Lafayette is a city on the Vermilion River in Lafayette Parish, in the U.S. state of Louisiana. Lafayette is the parish seat. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 110,257; a 2004 census estimate put the metro area's population at 246,160. It is the fourth largest city in the state. Lafayette is included in the Lafayette-Acadiana LA Combined Statistical Area, which, in 2004, had a total population of 522,838.
The city was founded as Vermilionville in 1821 by a French-speaking Acadian named Jean Mouton. In 1884, it was renamed for the Marquis de Lafayette, who assisted the United States during its Revolutionary War. The city's economy was primarily based on agriculture until the 1940s, when the petroleum and natural gas industry became dominant. The city is also home to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Lafayette has a strong tourism industry, attracted by the Cajun and Creole cultures of the surrounding region and hosts the annual Festival de Musique Acadienne, Festivals Acadiens, and the annual Festival International de Louisiane. It also has one of the highest restaurant counts per capita of cities in the area.
Lafayette is located at 30°12′50″N, 92°1′46″W (30.213901, -92.029363)GR1 in the south-central area of Louisiana at the junction of Interstate Highways 10 and 49.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 123.5 km² (47.7 mi²). 123.3 km² (47.6 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (0.19%) is water.
The Vermilion River runs through the center of Lafayette. 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.
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 110,257 people, 43,506 households, and 27,104 families residing in the city. The population density was 894.5/km² (2,316.7/mi²). There were 46,865 housing units at an average density of 380.2/km² (984.7/mi²). 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 1.88% of the population.
Lafayette is the only major city in Louisiana to be growing in population instead of shrinking (even before the hurricane-caused migration from New Orleans and surrounding areas). However, accoriding to a 2005 estimate, Lake Charles, Louisiana has resumed growing once again after a slight loss of .03 % between 1990 and 2000.
Lafayette is approximately 90% Roman Catholic and thus, has a large number of Catholic schools.
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. 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. In the 1970s, Lafayette had the distinction of having more millionaires per capita than any other city in the United States, thanks mostly to the oil industry.
Lafayette is the home of the headquarters of the 256th Infantry Brigade, a military unit of over 3,000 Soldiers that served in Iraq in the years of 2004-5.
Lafayette is also served by U.S. Routes 90 (known as the Evangeline Thruway for part of its route) and 167 (also known as Johnston Street).
Some of the notable people born in Lafayette:
Other notable residents of Lafayette:
Lafayette is home to the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. It is also home to the Lafayette Bayou Bulls semi-pro football program which started in 2003.
Government and Politics
Lafayette currently has a Republican city-parish president, Joey Durel. As the largest city in the seventh congressional district of Louisiana, it overwhelmingly supported U.S. representative Charles Boustany in his races in 2004 and 2006; he is a citizen of Lafayette. In 2004, Lafayette casted 57,000 ballots for George W. Bush and 31,000 for John F. Kerry. According to the Bay City Center for Voting Research, Lafayette is the ninth most conservative city in the nation.