Baton Rouge (bătˈən rōzh) [key] [Fr., = red stick], city (1990 pop. 219,531), state capital and seat of East Baton Rouge parish, SE La., on a bluff along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River; inc. 1817. It is a busy deepwater port of entry; an important transportation, distribution, and commercial center for a large oil, natural gas, and farm area; and a major oil-refining hub. The petrochemical and fuel corporation ExxonMobil has large facilities and is one of Baton Rouge's major employers. Manufactures include concrete products, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, chemicals, plastics, and resins.
Baton Rouge was founded in 1719 when the French built a fort on the strategic riverside location. The settlement was ceded to Great Britain in 1762, captured by the Spanish in 1779, and acquired by the United States in 1815 (following a brief period when it was a part of Spanish Florida). It became state capital in 1849. In the Civil War it was captured by David Farragut after the fall of New Orleans (May, 1862); a Confederate attempt to recover it failed (Aug., 1862).
The city has notable antebellum houses. The old capitol (1882), built in the Gothic style of the original, which was burned in the Civil War, still stands; a new 34-story capitol was completed in 1932. Also of interest are the governor's mansion, the old arsenal museum, the retired destroyer Kidd, and the Huey Long grave and memorial. The city has an arts and science center (with a planetarium), several museums, a zoo, and a symphony orchestra. It is the seat of Louisiana State Univ. and Agricultural and Mechanical College and of Southern Univ. and Agricultural and Mechanical College.