St. Tammany Parish (Paroisse de Saint-Tammany) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana, in the New Orleans metropolitan area. The parish seat is Covington. As of 2000, the population was 191,268. In 2004, the population was estimated to have grown to 212,000, and after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina the following year, the population was estimated by St. Tammany Planners to be about 264,000. Most new residents are thought to have come from St. Bernard Parish. If correct, these figures make St. Tammany Parish the fastest-growing parish in the state, overtaking Livingston and Ascension parishes.
The Moon Handbooks New Orleans: Including Cajun Country and the River Road, published in 2007, stated that people wanting to live in close proximity to New Orleans without living in New Orleans will likely cause the population of St. Tammany Parish to increase.
St. Tammany was originally inhabited by numerous Indian peoples, including the Colapissas, Bayou Goulas, Chickasaw, Biloxi, Choctaw, and Pensacola nations (although, Frederick S. Ellis, in his book St. Tammany Parish: L’autre Côté du Lac, claims that the regionally prominent Choctaw tribe did not arrive to the area until after it had begun to be settled by Europeans).
After the founding and development of New Orleans, French settlers began to enter the region. Their primary industry was the production of pitch, tar, turpentine and resin from the forests.
After the French were defeated in the French and Indian War, St. Tammany (like the surrounding regions of the Florida Parishes) became part of English West Florida. Then, after Britain was defeated in the American Revolutionary War, West Florida was governed by the Spanish. During the West Florida period, St. Tammany, like the rest of West Florida, attracted British loyalists who wanted to escape persecution in the 13 colonies. The West Florida period ended with the West Florida Revolt, which preceded West Florida's annexation by the United States.
In 1810, President James Madison claimed West Florida as part of Louisiana and sent William C.C. Claiborne to claim the territory. Claiborne established the boundaries of the Florida Parishes, including St. Tammany. St. Tammany was named after Indian Chief Tamanend.
Before 1834, there were only two towns in St. Tammany: Covington, a retreat with summer homes and hotels; and Madisonville, a shipbuilding and sawmill town. The area south to Lake Ponchartrain all the way to the Pearl River were known as the Covington Lowlands, this includes Mandeville, Abita Springs, Lacombe, Slidell, and Pearl River. Mandeville was developed that year as a health resort for wealthy New Orleanians, because they believed that Ozone was emitted from the numerous trees in the area and became an immediate success, spurring the development of another resort community, Abita Springs. A railroad connected the towns to Mandeville and further to New Orleans, allowing for a burgeoning of growth in Abita Springs, where underground spring waters furnished supposedly healthful baths for public use.
While the economy of the Greater New Orleans Metro area began to have several major problems,(very high taxes on the middle class) the middle and upper classes began to move further and further from New Orleans, eventually moving across Lake Pontchartrain to the then mostly rural St. Tammany. Population and economic growth accelerated after 1956, when the first span of the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway bridge was completed. The population exceeded 200,000 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's landfall in 2005.
As of the census of 2000, there were 191,268 people, 69,253 households, and 52,701 families residing in the parish. The population density was 224 people per square mile (86/km²). There were 75,398 housing units at an average density of 88 per square mile (34/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 87.03% White, 9.90% Black or African American, 0.43% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.61% from other races, and 1.26% from two or more races. 2.48% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 69,253 households out of which 39.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.40% were married couples living together, 11.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.90% were non-families. 19.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the parish the population was spread out with 28.40% under the age of 18, 7.30% from 18 to 24, 29.90% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 10.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.40 males.
The median income for a household in the parish was $47,883, and the median income for a family was $55,346. Males had a median income of $41,876 versus $25,996 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $22,514. About 7.60% of families and 9.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.80% of those under age 18 and 10.10% of those age 65 or over.