Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana
|Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana|
Plaquemines County Courthouse
Location in the state of Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
|Named for||Louisiana French word for persimmons|
|Seat||Pointe à la Hache|
|Largest city||Belle Chasse|
|• Total||2,429 sq mi (6,290 km2)|
|• Land||845 sq mi (2,187 km2)|
|• Water||1,584 sq mi (4,102 km2), 65.22%|
|• Density||32/sq mi (12/km²)|
|Time zone||Central: UTC-6/-5|
Plaquemines Parish (//; Louisiana French: Paroisse des Plaquemines) is the parish with the most combined land and water area in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census the population is 23,042. The parish seat is Pointe à la Hache.
The name "Plaquemines" was derived from the Atakapa word, piakimin, meaning persimmon in French Creole. The French used it to name a military post they built on the banks of the Mississippi, as the site was surrounded by numerous persimmon trees. Eventually the name was applied to the entire parish and to a nearby bayou.
The oldest European settlement in the parish was La Balize, where the French built and inhabited a crude fort by 1699 near the mouth of the Mississippi River. The name in French meant "seamark", a tall structure of wood built as a guide for ships. The French built one 62 feet (19 m) high by 1721. A surviving map from about 1720 shows the island and fort, and the mouth of the river.
As traffic and trade on the river increased, so did the importance of river pilots who were knowledgeable about the complicated, ever-changing currents and sandbars in the river. They lived at La Balize with their families. The village was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, but it was abandoned for good after the destruction of a September 1860 hurricane. The pilots moved upriver and built the settlement they named Pilottown, which reached its peak of population in the 19th century. The river pilots' expertise continues to be critical, but now they generally live with their families in more populated areas, and stay at Pilottown temporarily for work.
An important historical site is Fort Jackson, built in 1822 as recommended by General Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. In 1861, Fort Jackson served as an important Confederate defense for the city of New Orleans during the Civil War because it was at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The US Army used it as a training base during World War I, 1917-1918.
Plaquemines is one of only two parishes that have kept their same boundaries from the beginning of Louisiana's parishes in 1807 to today, the other being St. Bernard Parish.
Because Plaquemines Parish encompasses the last 70 miles (110 km) of the Mississippi River before it reaches the Gulf of Mexico, it is the site of several oil refineries, which rely on the shipping lanes for moving their product. The Mississippi River Delta of Plaquemines is also a base for assistance to offshore oil rigs. Plaquemines Parish was the first place in the United States where shippers used a container for cargo in foreign trade. The area is also known for having the most southern point in Louisiana, at just under 29 degrees north. To be further south in the United States, a person would have to be in Texas, Florida, or Hawaii.
In the early 1900s, Plaquemines was an exporter of citrus. Farmers used the railroads and the Mississippi to ship the large annual harvest to markets. Commercial fisheries, especially for oysters, have been important in the parish economy.
The Great Hurricane of 1915 devastated much of the Parish, with multiple levee breaches on both sides of the Mississippi, a 12-foot storm surge, and hundreds of deaths. Homelessness was widespread, and many people were reduced to starvation until charitable aid arrived. The old Parish Courthouse in Pointe à la Hache was among the many buildings destroyed in the storm, but a new one was completed within the year.
From 1919 to 1969, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes were effectively the domain of the political boss Leander Perez, who established a virtual dictatorship in the area. He was notorious for fixing elections and enforcing strict racial segregation. Upon his death, his sons Leander Perez Jr. and Chalin Perez were elected as the dominant political figures of the parish as district attorney and parish president, respectively. Interpersonal feuding weakened the family's hold on power, and by 1980, political opponents had begun to win local elections.
During the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, city and state leaders used dynamite to breach a levee at Caernarvon, thirteen miles (19 km) below Canal Street, in order to save the city of New Orleans from flooding. This action resulted in the flooding of much of the less-populated St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, causing widespread destruction to agriculture and housing.
In 1965 Hurricane Betsy damaged the area, flooding many buildings, including the Parish Courthouse, and causing nine deaths. Leander Perez sealed off the Parish from the outside world, while trying to control state assistance.
The parish includes three U.S. National Historic Landmarks:
The parish has five other sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including Woodland Plantation, which has been depicted on the label of Southern Comfort whiskey since the 1930s. Woodland Plantation is an antebellum mansion located in West Pointe à la Hache, on the West Bank of Plaquemines. It is now operated as a bed and breakfast.
Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana on August 29, 2005, resulting in one of the worst disasters in United States history; it severely damaged all of Southeast Louisiana. Martial law was not declared in Plaquemines, contrary to many media reports, as no such term exists in Louisiana state law . No place escaped without some damage, while most of Plaquemines, Orleans and the neighbouring St. Bernard parishes were severely hit. The towns of Pointe à la Hache, Port Sulphur, Buras-Triumph, Empire, Boothville-Venice, Phoenix, and Venice, Louisiana suffered catastrophic damage. Amidst heavy rains accompanied by hurricane-force winds in excess of 120 mph (190 km/h) at initial landfall (with a Category 5 storm surge), the levees failed and broke. The storm surge that flowed in was more than 20 feet (6.1 m) high. Although a majority of the populace had complied with mandatory state evacuation orders, some did not, possibly because they were not able to. At least three residents died.
The parish has a total area of 2,429 square miles (6,290 km²), of which, 845 square miles (2,187 km²) of it is land and 1,584 square miles (4,102 km²) of it (65.22%) is water.
Adjacent parishes and features
Plaquemines Parish is bordered to the south and southeast by the Gulf of Mexico.
||Orleans Parish||St. Bernard Parish|
|Gulf of Mexico||Gulf of Mexico|
National protected areas
Plaquemines has a significant seafood industry. The parish exports millions of pounds of shrimp, crab, oysters, and fish annually. Plaquemines also has a vibrant citrus industry.
As of 2012, Plaquemines parish is the largest crude oil producing parish in Louisiana. It produced over 14 million barrels in 2012.
The seafood and citrus industries have suffered somewhat in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. About half the shrimping and shellfish fleet were lost. In January 2007, thousands of citrus trees went unpicked.
Plaquemines Port is one of the largest ports in the United States, handling mostly domestic traffic. The Plaquemines Port, Harbor & Terminal District is coextensive with the parish, and was created in 1954 by the legislature of Louisiana as a state agency. It is governed by a committee of the Plaquemines Parish Council, acting as the Port Board.
Oil and gas continue to play a dominant role in the Plaquemines economy; however, there is a growing policy and resource trend in favor of renewable resources. The Parish government is currently working with public and private partners to invest in renewable energy, including hydrokinetic energy and wind energy. Plaquemines has a huge potential for hydrokinetic energy sites along deep bends in the Mississippi River. The flow of the river is 470,000 cubic feet per second at the Head of Passes during normal river stages and 1,250,000 during peak times. Tidal turbines would be placed in deep bend of the river below seagoing and barge traffic. The turbines would also be located below the usual migrating routes of fish. Four companies looking to install turbines are in the regulatory and permitting stages.
The potential installation of wind turbines at the mouth of the Mississippi River is also being considered. The capacity of a wind source to produce energy is generally measured by Wind Power Density. Wind Power Densities are then broken into seven Wind Power Classes. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Plaquemines currently has winds in specified areas that fall into a Wind Power Class of seven, which make the Parish a particularly attractive location for wind turbine investment. Wind turbines would likely be placed at the mouth of the Mississippi where winds are the strongest. Wind Energy Systems Technology has proposed to build a 12.5 MV wind farm in Barataria Bay off the coast of Plaquemines Parish. The energy would be sent to Myrtle Gove through an underground cable. The wind farm would be supplemented with natural gas turbines when wind speeds are either not sufficient enough or too robust to supply power. A similar proposal is being considered for the southern portion of the Parish.
As of the census of 2000, there were 26,757 people, 9,021 households, and 7,000 families residing in the parish. The population density was 32 people per square mile (12/km²). There were 10,481 housing units at an average density of 12 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 69.77% White, 23.39% Black or African American, 2.07% Native American, 2.62% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.73% from other races, and 1.42% from two or more races. 1.62% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 2.22% reported speaking French or Creole French at home.
There were 9,021 households out of which 39.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.50% were married couples living together, 14.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.40% were non-families. 18.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.30.
In the parish the population was spread out with 29.20% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 30.50% from 25 to 44, 21.40% from 45 to 64, and 9.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 99.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.30 males.
The median income for a household in the parish was $38,173, and the median income for a family was $42,610. Males had a median income of $37,245 versus $21,691 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $15,937. About 15.40% of families and 18.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.70% of those under age 18 and 18.40% of those age 65 or over.
There are no incorporated areas within Plaquemines Parish.
Plaquemines Parish School Board operates the public schools of the parish.
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- David Roth, "Louisiana Hurricane History: 18th Century (1722-1800)", Tropical Weather - National Weather Service - Lake Charles, LA; 24 Jun 2003, accessed 7 May 2008
- "Carte du Fleuve Saint Louis ou Mississippy dix lieues au dessous de la Novelle Orleans jusqu'a son Embouchoure", Louisiana State Museum Map Database, accessed 6 May 2008
- David Roth, "Louisiana Hurricane History: Late 19th Century (1851-1900)", Tropical Weather - National Weather Service - Lake Charles, LA; Jun 2003, accessed 6 May 2008
- "Louisiana Hurricanes", The Cajuns
- "Hurricane of 1915: Plaquemines Parish History"
- Glen Jeansonne, Leander Perez: Boss of the Delta,
- Glen Jeansonne, Leander Perez: Boss of the Delta, p. 354
- "History" on the Plaquemines Port Harbor & Terminal District website
- "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". Census.gov. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.|
- Official website
- Images of destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in the parish (Photos taken August 31, 2005)
- Water Resources of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana United States Geological Survey