One of Louisiana’s particular features that makes the state such an attractive tourist destination is its colorful and deep history. Shreveport has been a vibrant juncture and a prime focus for economic development for ideas and people. In 1836, Shreveport was founded by the Shreve Town Company, a company formed to establish a town at the crossroad of the Red River which was newly navigable and the Texas Trail, a cross-country route into the newly liberated Republic of Texas and, before that time, towards Mexico.
Captain Henry Miller Shreve, commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers, cleared the 180 miles long mass of debris or the logjam known as the “Great Raft” that obstructed the Red River’s channel. The village of Shreve and the Shreve Town Company was named in honor of Captain Henry Miller Shreve. The Shreve Town village was incorporated on March 20, 1839 as the town of Shreveport.
Shreveport, in 1871, was incorporated as a city. The original boundaries of the city were contained inside a 64-block land situated just west of the Red River which was sold by the indigenous Caddo Indians to the Shreve Town Company in 1835. The Natchitoches Parish carved out the Caddo Parish and Shreve Town was named as the parish seat; in present-day Louisiana, Shreveport remains as the Caddo Parish’s parish seat.
The 64 city blocks that consisted of the original site of the town are divided by 8 streets that run south of the Red River’s tributary, Cross Bayou, and 8 streets that run west of the Red River. This 64 block zone, currently, is the central business district of the city and is a listed district in the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout the 1800s, Shreveport’s growth and economy were focused on the river and based on the commerce of steamboats. The early key industries of the city include manufacturing, lumber, cotton, and other agricultural crops.
Shreveport and Bossier City, Shreveport’s smaller sister city, together have several landmarks and 6 historic districts registered on the National Register. Among the cities in Louisiana with multiple historic landmarks, Shreveport is secondary to New Orleans. One of these historic landmarks includes a waterworks constructed in 1887, the McNeill Pumping Station, which is still in use and is famed as a unique of its kind in the nation. The McNeill Pumping Station is listed on the national historical destination’s highest level, the National Historic Landmarks.
Until 1914, the Red River remained navigable before it was disused, due to the rise of the railroad as the favored means of transporting people and goods. As businesses started relying on railroads to ship their goods and products, the Red River was once again obstructed by the debris accumulation resulting from the declining steamboat traffic. The Red River was subjected to restoration in 1994 which renewed the area of Shreveport-Bossier as a shipping center and thriving port.
As the river opened again for steamboats, riverboat gambling was reinstated to the port which draws massive degrees of tourism revenue to this day. Barksdale Army Air Field is also a national landmark situated in metro Shreveport and was opened in 1933. Barksdale abode one of the Air Force’s largest bomb wings and the influential Eighth Air Force which played a vital part in World War II.
Shreveport offers countless ways to explore the rich history of the city, in numerous museums, artifacts, works of art, landmarks, and historic structures. The careful restoration and preservation of these artifacts and sites have created many rare opportunities for tourists to experience the history of Shreveport and gain an understanding of the diverse cultures that still continues to influence the city today.