Politics is deeply entwined in the culture of Baton Rouge; it can be found both in the storied past of local deal makers, showcased at the Old Louisiana State Capitol, and in the political history that is being written now inside the art deco skyscraper that serves as the current capitol. As home to the main campus of Louisiana State University and several smaller colleges, the city buzzes with the energy of youth while holding fast to its traditions in Southern lifestyle and historic sites. LSU’s home football games dominate the fall social calendar when fans perfect the art of tailgating and pack the immense Tiger Stadium. A revival is underway in the city center where attractions range from a riverfront casino to the USS Kidd floating museum to the ultra-contemporary Shaw Center for the Arts, which clusters an art museum, gallery spaces, theaters and restaurants in the heart of downtown.
Baton Rouge is a major industrial, petrochemical, medical, research, motion picture, and growing technology center of the American South. The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is the tenth largest in the United States in terms of tonnage shipped, and is the farthest upstream Mississippi River port capable of handling Panamax ships.
The Baton Rouge area owes its historical importance to its strategic site upon the Istrouma Bluff, the first natural bluff upriver from the Mississippi River Delta. This allowed development of a business quarter safe from seasonal flooding. In addition, the city built a levee system stretching from the bluff southward to protect the riverfront and low-lying agricultural areas. The city is a culturally rich center, with settlement by immigrants from numerous European nations and African peoples. It was ruled by seven different governments: French, British, and Spanish in the colonial era, West Floridian, United States territory and state, Confederate, and United States again.