Westwego, Louisiana

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Westwego, Louisiana
City of Westwego
Flag of Westwego, Louisiana
Location of Westwego in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Westwego in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Coordinates: 29°54′11″N 90°08′35″W / 29.90306°N 90.14306°W / 29.90306; -90.14306Coordinates: 29°54′11″N 90°08′35″W / 29.90306°N 90.14306°W / 29.90306; -90.14306[1]
CountryUnited States
 • MayorJoe Peoples (D)[2][3]
 • Total3.59 sq mi (9.29 km2)
 • Land3.11 sq mi (8.05 km2)
 • Water0.48 sq mi (1.25 km2)
Elevation0 ft (0 m)
 • Total8,534
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,746.38/sq mi (1,060.35/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)504
FIPS code22-81165

Westwego is a city in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States, and a suburb of New Orleans. The population was 8,534 at the 2010 census.[6] It lies along the west bank of the Mississippi River.


Westwego is located at 29°54′11″N 90°8′35″W / 29.90306°N 90.14306°W / 29.90306; -90.14306 (29.902986, -90.142932).[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.2 km²), of which 3.1 square miles (8.3 km²) is land and 0.5 square mile (1.0 km²) (10.64%) is water.[6]


One story states generally that Westwego was so named because it was a major crossing point on the Mississippi river during the great westward movement of the late 19th century. When travelers were asked their destination, they would often reply "west we go". Another more specific tale, recounted in John Churchill Chase's Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children[7] is that the name was the specific outcome of an 1871 meeting of a railroad board of directors in New York, where planning was undertaken to use the site as an eastern terminus ("...west we go from there"). There has been further speculation that this use of "Westwego" as a place name may have been influenced by the board members' familiarity with the name of Oswego, New York.


The area of Westwego, Louisiana was inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years before Europeans settled here. These indigenous people created huge shell middens that can still be seen in the vicinity today. The French first developed the area in 1719 when French Minister of State LeBlanc started a plantation and a port along the Mississippi River. The port became an important site in the history of the transatlantic slave trade. The estate was later owned by the Zeringue family, who turned it into bustling sugar plantation, known as Seven Oaks. Planter Camille Zeringue built a canal at the plantation that played a prominent role in the community's history for decades. Other antebellum plantations in the area included the Whitehouse Plantation, Magnolia Lane, and the LaBranche Plantation among others. After Camille Zeringue's death, Seven Oaks was owned by Pablo Sala, who divided the property along the canal into lots, which he sold for $40 each. Many of these lots were purchased by displaced hurricane victims from Cheniere Caminada whose homes were destroyed in the great unnamed 1893 storm. With the addition of these families, who were mostly fisherman and trappers, the community of Salaville was born.

Salaville grew and the local railroad barons coined the name "Westwego". A number of industries grew around the city's wetlands and bayous, including those involving fisheries, shrimping, the canning of seafood, etc. Westwego was incorporated as a city in 1951 as its population continued to grow and grow. Within the last decade,[when?] Westwego has taken on a number of historical restoration projects, inspired by historian Daniel P. Alario, Sr.

Grain elevator explosion[edit]

On December 23, 1977, the Continental Grain Elevator in Westwego exploded. The explosion and resulting collapse of the elevator killed 36 people and injured at least 11 others. Most of the fatalities were caused by a concrete tower collapsing onto an office building, where workers were gathered for a Christmas party. The explosion is believed to have been caused by the ignition of grain dust. The blast caused silos to fall and lean against each over in essentially a domino effect. The accident is the deadliest grain elevator accident in history. The Westwego accident, along with other explosions that occurred within the two-year period, led to new regulations for preventing dust explosions.[8][9]


Westwego holds a weekly farmers market on Sala Avenue, featuring fresh produce, barbecue, and local bands.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20188,428[5]−1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census[10] of 2010, there were 8,534 people, 3,811 households, and 2,450 families residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 78.16% White, 14.02% African American, 2.94% Native American, 1.58% Asian, 1.01% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.59% of the population.

There were 4,211 households out of which 32.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 20.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.3% were non-families. 26.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the city, the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,218, and the median income for a family was $31,187. Males had a median income of $29,398 versus $18,916 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,160. About 17.9% of families and 22.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.7% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

Westwego Post Office

The United States Postal Service operates the Westwego Post Office.[11]


Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego

The public schools in Westwego are operated by the Jefferson Parish Public School System.[12][13]

Elementary schools taking portions of Westwego include Myrtle C. Thibodeaux Elementary School (formerly Westwego Elementary School) in Westwego, Joshua Butler Elementary School in Westwego, and Bridge City Elementary School in Bridge City (an unincorporated area).[14] Middle school Westwego residents are zoned to Worley Middle School in Westwego,[15] and high school residents are zoned to Higgins High School in an unincorporated area.[16]

Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic School is a private Catholic school in the city.

Jefferson Parish Library operates the Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego.[17]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Westwego, Louisiana". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. June 4, 1980. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
  2. ^ Challenger Joe Peoples defeated incumbent Mayor John Shaddinger to win the city leadership post. Both are Democrats. U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
  3. ^ "Landrieu's GOP Endorsements Pale In Comparison To 2008 Election". thehayride.com. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  4. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 2, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  7. ^ Chase, J C: Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children and Other Streets of New Orleans, page 171. Touchstone, 1979
  8. ^ "40 years ago today: Continental Grain elevator explosion". WWL. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  9. ^ "Westwego, LA Grain Elevator Explosion, Dec 1977 | GenDisasters ... Genealogy in Tragedy, Disasters, Fires, Floods Page 1". www.gendisasters.com. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  11. ^ "Post Office Location - WESTWEGO." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on September 26, 2010.
  12. ^ "Map" (Archive). City of Westwego. Retrieved on May 19, 2014.
  13. ^ "2010 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP (INDEX): Westwego city, LA" (Archive). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 19, 2014.
  14. ^ "Elementary School Districts 2012-2013 West Bank of Jefferson Parish Louisiana" (Archive). Jefferson Parish Public Schools. Retrieved on May 18, 2014.
  15. ^ "Middle School Districts 2012-2013 West Bank of Jefferson Parish Louisiana" (Archive). Jefferson Parish Public Schools. Retrieved on May 18, 2014.
  16. ^ "High School Districts 2012-2013 West Bank of Jefferson Parish Louisiana" (Archive). Jefferson Parish Public Schools. Retrieved on May 18, 2014.
  17. ^ "Edith S. Lawson Library in Westwego." Jefferson Parish Library. Retrieved on September 28, 2010.
  18. ^ "In Memory of Sherman Bernard, Sr". obits.dignitymemorial.com. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
  19. ^ "Robert E. Billiot". house.louisiana.gov. Retrieved May 4, 2015.

External links[edit]