Category Archives: Louisiana

Baton Rouge

With my business in New Orleans complete, I set my sights on the next welcome sign.  Baton Rouge, an easy 80-mile drive to the northwest, was a natural stopping point in my new quest to photograph welcome signs for U.S. state capitals.

Baton Rouge comes from the French and literally means “red stick”.  Records from French explorer Sieur d’Iberville describe large wooden cypress poles topped with heads of sacrificed (bloody) animals and fish that served as the boundaries for native lands when he arrived in the area in 1699.  Generally the red stick settlements referred to areas inhabited by natives that were hostile to the explorers; white stick (baton blanc) settlements were peaceful.

The red stick landmarks no longer exist, and today’s welcome to Baton Rogue is much more subdued.  The sign (below) is situated at the intersection of Sally Ride Drive and Veterans Memorial Boulevard at the exit to Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. 

On the far left is the Louisiana state capitol building, distinctive because it is the tallest in the U.S.  On the far right is the Horace Wilkinson Bridge that carries Interstate 10 across the Mississippi River and connects Baton Rouge with Port Allen, La.  The area in between includes other structures that make up the skyline of Baton Rouge.

The one thing that seems out of place on the sign is the widebody aircraft.  The commercial passenger airlines serving Baton Route Metropolitan Airport today do not operate four-engine planes, but I guess it’s always good to prepared for future upgrades in service… then the sign won’t have to be changed!

After locating the sign, I took a quick trip to downtown Baton Rouge to photograph the unique capitol building.  Along the way I thought I might catch a glimpse of another welcome sign – I’ve learned from experience that airport signs may not be the only welcome to a city.  But the main road leading from the airport to downtown – ironically named Scenic Highway – only offered views of manufacturing activities by Lion Copolymer (synthetic rubber) and Exxon Mobil (petrochemicals and refinery).  Scenic was the last word that I would use to describe the drive to downtown Baton Rouge, and I did not find another welcome sign.

Constructed in the early 1930s, its 34 stories make the Louisiana capitol the tallest building in Baton Rouge.  It is an impressive structure, and I was glad that I had taken the time to visit.

 

The exterior of the building included numerous details, but the one I liked the best was the carving of a pelican, Louisiana’s state bird and one of the state’s most well-known symbols.

I probably only spent one hour in Baton Rouge, just enough time to take my photos.  This was certainly not enough time to explore one of the fastest growing metro areas in the U.S., but my next welcome sign was just hours away, and I had to get on the road to continue my photographic journey…  My trip report will continue throughout this week.

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New Orleans

The Big Easy.  Crescent City.   The City that Care Forgot.

With all of these great nicknames, I expected New Orleans to have a distinctive welcome sign.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

My visit to NOLA this week was to attend a conference, but I built in some extra time to search the city for the welcome sign.  This was actually my second attempt to find the Nawlins welcome sign; I came up empty three years ago on another work-related visit.

The only sign I was able to find was this one in the airport.  It greets visitors as they descend into the baggage claim area.  The (boring) visual of the city’s skyline also features a space for (tacky) electronic advertising.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I normally do not photograph welcome signs in airports.  But I snapped this shot upon departure after I came up short in my efforts while scouring the city’s borders.

But all was not lost.  Approaching Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on Veterans Boulevard on my way to catch my flight home, not only was I treated to aircraft takeoffs on Runway 1/19, but I found a farewell sign!  This sign almost makes up for the lack of a welcome sign.  It incorporates icons of New Orleans: a fleur-de-lis, a trumpet, and the Mississippi River.  The globe seems out of place, but otherwise it’s an impressive sign.

There was no place to stop along the roadway to snap this shot – did I mention it is adjacent to an active runway? – so I actually took this while driving, with the camera perched precariously on the steering wheel.  After nearly five years of photographing welcome signs, this is the first one that I was forced to take while driving.  (And this shot was my second go-around!)

 

Although it is also nicknamed America’s Most Interesting City, New Orleans turned out to be the least interesting of my visit to the River Region (in terms of welcome signs, that is).  My trip report featuring welcome signs from two state capitals will continue in the coming days.  And an unexpected surprise was waiting for me in Mississippi.

Are you ready for some football (welcome sign style)?

Welcome to the 2010 NFL season!  I am a lifelong fan of the sport and you better believe that this date has been on my calendar since the official schedule was released in the spring.

The first game is a rematch of the thrilling  2009 NFC championship shoot-out between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints.  I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the season than to highlight the welcome signs for Minnesota and Louisiana (alas, I have not yet captured the welcome sign for the Big Easy, but it’s on my schedule next month).

The Welcome to Louisiana sign displays the same fleur-de-lis that is featured on the helmets and jerseys of all 53 members of the New Orleans Saints.  Most often associated with the French monarchy, this lily flower became the official symbol of the State of Louisiana in 2008.

The history of Louisiana is tightly linked to France; France claimed the region in the late 17th century and the state takes its name from King Louis XIV.  In fact, Louisiana is one of only three states to welcome visitors in both English and French.  Can you guess the other two states?

Minnesota’s sign ranks as one of five most favorite state welcome signs.  One of only a few signs I have photographed made of stone, the flowing vertical lines represent the Mississippi River which originates in Minnesota and ends in New Orleans (quel coincidence!).  The pink cursive script provides a splash of color that reflects Minnesota’s state flower, the pink and white lady’s slipper.

The game clock just wound down to zero, and the Saints were victorious over the Vikings.  But the Minnesota sign remains the winner for me.