Lafayette, Louisiana

Lafayette (/ˌlɑːfˈɛt, ˌlæf-/, French: [lafajɛt]) is a city in and the parish seat of Lafayette Parish, Louisiana,[4] located along the Vermilion River in the southwestern part of the state. The city of Lafayette is the fourth-largest in the state, with a population of 126,143 according to 2018 U.S. Census estimates.[3] It is the principal city of the Lafayette, Louisiana Metropolitan Statistical Area, with a 2015 estimated population of 490,488. The larger trade area or Combined Statistical Area of Lafayette-Opelousas-Morgan City CSA was 627,146 in 2015.[5] Its nickname is The Hub City.

Lafayette, Louisiana

Ville de Lafayette, Louisiane
City of Lafayette
From upper left: Statue in front of downtown fire station, oak-lined street in the university district, Downtown Lafayette, Cajundome, and University of Louisiana at Lafayette quad.

The Hub City
The Heart of Cajun Country
Location of Lafayette in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Lafayette in Louisiana
Coordinates: 30°13′N 92°2′W
CountryUnited States
Founded1821 as Vermilionville
Renamed1884 as Lafayette
Founded byJean Mouton
Named forGeneral Gilbert du Motier, Marquis De Lafayette
  TypeConsolidated City-Parish
  Mayor-PresidentJoel Robideaux (R)
  City Total53.91 sq mi (139.63 km2)
  Land53.81 sq mi (139.37 km2)
  Water0.10 sq mi (0.26 km2)  auto%
5,252 sq mi (13,600 km2)
36 ft (11 m)
  City Total120,623
  RankUS: 214th
  Density2,371.75/sq mi (915.74/km2)
252,720 (US: 148th)
490,488 (US: 108th)
627,146 (US: 77th)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
  Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
70501–9, 70593, 70596, 70598
Area code(s)337
FIPS code22-40735


The Attakapas Native Americans inhabited this area at the time of the first European encounter. French colonists founded the first European settlement, Petit Manchac, a trading post along the Vermilion River.[6] In the mid-to-late eighteenth century, numerous Acadian refugees settled in this area, after being expelled from Canada after Great Britain defeated France in the Seven Years' War. They intermarried with other settlers, forming what became known as Cajun culture, which maintained use of the French language and adherence to the Roman Catholic Church.

Jean Mouton, an Acadian settler, donated land to the Catholic church for construction of a small Catholic chapel at this site. In 1824 this area was selected for the Lafayette Parish seat and was named Vermilionville, for its location on the river. In 1836 the Louisiana Legislature approved its incorporation.

The area was initially developed by Europeans for agriculture, primarily sugar plantations, which depended on the labor of numerous enslaved Africans and African Americans. They made up a large percentage of the Antebellum-era population.[6] According to U.S. Census data, in 1830 some 41 percent of the population of Lafayette Parish was enslaved.[7] By 1860, the enslaved percentage of the parish population had increased to 49.6 percent. A percentage of free people of color lived in Lafayette Parish as well; they made up three percent, to a low of 2.4 percent between 1830 and 1860.

In 1884, Vermilionville was renamed for General Lafayette, a French aristocrat who had fought with and significantly aided the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.[8] The city and parish economy continued to be based on agriculture into the early 20th century. After the Civil War, most of the labor was done by freedmen, who worked as sharecroppers. From the 1930s, mechanization of agriculture began to reduce the need for farm workers.[9]

In the 1940s, after oil was discovered in the parish, the petroleum and natural gas industries expanded to dominate the economy.

Lafayette is considered to be the center of Acadiana, the area of Cajun culture in the state. It is also a center of Louisiana Creole culture. The Cajun culture developed among settlers here over the decades and centuries following the relocation of Acadians after their expulsion by the British from eastern Canada in the late 18th century following France's defeat in the Seven Years' War. There is also a strong Louisiana Creole influence in the area, as this mixed-race population became landowners and businesspeople.[10]


Lafayette is located at 30°13′N 92°2′W (30.2139, −92.0294)[11] and has an elevation of 36 feet (11.0 m).[12] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 49.2 square miles (127 km2), of which 49.1 square miles (127 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.19%) is water.

Lafayette is located on the West Gulf Coastal Plain. The site was part of the seabed during the earlier Quaternary Period. During this time, the Mississippi River cut a 325-foot-deep (99 m) valley between what is now Lafayette and Baton Rouge. This valley was filled and is now the Atchafalaya Basin. Lafayette is located on the western rim of this valley.

This is part of the southwestern Louisiana Prairie Terrace; it is higher and not made of wetlands like much of the surrounding areas to the south and west of Lafayette. Lafayette does not suffer significant flooding problems, outside of local flash flooding. Lafayette has developed on both sides of the Vermilion River. Other significant waterways in the city are Isaac Verot Coulee, Coulee Mine, Coulee des Poches, and Coulee Ile des Cannes, which are natural drainage canals that lead to the Vermilion River.


Lafayette's climate is described as humid subtropical using Köppen climate classification. Lafayette has year-round precipitation, especially during summertime. Lafayette's highest temperature was 107 °F (42 °C). Lafayette has hot, moist summers and warm, damp winters.

Climate data for Lafayette, Louisiana
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 89
Average high °F (°C) 64
Average low °F (°C) 43
Record low °F (°C) 10
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.0
Source: Weatherbase[13]


Historical population
Est. 2018126,143[3]4.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[14]

As of the census[15] of 2010, there were 120,623 people, 43,506 households, and 27,104 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,316.7 people per square mile (894.5/km²). There were 46,865 housing units at an average density of 984.7 per square mile (380.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 68.23% White, 28.51% African American, 0.25% Native American, 1.44% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.58% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.88% of the population. In 2010, 84.2% of the population over the age of five spoke English at home, and 11.5% of the population spoke French or Cajun French, a dialect that developed in Louisiana.[16]

There were 43,506 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.9% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.7% were non-families. Nearly 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,996, and the median income for a family was $47,783. Males had a median income of $37,729 versus $23,606 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,031. About 11.6% of families and 16.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.3% of those under age 18 and 14.5% of those age 65 or over.

Education and healthcare

Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

The public schools in the parish are run by the Lafayette Parish School System. The system has 45 schools; 25 elementary schools, 12 middle schools, and eight high schools. The LPSS offers nine career academies at the high school level, school curricula designed to prepare students in certain career fields.[17]

Private schools

Lafayette is home to a large Roman Catholic population. They support many private parochial schools, with grades from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Universities and colleges

Lafayette has one university, one community college, and two vocational colleges.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is part of the University of Louisiana System, a national research institution, home to more than 18,000 students, 100+ programs, and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. It is the second-largest university in the state. Schools and colleges related to the institution have been located in Lafayette since 1898.

One of the newest college systems in Louisiana, South Louisiana Community College, is headquartered in Lafayette. SLCC partnered with Acadian Ambulance to form the National EMS Academy, which offers EMT-Basic and EMT-Paramedic certification. SLCC is part of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.[18] Louisiana Technical College (Lafayette campus) is part of the Louisiana Technical College system,[19] which in turn is part of the Louisiana Community and Technical college system. It offers associate degrees in several fields.[20] is a vocational school that offers a few bachelor's degree programs, many associate degree programs, along with a few diploma programs.

Public library system


Lafayette's major healthcare facilities are:

  • Lafayette General Medical Center
  • Lafayette General Surgical Hospital
  • Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital
  • University Hospital and Clinics (formerly University Medical Center, and now part of the LGH system)
  • Women's and Children's Hospital
  • Lafayette General Orthopaedic Hospital – (Formerly The Regional Medical Center of Acadiana)
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center
  • Heart Hospital of Lafayette
  • Park Place Surgical Hospital
  • Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS) or Cardiovascular Institute of the South

Government and politics

See also Notable local politicians

Since the consolidation of city and parish governments, Lafayette's chief executive is known as the city-parish president. Republican Joel Robideaux was elected to this office most recently.

Some residents did not like the consolidated government, but in 2011, parish voters rejected a proposal to separate parish and city governments. Under consolidation, the City of Lafayette and Parish of Lafayette have a common representative body and executive officer. Public Works and other services, such as Land Use and Plat Review, are operated by Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG) to serve the City of Lafayette and unincorporated areas of Lafayette Parish and by contract some, but not all, of the area municipalities. Zoning Rules apply only within the City of Lafayette.[21]

Some neighboring municipalities have adopted their own planning and zoning protocols. The suburban and rural cities and towns maintain independent city councils, local executives, police and fire departments, as well as other public services. The Lafayette Parish School System operates independently of any municipality, and its jurisdiction is coterminous with the Parish of Lafayette.[22]

Lafayette is also home to a regional office of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and the headquarters of the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL), the state agency which oversees preservation and documentation of Louisiana French for tourism, economic development, culture, education, and the development of international relations with other Francophone regions and countries.[23]

Law enforcement

Lafayette is served by five police agencies:

  • Lafayette City Police (LPD)- The main municipal police department of the city
  • Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office (LPSO) – The parish level police agency
  • University Police (ULPD) – The police force of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • Lafayette City Marshal – The City Marshal
  • Lafayette Park Police enforce state jurisdiction and local ordinance for the city and parish owned recreational facilities and surrounding neighborhoods in the City and Parish of Lafayette.
  • Note: City Police and Parish Sheriff's office were not combined during consolidation.


Lafayette is home to the National Guard headquarters of the 256th Infantry Brigade, a military unit of more than 3,000 soldiers. The unit served in Iraq in the years of 2004–2005. The brigade was deployed again in January 2010.[24]

Until 2014, Lafayette was also home to the United States Marine Corps Reserve Unit, F. Co. Anti-Terrorism Battalion commanded by Captain Cole Clements. This unit went on several deployments, many related to the Iraq War. In 2014 F. Co. Anti-Terrorism Battalion was decommissioned, to be replaced with H&S Co. Det. 4 4th Tanks Tow and Scouts, 4th MARDIV.[24]


  • Electricity, water, and waste water

Lafayette is served by Lafayette Utilities System (LUS), a city-parish government-run, publicly owned utility company. This city-owned public water and electricity utility was created in 1897.[25][26]

Both electricity and water services have been continuously provided by LUS to the residents of the City of Lafayette since that time. LUS has expanded to provide electricity, drinking water, and sewage treatment throughout the City of Lafayette, and to some unincorporated parts of Lafayette Parish. LUS also provides bulk sales to the water systems of most surrounding municipalities.

In 2009 LUS installed infrastructure for a fiber telecommunications network. Called LUSFiber, the network provides digital cable, telephone service, and high speed internet to all households in Lafayette.[27]

  • Natural gas

Natural gas service is supplied by Atmos Energy.

  • Telephone

Local land line telephone service is served by AT&T. Cox Communications and LUS Fiber provide Voice over Internet Protocol phone service.

  • Television

Cable television service in Lafayette is provided by Cox Communications. Lafayette Utilities System provides FTTH video services through LUSFiber. DirecTV and Dish Network both include Lafayette TV stations in their local packages.

Culture and contemporary life

Cultural organizations and institutions

Cultural organizations include the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra and Conservatory of Music, Chorale Acadienne, Lafayette Ballet Theatre and Dance Conservatory, The Lafayette Concert Band, and Performing Arts Society of Acadiana; as well as the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum and the Acadiana Center for the Arts.

The 2018 television film, The Christmas Contract, set in Lafayette, features many of the Cajun Christmas customs. In the story line, Jolie Guidry (Hilarie Burton) dreads returning to her home town when she learns that her former boyfriend, Foster Broussard (Hunter Burke) will be present at social gatherings with his new love interest. Jolie persuades Jack (Robert Buckley) to be her "contracted" escort in Lafayette. Then romance blossoms between Jolie and Jack. Bruce Boxleitner plays Jolie's father, Tim.[28]


Lafayette is home to the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, the athletic teams of The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. It is home to the Bayou Hurricanes, a semi-pro football team that plays at Clark Field. Between the years of 1995 and 2005, Lafayette was home to the Louisiana IceGators ECHL hockey team. In 2009, the IceGators returned as a member of the Southern Professional Hockey League until 2016. Also from 2009 to 2012, Lafayette was home to the Lafayette Wildcatters of the Southern Indoor Football League. It is also home to the Lafayette Bayou Bulls, a semi-pro football program started in 2003. Lafayette is also home to the Acadiana Cane Cutters, a summer league baseball team. The team plays its games at Fabacher Field and is a member of the Texas Collegiate League. The Lafayette SwampCats (1997–1999) and Lafayette Swamp Cats (2000–2004) soccer teams played in the city. The Cajun Soccer Club of the Gulf Coast Premier League was founded in 2013. The Acadiana Rollergirls of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association is a Roller Derby League in Lafayette.

The Lafayette area is home to multiple sports venues: Blackham Coliseum, Cajundome, Cajun Field, Earl K. Long Gymnasium, Evangeline Downs and Planet Ice Skating and Hockey Arena.




Lafayette is served by Cox Communications, and by Lafayette Utilities System's LUSFiber.[29]

Lafayette is home to:

Lafayette is also served by:


See List of Lafayette radio stations for full list Popular radio stations in Lafayette:

Record labels

See List of Lafayette record labels for full list

Places of interest

  • Acadiana Center for the Arts
  • Acadian Village is a reconstructed Cajun bayou community (of moved and reassembled authentic buildings) and has a representative collection of Cajun furnishings
  • Alexandre Mouton House Museum – a historic house museum, this was the home to Louisiana's first Democratic governor, Alexandre Mouton; contains a collection of antiques, historical documents, and old Mardi Gras costumes
  • Borden's Ice Cream – the last Borden's Ice Cream location in the United States
  • Caillouet House
  • Children's Museum of Acadiana
  • Cité des Arts
  • Downtown Lafayette
  • Girard Park
  • Judice Inn
  • Heymann Center – performing arts center
  • Acadian Cultural Center of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
  • Katog Choling Tibetan Cultural Center
  • Lafayette Natural History Museum & Planetarium
  • Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) – a 70,000-square-foot facility at the Research Park; owns the world's first six-sided, digital virtual reality cube as well as the world's largest digital 3-D auditorium
  • Mouton Plantation Bed and Breakfast - originally built by Governor Charles Mouton (1797-1848), son of Lafayette's founder, Jean Mouton (1754-1834).
  • Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum
  • Vermilionville Historic Village – One of the world's largest Cajun and Creole living history museums with seven restored historic structures from the 1765–1890 era
  • Zoosiana – located nearby in Broussard



  • Air: Lafayette Regional Airport (LFT) is located on US Highway 90, on the southeast side of the city with daily scheduled passenger airline services to Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, and Atlanta. Charter services depart Lafayette Regional as well as helicopter services and cargo jets.
  • Interstate Highway: I-10 and I-49 (Lafayette serves as I-49's southern terminus, at its intersection with I-10)
  • Passenger rail: The Amtrak Sunset Limited offers service three days a week from New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California with selected stops in Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Connections are available in New Orleans to Chicago and to the East Coast via Atlanta. Service eastward to Orlando, Florida remains suspended in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Intercity passenger bus: Greyhound operates a station downtown on Lee Avenue with destinations east and west on I-10, north on I-49 and southeast on US Hwy 90
  • Public transit: Lafayette Transit System (formerly City of Lafayette Transit (COLT)) provides bus service. Public transportation is provided only within Lafayette City Limits.
  • Bicycle facilities: Lafayette is dedicated to growing into a bicycle-friendly community, with a strong push from both the community and the government. The Lafayette MPO Bicycle Subcommittee meet once a month and has developed long-term goals for bicycling in the area. BikeLafayette is the areas's bicycle advocacy organization which is very active in promoting bicycle awareness, safety, and education in Acadiana. TRAIL is an organization that promotes bicycling, canoeing, and pedestrian activities. Right now Lafayette has a growing number of dedicated commuter and recreational bicycling facilities, including a bicycle lane on each side of Johnston Street from UL-Lafayette area at Lewis Street to near Ambassador Caffery, ending at Ridge Road. Henderson Levee has opened a 55-mile trail, and there is a mountain bike park in Acadiana Park. UL-Lafayette has installed an off-road paved bicycle path beginning at its Horticultural Center on Johnston Street extending up Cajundome Boulevard to Eraste Landry Road. A number of out of use bicycle/pedestrian sidewalk paths remain from the 1970s and 1980s but are unsigned. A recreational trail extending from Downtown Lafayette into the Cypress Island region of Saint Martin Parish is under development. This path will connect neighboring Breaux Bridge and Saint Martinville with Lafayette.
  • Main road arteries: U.S. Routes 90 (co-signed with Evangeline Thruway, Mudd Avenue and Cameron Street within the city limits) and U.S. Route 167 (co-signed with I-49, Evangeline Thruway and Johnston Street). Ambassador Caffery Parkway, named for Jefferson Caffery, serves as a partial loop connecting I-10 at Exit 100 on the west and US 90 on the south. Other arterial roads include Verot School Road (LA 339), West Congress Street, Kaliste Saloom Road (LA 3095), Ridge Road, Carmel Drive/Breaux Bridge Highway (LA 94), University Avenue (LA 182), Pinhook Road (LA 182), Camellia Boulevard, Guilbeau Road, Moss Street, Willow Street, Louisiana Avenue, Pont Des Mouton Road, Eraste Landry Road, and South College Road.

Notable people

Sister cities

Lafayette has seven sister cities:[30]

Six intersections in the downtown area are each named after one of its sister cities.

See also


  1. "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  2. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  3. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  4. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  5. "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on October 19, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  6. Martin, Michael (2007). Historic Lafayette: An Illustrated History of Lafayette & Lafayette Parish. San Antonio, Texas: Historical Publishing Network. pp. 5–7, 10, 11. ISBN 9781893619760.
  7. Written at Duff Green. Abstract of the Fifth Census of the United States (PDF). Washington DC: House of Representatives, United States of America. 1832.
  8. Niles' Weekly Register, BALTIMORE, June 26, 1824; LAFAYETTE
  9. Blackmon, Douglas. Slavery by Another Name.
  10. Dormon, James (September 1992). "Louisiana's "Creoles of Color": Ethnicity, Marginality, and Identity". Social Science Quarterly. 73 (3): 615–626.
  11. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  12. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  13. "Historical Weather for Lafayette, Louisiana, United States of America". 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
  14. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  15. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 25, 2009. Retrieved 2013-08-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. "{ Career Academies : LPSS : Lafayette Parish School System }". August 30, 2015. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  18. Gomez, Nancy (May 19, 2008). "La. Specialized Language Course Aims To Knock Down Barriers". Community College Week. 20 (19): 13.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. "Remington College in Lafayette – Lafayette Technical School". Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  22. "Intergovernmental Agreement". Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  23. ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-07. Retrieved 2013-07-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)." CODOFIL. Retrieved on July 8, 2013.
  24. "National Guard Units Alerted for Iraq Duty". Army Magazine. 54 (4): 64–66. April 2004.
  25. "Water and Light: A model plant nearly completed – Everything works without a hitch." Lafayette Gazette, 5 March 1898, page 1.
  26. LUS (1953) Comprehensive Engineering Report as of October 31, 1952. Prepared by R.W. Beck and Associates for the City of Lafayette Louisiana Utilities System.
  27. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. "The Christmas Contract (television film)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  29. "Home". LUS Fiber. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  30. "Lafayette's six sister cities". Archived from the original on January 6, 2010. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
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