Approaching Shreveport, Lousiana from the Southwest
Shreveport is the third-largest city and the principal city of the third largest metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Louisiana, as well as being the 99th-largest city in the United States. It is the seat of Caddo Parish and extends slightly into neighboring Bossier Parish. Bossier City is separated from Shreveport by the Red River. The population was 200,145 at the 2000 census, and the Shreveport-Bossier City Metropolitan Area population exceeds 375,000.
Shreveport was founded in 1836 by the Shreve Town Company, a corporation established to develop a town at the juncture of the newly navigable Red River and the Texas Trail, an overland route into the newly independent Republic of Texas and, prior to that time, into Mexico.
Shreveport is the commercial and cultural center of the Ark-La-Tex, the area where Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas meet. Many people in the community refer to the two cities of Shreveport and Bossier City as "Shreveport-Bossier".
The Shreve Town Company was established to launch a town at the meeting point of the Red River and the Texas Trail. The Red River was cleared and made newly navigable by Captain Henry Miller Shreve, who commanded the United States Army Corps of Engineers. A 180-mile (289 km) long natural logjam, the Great Raft, had previously obstructed passage to shipping. Shreve used a specially modified riverboat, the Heliopolis, to remove the logjam. The company and the village of Shreve Town were named in Shreve's honor.
Shreve Town was originally contained within the boundaries of a section of land sold to the company by the indigenous Caddo Indians in the year of 1835. In 1838, Caddo Parish was created from the large Natchitoches Parish (pronounced "NACK-a-tish") and Shreve Town became the parish seat. Shreveport remains the parish seat of Caddo Parish today. On March 20, 1839, the town was incorporated as "Shreveport." Originally, the town consisted of sixty-four city blocks, created by eight streets running west from the Red River and eight streets running south from Cross Bayou, one of its tributaries.
Shreveport soon became a center of steamboat commerce, mostly cotton and agricultural crops. Shreveport also had a slave market, though slave trading was not as widespread as in other parts of the state. Both slaves and freedmen worked on the river steamboats which plied the Red River, and as stevedores loading and unloading cargo. By 1860, Shreveport had a free population of 2,200 and 1,300 slaves within the city limits.
During the American Civil War, Shreveport was capital of Louisiana (1863-1865). The city was a Confederate stronghold and was the site of the headquarters of the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederate Army. Isolated from events in the east, the Civil War continued in the Trans-Mississippi theater for several weeks after Robert E. Lee's surrender in April 1865, and the Trans-Mississippi was the last Confederate Command to surrender (May 26, 1865). Confederate President Jefferson Davis attempted to flee to Shreveport when he left Richmond but was captured in Georgia en route.
The Red River, opened by Shreve in the 1830s, remained navigable until 1914 when disuse, owing to the rise of the railroad, again resulted in the river becoming unnavigable. In 1994, navigability was restored by the Army Corps of Engineers with the completion of a series of lock-and-dam structures and a navigation channel. Today, Shreveport-Bossier City is again being developed as a port and shipping center.
By the 1910s, Huddie William Ledbetter - also known as "Leadbelly" (1889-1949), a blues singer and guitarist who eventually achieved worldwide fame - was performing for Shreveport audiences in St. Paul's Bottoms, the notorious red light district of Shreveport which operated legally from 1903 to 1917. Ledbetter began to develop his own style of music after exposure to a variety of musical influences on Shreveport's Fannin Street, a row of saloons, brothels, and dance halls in the Bottoms.
Shreveport was also home to the "Louisiana Hayride" radio program, broadcast weekly from the Municipal Auditorium. During its heyday from 1948 to 1960, this program spawned the careers of some of the greatest names in American music. The Hayride featured names such as Hank Williams, Sr. and Elvis Presley (who got his start at this venue).
In 1963, headlines across the country reported that Sam Cooke was arrested after his band tried to register at a “whites only” Holiday Inn in Shreveport. In the months following, Cooke recorded the civil rights era song, A Change Is Gonna Come.
The coming of riverboat gambling to Shreveport in the mid-1990s spurred a revitalization of the downtown and riverfront areas. Many downtown streets were given a facelift through the "Streetscape" project, where brick sidewalks and crosswalks were built and statues, sculptures, and mosaics were added. The Texas Street Bridge was lit with neon lights, that were met with a variety of opinions among residents.
Shreveport was named an All-American City in 1953, 1979, and 1999.
Shreveport's landscape sits on a low elevation overlooking the Red River. Pine forests, cotton fields, wetlands, and waterways mark the outskirts of the city.
Shreveport has a humid subtropical climate (Koppen climate classification Cfa). Rainfall is abundant with the normal annual rain just over 51 inches (1.3 m), with monthly averages ranging less than 3 inches (76 mm) in August to more than 5 inches (130 mm) in May and June. Severe thunderstorms with heavy rain, hail damaging winds and tornadoes occur in the area during the spring. The winter months are normally mild with an average of 39 days of freezing or below-freezing temperatures per year, though ice and sleet storms do occur. Summer months are very warm and humid, with maximum temperatures exceeding 95 degrees about 32 days per year, with high to very high relative average humidity sometimes exceeding the 90 percent level.
Founded in 1836 and incorporated in 1839, Shreveport is the parish seat of Caddo Parish. It is part of the First Judicial District, housing the Parish courthouse. It also houses the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal, which consists of nine elected judges representing twenty parishes in northwest Louisiana. A portion of east Shreveport extends into Bossier Parish due to the changing course of the Red River.
The city of Shreveport has a mayor-council government. The elected municipal officials include the mayor, Cedric Glover, and seven members of the city council. Glover, a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, is the first African American to hold the position. Shreveport became a majority black city in the 2000 census.
Under the mayor-council government, the mayor serves as the executive officer of the city. As the city's chief administrator and official representative, the mayor is responsible for the general management of the city and for seeing that all laws and ordinances are enforced.
Shreveport was once a major player in United States oil business and at one time could boast Standard Oil of Louisiana as a locally based company. The Louisiana branch was later absorbed by Standard Oil of New Jersey. In the 1980s, the oil and gas industry suffered a large economic downturn, and many companies cut back jobs or went out of business, including a large retail shopping mall, South Park Mall, which closed in the late 1990s and is now Summer Grove Baptist Church. Shreveport suffered severely from this recession, and many residents left the area.
Today the city has largely transitioned to a service economy. In particular, the area has seen a rapid growth in the gaming industry, hosting various riverboat gambling casinos, and was second only to New Orleans in Louisiana tourism before Hurricane Katrina. Nearby Bossier City is home to one of the three horse racetracks in the state, Harrah's Louisiana Downs. Casinos in Shreveport-Bossier include Sam's Town Casino, Eldorado Casino, Horseshoe Casino, Boomtown Casino, and Diamond Jacks Casino (formerly Isle of Capri). The Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau is the official tourism information agency for the region. The bureau maintains a comprehensive database of restaurants, accommodations, attractions and events.
In May 2005, the Louisiana Boardwalk, a 550,000 square foot (51,000 m²) shopping and entertainment complex, opened across the Red River in Bossier City, featuring outlet shopping, several restaurants, a 14-screen movie theater, a bowling complex, and a Bass Pro Shops.
A new 350,000-square-foot (33,000 m2) convention center was recently completed in downtown Shreveport. It includes an 800-space parking garage. An adjoining 12-story Hilton Hotel opened in early June 2007. The city's direct construction and ownership of the Hilton Hotel has been a controversial issue as to the proper use of public funds. The site is managed by Hilton Hotels. The Shreveport Convention Center is managed by SMG.
Shreveport is also a major medical center of the region and state. The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport operates at expanded facilities once used by the former Confederate Memorial Medical Center. Major hospitals include Christus Schumpert, Willis Knighton, and Shriners Hospital for Children.
As of November 2008, the recent excitement about the Haynesville Shale has been a boon to Shreveport and the surrounding areas. Many new jobs in the natural gas industry are expected to be created over the next few years and local residents are enjoying large bonuses for signing mineral rights leases up to $25,000 per acre. However, the recent economic turndown has resulted in a lower market price for natural gas and slower-than-expected drilling activity. The city itself stands to profit by leasing the mineral rights on public lands in the near future as neighboring municipalities have already done.
Tax incentives offered by the state government have given Louisiana the third largest film industry in the country, behind California and New York, and lead to its nickname of "Hollywood South." Shreveport is no exception and has seen a number of films made in the city. Facilities include sound stages, the State Fair of Louisiana Fairgrounds Complex, and the Louisiana Wave Studio, a computer-controlled outdoor wave pool.
Selected movies shot in Shreveport include:
* The Guardian (2006): Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner
* Not Like Everyone Else (2006) (TV Movie)
* Factory Girl (2006): Sienna Miller and Guy Pierce
* Mr. Brooks (2007): Kevin Costner, William Hurt, and Demi Moore
* Blonde Ambition (2007): Jessica Simpson
* Cleaner (2007): Samuel L. Jackson
* The Mist (2007): Thomas Jane, Toby Jones, and Marcia Gay Harden
* The Last Lullaby (2007): Tom Sizemore
* Wonderful World (2007): Matthew Broderick
* Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (2008): Michael Clarke Duncan and Martin Lawrence
* The Longshots (2008): Ice Cube, Keke Palmer, and Fred Durst
* Disaster Movie (2008): Vanessa Minillo, Matt Lanter, and Kim Kardashian
* The Year One (2008): Jack Black and Michael Cera
* W. (2008): Josh Brolin, Richard Dreyfuss, and James Cromwell
* Deadly Exchange (2009): John McTiernan
* I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (2009): Matt Czuchry, Jesse Bradford, and Geoff Stults
Shreveport and Bossier City share an af2 arena football team, the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings, as well as a Central Hockey League team, the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.
Baseball in Shreveport has an extensive past. The current team is a Minor League Baseball team known as the Shreveport-Bossier Captains. Baseball teams in Shreveport have gone through 8 different name changes and 7 different leagues all since 1895.
Shreveport's rugby team, the Shreveport Rugby Football Club, was founded in 1977 and participates in the Texas Rugby Football Union.
Shreveport is the home of the Shreveport Aftershock of the Independent Women's Football League. The Aftershock play in the Midsouth Division of the Eastern Conference of the IWFL. The home field for the Aftershock is Independence Stadium.
Shreveport had an expansion team of the defunct World Football League, the Shreveport Steamer, in 1974. They played in State Fair Stadium (now known as Independence Stadium) from September 1974 until October 1975. The Steamer were originally the Houston Texans and moved to Shreveport in September 1974. In 1974 they had a record of 7-12-1 and in 1975 5-7. Shreveport also had a Canadian Football League football team in the mid-1990s known as the Shreveport Pirates. Bernard Glieberman, a Detroit real estate developer, owned the Ottawa Rough Riders and in 1994, sold the team and then purchased the expansion franchise that ultimately wound up in Shreveport. He was allowed to take a handful of Ottawa players with him, including quarterback Terrence Jones. However, the Pirates were another American CFL team that ultimately became unsuccessful. Their first victory did not come until the 15th week of their initial season, and in 1995, all their victories were against Canadian teams. By 1996 the team had folded up.
Shreveport is the birthplace of several football stars. Terry Bradshaw, a former quarterback for Louisiana Tech University and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Joe Ferguson, former quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, Jacob Hester, a running back for the 2007 NCAA National Champions LSU; Josh Booty, a former shortstop for the Florida Marlins and former quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders and his younger brother John David Booty, quarterback for USC. Tommy Spinks was a Bradshaw teammate early in their career at Louisiana Tech.
Shreveport was also mentioned as a potential city to house the NFL's New Orleans Saints in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. It was passed over in favor of the much larger San Antonio and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. The Saints did play a game in Shreveport against the Dallas Cowboys during the 2006 NFL preseason.
Shreveport has hosted the NCAA postseason Independence Bowl since 1976. 
Barksdale Air Force Base is located in Bossier Parish across the river from Shreveport, which donated the land for its construction in the 1920s. Named for pioneer army aviator Lt. Eugene Hoy Barksdale and originally called Barksdale Army Air Field, it opened in 1933 and became Barksdale Air Force Base in 1947. Headquartered here are the 8th Air Force, 2d Bomb Wing, and 917th Wing. The primary plane housed here is the Boeing B52 Stratofortress. In earlier years, the base was the home to other famous planes, including the B-47.
Shreveport is home to the 2-108th Cavalry Squadron, the reconnaissances element of the 256th Infantry Brigade. Three of the squadron's four cavalry troops are located at 400 East Stoner Avenue in a historic armory known as "Fort Humbug".