Alexandria is a city in and the parish seat of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, United States. 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 147,000) which encompasses all of Rapides and Grant parishes. The population was 46,342 at the 2000 census.
The area of Alexandria, located along the Red River
, was originally home to a community supporting activities of the adjacent Spanish
outpost of Post du Rapides. The area developed as a vibrant, yet sometimes debaucherous, 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
. Alexander Fulton, a Pennsylvania
businessman, received a land grant from Spain in 1785, and the first organized settlement was made at that time. In 1805, Fulton and business partner Thomas Harris Maddox laid out the town plan and named the town after Fulton's infant daughter who died around that time. It was first incorporated as a town in 1818 and received a city charter in 1882.
The Civil War
Settled by northerners and having little culturally in common with the majority of the Old South, Alexandria found itself in a quandary during the American Civil War. Regardless of political inclinations or loyalties to North or South, its location on the Red River made the city a major strategic target. In the spring of 1863, a Union fleet under Admiral David D. Porter, operating on the Red River, cooperated with land forces under General Nathaniel Prentice Banks in pushing the Confederates westward. Alexandria was occupied on May 7, 1863, but the troops were soon withdrawn for the Port Hudson attack.
On March 19, 1864, it was again occupied by the Union forces, who made it the point of concentration for another land and naval expedition against E. Kirby Smith and Shreveport. After the check of this expedition and its abandonment, Alexandria was again vacated on May 12-13, when the city was almost entirely burned, leaving only a few homes, owned by friends of Union General Sherman, and the city's cathedral, which had been defended from fire squads by a shotgun-wielding bishop at its front door. The Union gunboats, which had passed up the river toward Shreveport at high water, were caught in its decline above the falls at Alexandria, but they were saved by a splendid piece of engineering (a dam at the falls), constructed by Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Bailey, who for this service received the Thanks of Congress and the brevet of brigadier-general of volunteers.
Geography and climate
Alexandria is located at and has an elevation of .
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of . 26.4 sq mi (68.4 km²) of it is land and 0.6 sq mi (1.5 km²) of it (2.15%) is water.
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 & Culture
As of the census
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/sq mi(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
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.
Like many other Southern cities, the largest single religious denomination in the Alexandria area is Southern Baptist. Large congregations include Emmanuel downtown on Jackson Street and Calvary off Jackson Street Extension. A significant Roman Catholic population is also present. 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 Bishop Ronald Herzog. Alexandria also has a significant number of Methodists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, as well as adherents to many other Protestant denominations. Furthermore, Alexandria has a small Jewish community.
Annual cultural events and festivals
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.
Begun in the late 1980s, Cenlabration
is 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, and watch a play or two! The festival has plenty of carnival rides available as well. Cenlabration ends with a large fireworks display.
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. It was a great success with more than 10,000 festival-goers attending the day and a half event.
RiverFest is 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.
Starting in 2007, RiverFest was cancelled due to a competing festival (Quein' on the Red) that began in late March 2006. Quein’ on the Red received many of the same cooperate sponsors that RiverFest received which ended RiverFest's run.
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 circa 1898 and is listed on the National Historic Register. It opened to the public in March 1998.
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.
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. Families come out for an evening picnic and great tunes! 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.
Circuses and other traveling performers also stage productions at the Arts Center.
Alexandria is the home of the Alexandria Aces minor league baseball team, the 2006 United League Baseball champions. They play their home games at Bringhurst Field.
Nearby is Bringhurst Golf Course, popularly known as "the nation's oldest par three course." A full-scale renovation has been planned for the near-future. 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.
- D'Randal Edwards rapper; actor, entertainer, model, porn star, exotic dancer, CEO of Throwed ENT.
- Faith Ford — Actress (D)
- Sylvan Fox (1925-2007) — founder of radio station KSYL
- Camille F. Gravel, Jr. (1915-2005) — attorney, politician and confidant of governors (D)
- Eric W. Harris (1916-2007) — businessman and founder of first Jaycees chapter in Louisiana
- Malcolm P. Hebert (1926-2006) — engineer and former city commissioner (1973-1977) (D)
- L. B. Henry (1920-2008) — former president of the Rapides Parish Police Jury; served on the jury from 1956-1960 and 1968-1992 (D)
- Ken Hollis — state senator from Jefferson Parish since 1982 (R)
- Clyde C. Holloway — former U.S. Representative (R)
- Lloyd Herbert Hughes — Medal of Honor recipient
- Ed Karst (?1931-1992) — mayor from 1969-1973 (D) turned (R) turned (D) turned No Party
- Claude Kirkpatrick (1917-1997) — former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Jefferson Davis Parish, candidate for governor in 1963, instigator of Toledo Bend Reservoir, and native of Glenmora (D)
- Carroll E. Lanier — Alexandria mayor (1977-1982) and finance commissioner (1969-1973) (D)
- Gillis William Long (1923-1985) — U.S. representative (1963-1965; 1973-1985), Long factional politician (D)
- Harry J. Longwell — Former EVP of ExxonMobil Corporation
- Thomas O. Ryder — Former Chairman and CEO of Readers Digest
- Roy O. Martin, Jr. (1922-2007) — businessman and philanthropist (R)
- Warren Morris — former college and Major League Baseball player. He is most remembered for his 9th inning walk-off home run that won the 1996 College World Series for the LSU Tigers.
- Craig Nall— Alexandria Senior High School football player. Former boyfriend of Misty Hertz, the mother of William Hertz. National Football League player for the Green Bay Packers.
- Ned Randolph — former Alexandria mayor (1986-2006) (D)
- Arnold Jack Rosenthal — attorney, businessman, former city commissioner (1973-1977) (D)
- Jock Scott — attorney, college professor, former state representative (1976-1988) (R)
- Morris Shapiro (1910-2008), former city attorney and Rapides Parish School Board member (D)
- Jerry W. Slocum, Jr. (1914-2008), established Slocum Construction Company, 1949); member of Red River, Atchafalaya, and Bayou Bouef Levee Board; sponsored nationally successful slow pitch softball teams
- Joe D. Smith, Jr. (1922-2008) — businessman and former publisher of Alexandria Daily Town Talk
- John K. Snyder (1922-1993) — former Alexandria mayor (1973-1977; 1982-1986) (D)
- Bret Vidrine — musician (folk, rock, country); nephew of businessman Tim Eads
- Gus Voltz, Jr. (1922-2008) — Alexandria attorney, former assistant district attorney for Rapides Parish, past president of the finance council of the Alexandria Roman Catholic diocese, active in civic organizations and causes
- Morgan W. Walker, Jr. (1928-2008) — diversified businessman
- Morgan W. Walker, Sr. (1893-1983) — founder of company which became Continental Trailways; large dairy farmer; banker; president of Rapides Parish School Board (D)
- Muse Watson — actor
- Clarence Cecil Williams (1922-2008) — journalist; business columnist (R)
Established March 17, 1883, The Town Talk
is a daily newspaper serving the Alexandria-Pineville communities, as well as the thirteen 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
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
. For many years in the second half of the twentieth century, the Town Talk
managing editor was Adras LaBorde
, an authority on Louisiana politics.
The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, a leading statewide newspaper, is available at numerous convenience stores in Alexandria.
Alexandria is served by local television stations KALB
), and KBCA
). KALB, the oldest television station in central Louisiana, has signed an affiliation deal with CBS
, and has begun carrying CBS programming on digital channel 5.2 / 35.2. Before then, central Louisiana viewers watched CBS on KLFY-TV
(out of Lafayette
(out of Baton Rouge
) or KNOE-TV
(based in Monroe
, before a tower collapse in March 1997).
Local radio stations
Parks and outdoor attractions
Alexandria Zoological Park
A popular attraction is the Alexandria Zoological Park Frequently praised by American zookeeper Jack Hanna, the zoo features more than six hundred animals from throughout the planet as well as an award-winning exhibit on the Louisiana habitat. Much of the credit for the quality of the zoo has been given to Robert Leslie Whitt (1951-2008), who served as director for thirty-four years prior to his death. Whitt was hired in 1974 by then Streets and Parks Commissioner Malcolm P. Hebert.
Cotile Lake Recreation Area
Cotile Lake is a man-made impoundment
located in the uplands approximately west-northwest of Alexandria, Louisiana. The lake is approximately 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 lake, of developed recreation facilities and a 250 acre (1 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
- Alexandria Memorial Gardens -- large cemetery on U.S. Highway 165 south. Other cemeteries are also available in Pineville.
- Alexandria Levee Park - a park located downtown, adjacent to the Red River, that serves as the grounds for some local festivals. It contains an amphitheatre that is used for concerts.
- Alexandria Mall - the local shopping mall located on Masonic Drive, established 1973
- Alexandria Riverfront Center - convention center located downtown
- Bringhurst Field - home of the Alexandria Aces
- Bringhurst Park - contains the Alexandria Zoo, Bringhurst Field, a playground, a golf course, and tennis courts
- Inglewood Plantation - plantation located south of Alexandria
- Kent Plantation House - French colonial plantation house
- Masonic Home - a now defunct orphanage in south Alexandria completed in 1924. The facility is being converted into an upscale residential and commercial development.
- Rapides Parish Coliseum - a multi-purpose arena used for sporting events, conventions, and other events
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 of 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
. The base now serves as Alexandria International Airport
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. 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.
Alexandria is home to two major hospitals
: Rapides Regional, a former Baptist hospital is located downtown. The Catholic Christus St. Frances Cabrini 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 1800s, 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 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 tanks, one-15,000 BBL 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
Alexandria International Airport (AEX) is one of only two international airports in Louisiana (the other is at New Orleans). In 2006 a new-state-of-the-art passenger terminal was dedicated. Alexandria is served by American, Continental, Delta and Northwest Airlines. Additionally, 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.
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 50s, 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 is bounded by MacArthur Drive, Masonic Drove, Mason Street, the Alexandria-Pineville Expressway, and the Red River.
- West End
- Garden District - contains many large historical homes and brick roads. Many of the homes in this neighborhood have been renovated and come in many architectural styles. Houses range from modest bungalows to mansions.
- Poplar Grove
- Kent Addition
- Petrus Heights
- Mimosa Place
- Shirley Park
- City Park area - location of Bringhurst Field and Alexandria Zoo
Northwestern Alexandria comprises the area north of Louisiana Highway 28 West and MacArthur Drive and south of the Red River.
- Sycamore Place
- Wooddale Park - large public housing development
- North Park Village
- Walnut Grove
- England Airpark
- Rue Left Bank
- Grundy Cooper - older middle class subdivision behind the Rapides Parish Coliseum
- St. Andrew's Links Estates - a subdivision being developed around the golf course Links on the Bayou
Western Alexandria is the area south of Highway 28 West, west of MacArthur Drive, and north of Versailles Boulevard and Metro Drive
- The Lakes District - subdivision under development that contains small lakes and long walking trails and is bounded by a nature preserve
- L. E. Deselle
- Castle Village
- Wilshire Park
- Charles Park - large development of upscale homes primarily built from the late 1960s to the early 1980s
- Hunter's Grove
- The Centre - commercial development between Jackson Street and MacArthur that contains numerous businesses. A five story office building was built in the late 1970s which now houses Red River Bank. An tall high-rise is under construction that will contain Regions Bank.
Southwestern Alexandria comprises the area west of Masonic Drive and south of Versailles Boulevard and Metro Drive.
- Plantation Acres
- Clermont Estates
- Good Earth - large middle class development built in late 1970s and early 1980s
- Cherokee Village - tree-shaded neighborhood of large older homes
- Four Leaf Village
- West Pointe on the Bayou - large upper-middle class neighborhood under development since the early 1990s, adjacent to Bayou Roberts
- Crossgates - gated community of patio homes
- Landmark - one of Alexandria's most affluent subdivisions
- Tennyson Oaks - an upper class neighborhood being developed next to Landmark adjacent to Bayou Roberts
Southern Alexandria is located east of Masonic Drive and south of MacArthur Drive
- Courtland Place
- Bayou Robert - affluent cul-de-sac bordered by Bayou Robert
- Horseshoe Gardens
- Deerfield - middle class development built in 1970's
- Martin Park - combination of middle to upper-class houses built from the 1960s to 1970's
- Collins Estates
- Airview Terrace
- Trail Ridge
- Willow Glen
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.
- Alexandria Mall area - retail center of Alexandria
- Wedgewood Downs
- Bacon Place
- Sonia Quarters - large working class neighborhood containing many shotgun-style homes
- Samtown - largely African-American impoverished neighborhood that was annexed by former Mayor John K. Snyder in the early 1970s
- Lower Third
- Acadian Village
- Alsace Lorraine
Surrounding cities and towns
Government and politics
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 Snyder, Malcolm P. Hebert, and Arnold Jack Rosenthal, respectively.
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
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.
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.
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
and Sixth Congressional districts
. Alexandria is now in the Fifth district and has been represented since 2003 by Rodney Alexander
, a Democrat-turned-Republican.
Colleges and universities
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 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.
Alexandria serves as the crossroads of Louisiana
. To reach either Shreveport
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
), or the greater metropolitan areas of either Baton Rouge
or New Orleans
, the easiest method of travel involves driving down Interstate 49
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.
Three road bridges cross the Red River in the Alexandria area. They are:
- The Purple Heart Memorial Bridge. Part of the Alexandria-Pineville Expressway (also referred to as the Cottingham Expressway), it connects Interstate 49 to Highway 167 by crossing the Red River from downtown Alexandria to Pineville. It replaced the Fulton Street Bridge and has six lanes of traffic. Designed by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD), the bridge cost $15.9 million in federal and state funds. The northbound portion was completed in 1995, the southbound in 1998.
- The U.S. 165 Business Bridge (alternatively, the Gillis Long Bridge, the Red River Bridge or the Jackson Street Bridge) connecting downtown Pineville with the business district in Alexandria. It is a two-lane vertical-lift bridge with a sidewalk/bikepath on either side. The bridge is named after U.S. Representative Gillis Long, who represented Louisiana's Eighth Congressional District. It was built in 1985 to replace the Murray Street Bridge.
- The Oscar K. Allen Bridge connecting Highway 165/71 on both sides of the Red River. It is a two-lane K-truss type bridge, named after Governor Oscar K. Allen. It was built in 1936 to connect Alexandria to the (former) Fort Buhlow.
Former bridges include:
- The Murray Street Bridge. One of the first bridges in Alexandria. A two-lane steel truss swing bridge, it decayed over time, finally being demolished in 1983. The approach on the Alexandria side was turned into a river overlook as part of the Alexandria Levee Park.
- The Fulton Street Bridge. Named after Fulton Street which it connected with Highway 167. Technically part of the Alexandria-Pineville Expressway, it was a four-lane steel vertical-lift bridge. It was demolished in 1994 to make way for the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge.
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.
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.
Alexandria is served by the Alexandria International Airport
and the Esler Regional Airport
Alexandria does not have a commuter rail system. Kansas City-Southern and Missouri-Pacific operated train stations in the area in the early part of the twentieth century but these have since closed.