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Plaquemines Parish

Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana
Template:Infobox U.S. county/map
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
Founded 1807
Named for Louisiana French word for persimmons
Seat Pointe à la Hache
Largest city Belle Chasse
 • Total 2,429 sq mi (6,290 km2)
 • Land 845 sq mi (2,187 km2)
 • Water 1,584 sq mi (4,102 km2), 65.22%
 • (2010) 23,042
 • Density 32/sq mi (12/km²)
Congressional district Template:Infobox U.S. county/district, Template:Infobox U.S. county/district, Template:Infobox U.S. county/district
Time zone Template:Infobox U.S. county/timezone
Template:Infobox U.S. county/timezone

Plaquemines Parish (/ˈplɑːkɨmɪnz/; Louisiana French: Paroisse des Plaquemines) is the parish with the most combined land and water area in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is Pointe à la Hache. As of the 2010 census, the population was 23,042, a decrease from the 2000 census result.[1]

Plaquemines Parish is part of the New OrleansMetairieKenner Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the New Orleans–Metairie–Bogalusa Combined Statistical Area.

Billy Nungesser is the Parish President.


The name "Plaquemines" was derived from French Creole and the Atakapa word, piakimin, meaning persimmon. The French used it to name a military post they built on the banks of the Mississippi, a site surrounded by numerous persimmon trees. Eventually the name was applied to the entire parish and to a nearby bayou.

The oldest European settlement in the parish was La Balize, where the French built and inhabited a crude fort by 1699 near the mouth of the Mississippi River. The name in French meant "seamark", a tall structure of wood built as a guide for ships. The French built one 62 feet (19 m) high by 1721.[2] A surviving map from about 1720 shows the island and fort, and the mouth of the river.[3]

As traffic and trade on the river increased, so did the importance of river pilots who were knowledgeable about the complicated, ever-changing currents and sandbars in the river. They lived at La Balize with their families. The village was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, but it was abandoned for good after the destruction of a September 1860 hurricane. The pilots moved upriver and built the settlement they named Pilottown, which reached its peak of population in the 19th century.[4] The river pilots' expertise continues to be critical, but now they generally live with their families in more populated areas, and stay at Pilottown temporarily for work.

An important historical site is Fort Jackson, built in 1822 as recommended by General Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. In 1861, Fort Jackson served as an important Confederate defense for the city of New Orleans during the Civil War because it was at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The US Army used it as a training base during World War I, 1917-1918.

It is one of only two parishes that have kept its same boundaries from the beginning of Louisiana's parishes in 1807 to today, the other being St. Bernard Parish.

Because Plaquemines Parish encompasses the last 70 miles (110 km) of the Mississippi River, it is the site of several oil refineries, which rely on the shipping lanes for moving their product. The Mississippi River Delta of Plaquemines is also a base for assistance to offshore oil rigs. Plaquemines Parish was the first place in the United States where shippers used a container for cargo in foreign trade. The area is also known as containing the lowest point in Louisiana, weighing in at just under 29 degrees north. To be further south in the United States, a person would have to be in Texas, Florida, or Hawaii.

The August 1901 Hurricane caused damage, including 4 feet of water in Buras.[5]

In the early 1900s, Plaquemines was an exporter of citrus. Farmers used the railroads and the Mississippi to ship the large annual harvest to markets. Commercial fisheries, especially for oysters, have been important in the parish economy.

The Great Hurricane of 1915 devastated much of the Parish, with multiple levee breaches on both sides of the Mississippi, a 12-foot storm surge, and hundreds of deaths. Homelessness was widespread, and many people were reduced to starvation until charitable aid arrived.[6] The old Parish Courthouse in Pointe à la Hache was among the many buildings destroyed in the storm, but a new one was completed within the year.

From 1919 to 1969, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes were effectively the domain of the political boss Leander Perez, who established a virtual dictatorship in the area.[7] He was notorious for fixing elections and enforcing strict racial segregation. Upon his death, his sons Leander Perez Jr. and Chalin Perez were elected as the dominant political figures of the parish as district attorney and parish president, respectively. Interpersonal feuding weakened the family's hold on power, and by 1980, political opponents had begun to win local elections.[7]

During the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, city and state leaders used dynamite to breach a levee at Caernarvon, thirteen miles (19 km) below Canal Street, in order to save the city of New Orleans from flooding. This action resulted in the flooding of much of the less-populated St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, causing widespread destruction to agriculture and housing.

In 1965 Hurricane Betsy damaged the area, flooding many buildings, including the Parish Courthouse, and causing nine deaths. Leander Perez sealed off the Parish from the outside world, while trying to control state assistance.[8]

Historic sites

The parish includes three U.S. National Historic Landmarks:

The parish has five other sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including Woodland Plantation, which has been depicted on the label of Southern Comfort whiskey since the 1930s. Woodland Plantation is an antebellum mansion located in West Pointe à la Hache, on the West Bank of Plaquemines. It is now operated as a bed and breakfast.

Hurricane Katrina

One of the worst disasters in United States history struck Louisiana on August 29, 2005. Hurricane Katrina did severe damage to all of Southeast Louisiana. Martial law was not declared in Plaquemines, contrary to many media reports, as no such term exists in Louisiana state law [9]. No place escaped without some damage, while most of Plaquemines, Orleans and the neighbouring St. Bernard parishes were severely hit. The towns of Pointe à la Hache, Port Sulphur, Buras-Triumph, Empire, Boothville-Venice, Phoenix, and Venice, Louisiana suffered catastrophic damage. Amidst heavy rains accompanied by hurricane-force winds in excess of 120 mph (190 km/h) at initial landfall (with a Category 5 storm surge), the levees failed and broke. The storm surge that flowed in was more than 20 feet (6.1 m) high. Although a majority of the populace evacuated under mandatory orders, some did not. At least three residents died.


The parish has a total area of 2,429 square miles (6,290 km²), of which, 845 square miles (2,187 km²) of it is land and 1,584 square miles (4,102 km²) of it (65.22%) is water.

Major highways

  • Louisiana Highway 23 - West Bank
  • Louisiana Highway 39 - East Bank

Adjacent parishes and features

Plaquemines Parish is bordered to the south and southeast by the Gulf of Mexico.

National protected areas


Plaquemines has a significant seafood industry. The parish exports millions of pounds of shrimp, crab, oysters, and fish annually. Plaquemines also has a vibrant citrus industry.

As of 2012, Plaquemines parish is the largest crude oil producing parish in Louisiana. It produced over 14 million barrels in 2012.[10]

The seafood and citrus industries have suffered somewhat in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. About half the shrimping and shellfish fleet were lost. In January 2007, thousands of citrus trees went unpicked.

Plaquemines Port is one of the largest ports in the United States, handling mostly domestic traffic. The Plaquemines Port, Harbor & Terminal District is coextensive with the parish, and was created in 1954 by the legislature of Louisiana as a state agency. It is governed by a committee of the Plaquemines Parish Council, acting as the Port Board.[11]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201223,9213.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
2012 Estimate[13]

As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 26,757 people, 9,021 households, and 7,000 families residing in the parish. The population density was 32 people per square mile (12/km²). There were 10,481 housing units at an average density of 12 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 69.77% White, 23.39% Black or African American, 2.07% Native American, 2.62% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.73% from other races, and 1.42% from two or more races. 1.62% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 2.22% reported speaking French or Creole French at home.

There were 9,021 households out of which 39.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.50% were married couples living together, 14.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.40% were non-families. 18.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the parish the population was spread out with 29.20% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 30.50% from 25 to 44, 21.40% from 45 to 64, and 9.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 99.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.30 males.

The median income for a household in the parish was $38,173, and the median income for a family was $42,610. Males had a median income of $37,245 versus $21,691 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $15,937. About 15.40% of families and 18.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.70% of those under age 18 and 18.40% of those age 65 or over.


There are no incorporated areas within Plaquemines Parish.


Plaquemines Parish School Board operates the public schools of the parish.

Notable people

See also



External links

  • Official website
  • Images of destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in the parish (Photos taken August 31, 2005)

Coordinates: 29°23′N 89°29′W / 29.39°N 89.48°W / 29.39; -89.48

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