The Sights and Sounds of Downtown Baton Rouge

A few weeks ago I was at the Old State Capitol with some friends from Tampa. In case you are unfamiliar with Baton Rouge’s downtown, their convention center or River-center is located next to the Town Square, City Hall, 19th Judicial Court House, Shaw Center for the Arts, and the Gothic revival Old State capitol (where we started our tour). Now I have been into this area of the city before, alas, not expecting much I did not bring my camera. However, after the first trip I realized that this area had a lot more then I expected and from then on out I vowed to bring my camera the next opportunity I had.

To put it in short “The opportunity was there” as my friend would say. So after our tour was complete I decided to walk around the area and took pictures. This post will mainly be filled with pictures so enjoy! Before the picture show commences I would like to say that this entire area is probably BR’s biggest selling points for their downtown, as you will see in the pictures it is truly in the cities heart and contains lush landscaping and beautiful works of art that entertain and inspire. So without further adieu welcome to the North Boulevard Town-square…

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The piece above is located in the squares water area. When I was there many kids were playing in the area.

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This is the squares (and I would argue the downtown’s) main feature. It’s called the crest and is a beautiful work of art. It also serves as a stage for the various events that occur downtown year round.

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These next few shots (and the one above) are my favorites, it really shows the cities skyline in a way that pictures from the river can’t and the cities urban/youthful feel.

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Well that about does it for the nice pictures I took during my travels. I hope to do more for different parts of the city (the bad and the ugly) along with other cities that I travel to. Thanks for reading and joining the revolution.

J’imagine Part 1

J’imagine une ville qui combine une belle architecture avec planification génie.

I imagine a city that combines beautiful architecture with genius planning.

June will make six months that I have lived in Baton Rouge, I guess that’s an advantage of moving somewhere at the end of the year. As someone who looks to improve things Baton Rouge and Louisiana provide a treasure trove of possibilities. The biggest thing I have learned is that infrastructure is not this state’s thing, they are simply stuck in the mindset that a six lane interstate will help move traffic along in one of the nations most commuted cities. In addition to this all infrastructure they have is falling apart and they are very late to fixing it. It’s really sad…I first tried to tackle this problem in my second post or the Baton Rouge loop, there I proposed an eight lane loop around the city that would link up with all major interstates going through the area. I honestly think that it would help ease a lot of the congestion, but what this city also needs is an eight or ten lane interstate.

As someone who enjoys beauty I normally find interstates ugly and unattractive, but they still play a vital role in our daily lives and if designed/constructed in a genius way they can be beautiful works of architecture. However, in some strange way my post today is not about this states infrastructure that is falling a part at the seams. Politicians do not need to be lectured by a teen on their infrastructural problems when there are 2o year olds doing it for a living. Instead today’s post is going to look into how major sporting events can transform cities for the better.

On a forum I’m apart of (UrbanPlanet) there is this kid, younger than me who is trying to bring the Olympics or a little more plausible Pan American Games to Baton Rouge. As someone who has only lived here for a small amount of time, hosting the Olympics or the smaller Pan American Games would be a huge leap of faith for the city and IOC/PASO. Despite the high improbability of this I wanted to look into what would happen or what the city of Baton Rouge could do if hell froze over and they won the Pan-American Games.

The first thing to understand about the Pan-American Games is that they are an event held ever odd four years. The only nation allowed to participate are those located in the Americas. Normally the event draws 42 nations and 6000 athletes, a much smaller number than both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games which typically attract 85-207 nations and 15,000 athletes. In the past cities like Winnipeg and Indianapolis have hosted the event with resounding success, given the games size it is somewhat possible to see a city like Baton Rouge host the event. The one thing going in Baton Rouges favor is that the event is much smaller than the Olympics, going against it is that the city has one of the worst infrastructures I have seen and lacks an international airport that could withstand the number of people that would show up. The only way for the city to host this event would be to do it with New Orleans, but FFS we are going to just give New Orleans some sports but Baton Rouge will have the most and will be the title city.

The first step Baton Rouge/Louisiana would have to take in order to secure the event is upgrade all existing infrastructure. This means upgrading the interstate to preferably ten lanes and for Baton Rouge, constructing an eight lane loop. The next step for Baton Rouge would be the creation of a light rail system, not one that goes all over the city as it’s just not big enough, instead a route that connects the Airport, Downtown, LSU, and the Mall of Louisiana. Looking at the city on Googlenet maps this route would be very simple and would have a good number of people on it. I’m predicting that the biggest group of people that would use the train is college students. Step number three would include expanding/improving the Baton Rouge airport, the big problem is that to expand the airport you need people and to have people you need affordable flights to many destinations…big shocker Baton Rouge fails in both of those categories. So how do you improve an airport? You make it easier to get to. The big plus is that the first two steps involve making transport to the airport much easier, so for step three the city should make the airport more than an airport. I would recommend creating a small convention center/hotel near the airport or on it’s grounds, updating the buildings design, and adding more amenities to those who travel with BTR.  After those investments just sit back and watch the people come, prices reduced, people come, and more destinations added, did I mention more people would come after that too?

Next comes the more tricky part, it’s easy to improve infrastructure and improve an airport but it is harder to attract more companies and people to the city.  The best way to do this is by making your city more attractive, in simpler terms: improve everything that sucks and provides a reason for people to not want to live in your city. For Baton Rouge it’s a lot, from a city council that does not do crap, a bad (though it’s getting much better) crime rate, and the worst education I have ever seen. Those are typically the biggest attraction elements people look into when deciding to move companies or families to a city. The city has certainly tackled crime and now it’s going down, education on the other hand is causing big problems for the people of this city. It has divided the city and is putting many of the children who receive public education a major disadvantage in life. As a meek observer my best advice would be to make a system that allows for local people to control their own education, so a St. George school branch, North Baton Rouge branch, and Garden District  Branch. Each of these branches would control their schools education locally, giving people of the community a stronger voice in their children’s education. This would also allow for growth in certain areas and create more competition to have a better system then the other branch. At this point this is the only way I can see education improved in the city. The whole city council thing is fixed when people vote…so people of Baton Rouge when you don’t like your city council vote their assses out.

With those key problems solved were going to finish this post up in part two. Part two will focus on the actual event and it’s organization. It should be up in a day or two, thanks for reading this blog and joining the revolution, I really appreciate it.