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Postcards and Photos Illustrate Local Life in the Early 20th Century

1910 New Orleans, with 339,000 residents, was Louisiana’s premier city, the 15th-largest in the nation
and the metropolis of the South. Its importance transcended Louisiana –– and the United States –– as the state’s
other cities were regional markets serving mostly rural populations.

Shreveport, with more than 28,000 residents, was beginning to reach beyond its region as it boomed from recent oil discoveries. Next was Baton Rouge, home to nearly 15,000. Its importance was enhanced by being the state capital and home to Louisiana State University and its proximity to New Orleans. The next three were primarily regional markets.

Monroe had nearly 13,000 residents, and Lake Charles and Alexandria each had more than 11,000, but these populations were bolstered by wide trade areas drawn together by rivers and railroads.

All of Louisiana’s centers prospered and grew as automobile usage increased after 1910. The state’s largest cities in 1910 remain among the largest today, though there have been some dramatic shifts.

In 1910 New Orleans was Louisiana’s only urban spot. Today all of Louisiana’s larger cities can be classed as urban, and former farmland such as St. Tammany Parish near New Orleans has an increasingly urban future, as well.
 

photographs and illustrations courtesy of historic new orleans collection | Louisiana History Museum | Louisiana State Museum

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