Lake Charles, Louisiana: Wikis


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City of Lake Charles (Lake Charles)
Downtown from the northwest side of Lake Charles
Motto: Cherishing the Past, Embracing the Future
Nickname: The Lake Area
Country United States
State Louisiana
Parish Calcasieu
Elevation 13 ft (4 m)
Coordinates 30°12′53″N 93°12′31″W / 30.21472°N 93.20861°W / 30.21472; -93.20861
Area 42.5 sq mi (110.1 km2)
 - land 40.2 sq mi (104 km2)
 - water 2.4 sq mi (6 km2), 5.65%
 - metro 3,026 sq mi (7,837 km2)
Population 71,757 (2000)
 - metro 193,568 (2000)
Density 1,786.6 /sq mi (689.8 /km2)
Founded 1852
 - Incorporated March 7, 1861
 - Re-Incorporated March 16, 1867
Mayor Randy Roach
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 70601, 70602, 70605, 70606, 70607, 70609, 70611, 70612, 70615, 70616, 70629
Area code 337
Location of Lake Charles in Louisiana
Location of Louisiana in the United States

Lake Charles is the fifth largest incorporated city in the US state of Louisiana, located on Lake Charles, Prien Lake, and the Calcasieu River. [1] [2] It is the parish seat of Calcasieu Parish, a major cultural and educational center in the southwest region of the state, and one of the most important in Acadiana. As of the 2000 census, the population was 71,757. Lake Charles is the principal city of the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area, having a population of 193,568. It is also the principal city of the larger Lake Charles-Jennings Combined Statistical Area, with a population of 225,003.

This growing city is considered a major center of petrochemical refining, gaming, and education being home to McNeese State University and Sowela Technical Community College. With over 75 festivals held annually, Lake Charles is referred to as the Festival Capital of Louisiana [3].



Geography and Climate

The city is located on the banks of the Calcasieu River in southwestern Louisiana, and borders both Lake Charles and Prien Lake. Contraband Bayou and English Bayou run through the city.

Lake Charles is located at 30°12′53″N 93°12′31″W / 30.21472°N 93.20861°W / 30.21472; -93.20861 (30.214656, -93.208537)[4] and has an elevation of 13 feet (4.0 m)[5].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 42.5 square miles (110.2 km²), of which, 40.2 square miles (104.0 km²) of it is land and 2.4 square miles (6.1 km²) of it (5.57%) is water.

The city is located on a plain about 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 87 87 94 95 100 106 103 107 105 103 93 89
Norm High °F 60.6 64.5 71.3 77.4 84.1 88.9 91.0 91.3 87.7 80.5 70.6 63.3
Norm Low °F 41.2 44.3 50.8 57.2 65.7 72.1 74.3 73.6 69.1 58.6 49.7 43.3
Rec Low °F 12 3 21 30 40 51 60 59 45 30 20 11
Precip (in) 5.52 3.28 3.54 3.64 6.06 6.07 5.13 4.85 5.95 3.94 4.61 4.60
Source: National Weather Service Lake Charles Office [1]
Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °C 30.5 30.5 34.4 35 37.7 41 39.4 41.6 40.5 39.4 33.8 31.6
Norm High °C 15.8 18 21.8 25.2 28.9 31.6 32.7 32.9 30.9 26.9 21.4 17.4
Norm Low °C 5.1 6.8 10.4 14 18.7 22.3 23.5 23.1 20.6 14.7 9.8 6.3
Rec Low °C -11.1 -16.1 -6.1 -1.1 4.4 10.5 15.5 15 7.2 -1.1 -6.6 -11.6
Precip (cm) 14 8.3 9 9.2 15.4 15.4 13 12.3 15.1 10 11.7 11.7
Capital One Tower in downtown Lake Charles after Hurricane Rita


As of the census [6] of 2000, there were 71,757 people,[2] 27,974 households, and 18,015 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,786.6 people per square mile (689.7/km²). There were 31,429 housing units[2] at an average density of 302.1/km² (782.5/sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was:

There were 27,974 households, out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.6% were married couples living together, 18.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.06.

The population was spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,774, and the median income for a family was $37,774. Males had a median income of $33,005 versus $21,041 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,922. About 16.3% of families and 19.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.6% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.


Lake Charles' public schools are operated by the Calcasieu Parish Public School System There are a number of private schools located in the city as well.

Universities and Colleges

Lake Charles is home to McNeese State University [2], a four-year public university in the University of Louisiana System. McNeese is located on a 121-acre main campus lined with live oak trees in the heart of Lake Charles. The beautiful Contraband Bayou flows through the campus. McNeese offers over 80 majors, and includes the colleges of Business, Education, Engineering and Engineering Technology, Liberal Arts, Nursing, Science, Honors College, and the Doré School of Graduate Studies. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools[7]. Other properties include a 65-acre athletic plant and student apartment complex, the Louisiana Environmental Research Center, Burton Coliseum, the 503-acre MSU Farm, and nearly 1,600 acres of donated farm property used for research, farming, and ranching[8]. Over 8,500 students attend the university[9].

Also located within the city is Sowela Technical Community College [3], which offers associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificate programs, as well as general education courses that can transfer to four-year universities. It is accredited by the Commission on Occupational Education Institutions of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools[10]. Finally, Delta School of Business and Technology [4] specializes in vocational courses.


The city's first library opened in 1904, and was financed by Andrew Carnegie[11]. Located in downtown, it is named the Carnegie Memorial Library. The Calcasieu Parish Public Library System [5] has thirteen locations throughout Calcasieu Parish, and includes the large Central Library located in Lake Charles off of Ernest Street[12].


Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau in Lake Charles promotes tourism and conventions in Calcasieu Parish
Lakefront boardwalk in Lake Charles

Culture is something the city is known for because of south Louisiana's strong Cajun influence. Many of the popular festivals are held at the Civic Center. The most popular, Contraband Days, is hosted on the Civic Center grounds and lakefront. The city has its own symphony orchestra, the Lake Charles Symphony, which was founded in 1938 and hosts concerts at the Rosa Hart Theatre[13].

Museums and Theatres

Lake Charles has five museums. The Central School Arts and Humanities Center features the Black Heritage Art Gallery, which is on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, which features extravagant costumes and an interactive float, is located inside[14]. The Children's Museum of Lake Charles [6] caters to children as a learning center. The Imperial Calcasieu Museum [7] features a permanent historic exhibit with artifacts and an art gallery[15]. Its grounds are home to the Sallier oak tree, which is over 400 years old[16]. The Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center is used as exhibition space; many moving art exhibits are displayed at this public art gallery each month[17].

McNeese State University produces The Banners Series, a series of various musical and theatrical performances, throughout the year. The Series also hosts lectures from notable persons and academics each year. In addition, The Lake Charles Little Theatre, The Artists Civic Theatre Studios (ACTS) Theatre and The Children's Theatre Company provide excellent theater with local talent.

Nightlife and Entertainment

A burgeoning nightlife is another cultural face of the city. Lake Charles hosts popular concerts known as Downtown at Sundown at the Civic Center[18]. L'Auberge du Lac also has its own nightlife with its Jack Daniel's Bar and Grill[19]. Ryan Street in the historic downtown area is known for its karaoke bars and restaurants such as Luna's Bar and Grill, Blue Duck Cafe, O.B.'s Bar and Grill, and Pujo Street Cafe. Other popular bars throughout the area include Cowboys, Yesterdays, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Frosty Factory.

The city's newest casino resort, L'Auberge du Lac, provides many cultural opportunities open to the public. At 26 stories (the first 21 of which consist of guest rooms) and with nearly 1000 guest rooms, this hotel tower is the tallest building between Houston and Baton Rouge[20]. The resort includes a spa, two heated swimming pools and a non-heated lazy river, restaurants, gift shops, and the Contraband Bayou Golf Club at L'Auberge, an 18 hole public golf course designed by Tom Fazio[21]. The resort also provides a venue for popular entertainers; celebrities such as Gretchen Wilson, Willie Nelson, Wayne Newton, Bill Cosby, Jay Leno, The Beach Boys, Merle Haggard, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers and Loretta Lynn have been brought in to the L'Auberge Event center. The casino resort has a great nightlife; bands are showcased at Jack Daniel's Bar & Grill and at the Stage Bar inside the casino. During the summer, Parties by the Pool[22] bring in thousands of people across the area.

Sports and Recreation

Lake Charles is home to the well-respected and popular McNeese Cowboys[23], whose football team hosts games at Cowboy Stadium. It is also home to the Louisiana Swashbucklers[24], who play games at Sudduth Coliseum at the Civic Center. Lake Charles is also home to Burton Coliseum, which hosts the Cowboys basketball teams. Golf is popular at the city's Mallard Cove Golf Course. Four other golf courses are played by many residents and visitors: Greywood Plantation Golf Course, Lake Charles Country Club Golf Course, Pine Shadows Golf Course, and the Contraband Bayou Golf Club at L'Auberge du Lac, designed by Tom Fazio. Graywood Plantation Golf Course is featured on Louisiana's Audubon Golf Trail.[25] The city has 31 parks, many of which include playground equipment, athletic facilities, and walking paths[26]. The South Lake Charles Little League has had nationally-winning teams televised on ESPN. Hunting and fishing are popular with both residents and visitors to the Lake Area[27].



Lake Charles has several publications in circulation. The most widely distributed, daily newspaper is The American Press. Other popular periodicals include Lagniappe Magazine, The Times of Southwest Louisiana, The Jambalaya News, Gumbeaux Magazine, and Thrive magazine; however, the latter four are non-daily.


Major television network affiliates serving the area include:


Call Letters Frequency City of License Format
KYLC 90.3 Lake Charles Religious
KTSR 92.1 DeQuincy Mainstream Top-40
KHLA 92.9 Jennings Classic Hits
KYKZ 96.1 Lake Charles Country
KQLK 97.9 Deridder Rhythmic Top-40
KNGT 99.5 Lake Charles Country
KELB (LP) 100.5 Lake Charles Religious
KKGB 101.3 Sulphur Rock
KAJN 102.9 Crowley Contemporary Christian
KBIU 103.3 Lake Charles JACK-FM
KZWA 104.9 Moss Bluff Urban Contemporary
KJMH 107.5 Lake Arthur Urban
KEZM 1310 AM Sulphur Sports
KAOK 1400 AM Lake Charles News & Sports Talk
KXZZ 1580 AM Lake Charles Soul


Christianity is the predominant religion in the Lake Area. Roman Catholicism is the largest individual denomination, claiming about 50% of the population. Lake Charles is also home to various Protestant Christian denominations, the largest being the Southern Baptist congregation with 30%[28]. The city is also home to a Jewish community as well as other faiths.


Interstate 10 passes through Lake Charles, connecting the city with Houston to the west and New Orleans to the east. The I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge goes over part of the lake and Calcasieu River. Featuring decorative guns on the siding, it is 135 feet high. Interstate 210 is an interstate highway bypass that loops through the southern portion of the city. This beautiful curving bridge goes over the Calcasieu Ship Channel. The loop has served Lake Charles commuters for 40 years, and its ten exits drastically lower the commute time[29].

Other major highways include U.S. Highway 90, which runs parallel with Interstate 10, and U.S. Highway 171, which connects the city to the north with Moss Bluff, DeRidder, and Shreveport. Another major thoroughfare is Ryan Street, running north to south connecting downtown to the southern portions of the city.


Lake Charles Regional Airport [30], located south of the city, is Lake Charles's only airport that provides commercial airline service. Chennault International Airport [31], while a fully operational airport, is an industrial and maintenance center. The latter airport, a former Strategic Air Command US Air Force base during the Cold War, is named for Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault, the aviator famous for commanding the Flying Tigers fighter group during World War II. Both airports provide many jobs for the area.


The Port of Lake Charles[32] is the twelfth-largest seaport in the United States, the fourth-largest liner service seaport in the U.S. Gulf, and a major West Gulf container load center. The City Docks in Lake Charles are the main hub of shipping activity. The Calcasieu Ship Channel provides direct access to the Gulf of Mexico 34-miles downstream. The ship channel, which has a projected depth of 40 feet and a bottom width of 400 feet, intersects the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway just north of Calcasieu Lake. The Port itself creates over 10,000 direct jobs, and is a major economic engine of Lake Charles [33]. The Port leases industrial properties in other areas of the parish as well.

Public Transportation

The City of Lake Charles has an operating bus system throughout the city and surrounding suburbs[34]. On July 7, 2006, The U.S. Dept. of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded a $290,142 grant to the Lake Charles Bus Terminal and Support Facilities Transit System. The City will use these funds towards its bus terminal and support facility, which adds more federal funds for engineering and design, as well as rehabilitation and renovation of the bus terminal and support facility. Lake Charles also has its own Greyhound bus station. Its Amtrak station is located near Interstate 10.


Industry and Manufacturing

Many in the Lake Area are employed by the petro-chemical refineries located across the river near Sulphur and Westlake; some of the corporations with facilities in or around the city include PPG Industries, ConocoPhillips, and Citgo Petroleum Corporation.

The Trunkline LNG terminal, immediately southwest of Lake Charles, is one of the United States' few LNG terminals. It has facilities for LNG receipt, storage and re-gassification.

Lake Charles Cogeneration, a subsidiary of Leucadia National, began construction of a $1.6 billion petroleum coke gasification plant in early 2009.[35]

Manufacturing has been beginning to achieve economic success in the area in order to diversify the economic base of the city. Chennault International Airport hosts Aeroframe (formerly EADS Aeroframe Services), which services airplanes, and a Northrop Grumman facility.

The Shaw Group is currently building a large manufacturing facility which will manufacture parts for nuclear power plants. The company has assured the city and residents that nuclear material and radioactive waste are not involved at the facility. Shaw will employ over one thousand workers when it is up to full capacity.

Commerce and Retail

Lake Charles serves as the shopping and retail hub of the five-parish area. It supports many small businesses, especially along Ryan Street and throughout the downtown area. Prien Lake Mall, located right off of Interstate 210, is anchored by three department stores: Dillard's, Sears, and JCPenney. It has over 80 specialty shops. Retailers include Talbots, Gap, Aeropostale, Bath & Body Works, American Eagle, Buckle, and Hollister. Cinemark 14 theatre, designed with a 1930s look, provides stadium seating with all digital technology.

The Lake Charles Power Centre, located off of Interstate 210 and Highway 14, is a newer and growing shopping area that offers Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Home Depot, Lowe's, United Artists 10-Screen Theatre, Academy Sports, Michaels, Goody's, Old Navy, Shoe Carnival, Outback Steakhouse, Logan's Roadhouse, Carino's Italian Grill, Back Yard Burgers, Tequila's Mexican restaurant, and two Japanese steakhouses.

L'Auberge du Lac Casino Resort offers retail stores as well, including specialized stores and several upscale clothing boutiques[36].

Healthcare and Medicine

Lake Charles is home to a growing medical community. It is served by five hospitals: Christus St. Patrick Hospital, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, W. O. Moss Regional Hospital, Women and Children's Hospital, and Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women, which is located in a growing area of the city. The two largest, St. Patrick's and Lake Charles Memorial, each have over 1,000 beds. Many specialized doctors' offices and medical clinics have located along the recently-renamed Dr. Michael E. DeBakey Drive, named after the world-renowned surgeon who was born and raised in Lake Charles. Another new medical complex is the Imperial Calcasieu Surgical Center, located on Imperial Boulevard. In addition, McNeese State University's Nursing program is a nationally recognized program with many nursing graduates employed at area hospitals.

Festivals and Holidays

Lake Charles plays host to over one-hundred festivals and carnivals, giving the city its nickname, "The Festival Capital of Louisiana."

Contraband Days

Contraband Days is a twelve-day annual festival held during the first two weeks of May. The celebrations are filled with savory Cajun food, family fun, and live entertainment. The festival is attended by more than 200,000 people, making it one of the largest celebrations in Louisiana. In a reference to the legends of piracy on the lake and Contraband Bayou, the festival begins when the pirate Jean Lafitte[37] and his crew capture the port and force the mayor to walk the plank.

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana has a colorful history dating back to 1882, when Momus, King of Mardi Gras, landed his royal yacht at the foot of Pujo Street in downtown Lake Charles.

Throughout the two World Wars, Mardi Gras was downsized which led to a lack of participation by the area's youth. However, an interest to redevelop the festivities arose, and the first Mardi Gras Ball in Lake Charles was staged in 1964.

The full revival of Mardi Gras in Lake Charles was not realized until 1979, when several Krewe captains formed the "Krewe of Krewes", with the primary purpose of parading and promoting Mardi Gras for local residents. In 1985, Mardi Gras of Imperial Calcasieu, Inc. was formed by a group of civic-minded volunteers to further aid in the preservation of this festival.[38]

Other Festivals

Notable Natives and Residents

Cultural References


  • Setting and title of a song by Lucinda Williams about a fatal car crash.
  • Mentioned in the lyrics of the song Continental Trailways Blues by Steve Earle.
  • Mentioned in the lyrics of the song Up on Cripple Creek by The Band:
When I get off of this mountain, you know where I want to go? /

Straight down the Mississippi river, to the Gulf of Mexico. / To Lake Charles, Louisiana / little Bessie, girl that I once knew.


  • 2002 - Blue Vinyl Directed by Daniel B. Gold and Judith Helfand. It featured Mossville, a community stranded near the petrochemical plants, dealing with the effects of vinyl chloride pollution.
  • 2006 - Mercy Directed by Patrick Roddy. Ex con John Mercy finds the transition from prison life is not easy. As John begins to settle into his new life on the outside, a mysterious woman starts to follow him and finds her way into his dreams, creating nightmares with devastating consequences that threatens his parole, sanity and dream for a new start.
  • 2009 - Good Boy Directed by Patrick Roddy, written by Ken Henderson of Moss Bluff, LA. Good Boy is about a young man in a dead end job, who steals from his employer and hits the road for a new life. His journey to freedom is derailed by a mysterious, sadistic killer and his human pets.

Nearby Suburbs and Cities

  • Bell City is a small town of a few thousand located southeast of the city.
  • Carlyss is a town of 4,049 located between Sulphur and Hackberry.
  • Grand Lake is a town of 2,320 located south of Lake Charles just south of the Calcasieu-Cameron Parish line. The area is primarily connected to Lake Charles via Louisiana Highway 385.
  • Iowa is a town of 2,663 just east of the city.
  • Hackberry is a town of a few thousand south of Sulphur in Cameron Parish.
  • LeBleu Settlement is extensive area spanning over Calcasieu and Jefferson Davis parishes, adjacent to Moss Bluff and Iowa, with several thousand residents.
  • Moss Bluff is an unincorporated, growing suburb of 10,535 north of the city via U.S. Highway 171.
  • Prien is an unincorporated, growing suburb of 7,215 just south of the city limits.
  • Starks is a town of about one thousand located west of the city.
  • Sulphur is a city of 22,512 located to the west of Lake Charles via Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 90.
  • Welsh is a town of 3,380 east of the city.
  • Westlake is a suburb of 4,668 located directly west of the Calcasieu River and Lake Charles from the city.
  • Vinton, Louisiana is a town of 3,338 west of the city.

Sister Cities

Lake Charles is a proud sister city of:

External links


  1. ^ "Lake Charles, Louisiana (LA) Detailed Profile" (notes), City Data, 2007, webpage: C-LCh.
  2. ^ a b c "Census 2000 Data for the State of Louisiana" (town list), US Census Bureau, May 2003, webpage: C2000-LA.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
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  35. ^ KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana |$1.6 Billion Petroleum Coke Gasification Plant Gets Funding
  36. ^
  37. ^ Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. "Lake Charles Historical Marker".  
  38. ^ "History of Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana."
  39. ^ "Andre Dubus" (web). Rea Award. Rea Award.. 2006. pp. 1. Retrieved 2006-09-14.  
  40. ^ "Dumars Says His Parents Are To Thank". 2006-04-04. Retrieved 2007-02-07.  
  41. ^
  42. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2008". Retrieved December 10, 2009.  
  43. ^ KPLC 7 At Your Service, the News for Southwest Louisiana, health, sports, weather, video, community events, classifieds and more. | Neil Woolley
  44. ^ Nellie Lutcher Collection
  45. ^ ISTHMUS | The Daily Page | THE GUIDE to Events in Madison, WI
  46. ^ "House District 35", Louisiana Encyclopedia (1999)
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  49. ^ - Roach signs sister-city pact with Cobh, Ireland (5/24)

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