspx. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  2. ^ "2010 Census". quickfacts.census.gov. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/22/2250885.html. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
  3. ^ "Fulton, Alexander". lahistory.org (Louisiana Historical Association). http://www.lahistory.org/site23.php. Retrieved October 9, 2010.
  4. ^ Community
  5. ^ John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN 0-8071-0834-0, p. 235
  6. ^ Winters, p. 331
  7. ^ Winters, pp. 331-332
  8. ^ Winters, pp. 366-367
  9. ^ Winters, pp. 367-369
  10. ^ Winters, p. 236
  11. ^ Winters, pp. 373-374
  12. ^ a b c Winters, p. 374
  13. ^ Winters, pp. 386-387
  14. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  15. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. http://geonames.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  16. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  17. ^ The Association of Religion Data Archives | Maps & Reports
  18. ^ "Alexandria Pineville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau" (notes), webpage: LAfromhere-pparty.
  19. ^ England Industrial Airpark
  20. ^ Alexandria, Louisiana LA, city profile (Rapides Parish) – hotels, festivals, genealogy, newspapers – ePodunk
  21. ^ Small Business Resources for the Entrepreneur from Inc.com
  22. ^ http://www.ifly.com/alexandria-international-airport
  23. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State Official Parish Election Results for Election Date: 11/07/06
  24. ^ "Renaissance: Our History". renaissancehome.org. http://renaissancehome.org/history/. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  25. ^ "Beltway to Loop Cenla Could Be On Its way". KALB-TV News Channel 5. May 05, 2011. http://www.kalb.com/story/14493914/beltway-to-loop-cenla-could-be-on-its-way. Retrieved 2012-10-25.

External links