Shreveport: A Brief History
Details provided by Eric J. Brock
Initial SettlementShreveport, Louisiana, was founded in 1836, by the Shreve Town Company, a corporation established to develop a town at the juncture of the newly navigable Red River and the Texas Trail, an overland route into the newly independent Republic of Texas and, prior to that time, into Mexico.
The Red River had been cleared of the 180 mile long raft of debris that had clogged its channel since time immemorial by Captain Henry Miller Shreve, commanding the US Army Corps of Engineers. In Shreve's honor, the Shreve Town Company and the village of Shreve Town were named. On March 20, 1839, the village of Shreve Town was incorporated as the town of Shreveport.
IncorporationIn 1871 Shreveport was incorporated as a city. Shreveport's original boundaries were contained within a parcel of land sold to the Shreve Town Company by the indigenous Caddo Indians in 1835. In 1838, Caddo Parish (county) was carved out of Natchitoches Parish and Shreve Town became the parish seat; Shreveport remains the parish seat of Caddo Parish, Louisiana today.
DevelopmentThe original town site consisted of 64 city blocks divided by eight streets running west from the Red River and eight streets running south from Cross Bayou, a tributary of the Red River. Today, this 64 block area is the city's central business district and is a National Register of Historic Places-listed district.
Shreveport, and its smaller sister city, Bossier city (founded in 1884 and incorporated in 1907) together have six historic districts and many landmarks listed on the National Register. In fact, Shreveport is second only to New Orleans among Louisiana cities with multiple historic landmarks. One of these is the McNeill Street Pumping Station, a waterworks built in 1887 that is still in use and is the unique example of its type in the nation. It is listed on the National Historic Landmarks list, the highest level of national historical designation.
Other Notable FeaturesThe Red River, opened by Shreve in the 1830s, remained navigable until 1914 when disuse, owing to the rise of the railroad as the preferred means of transporting goods and people, allowed it to begin silting up. Not until the 1990s was navigation of the river again possible to Shreveport. Today the port of Shreveport-Bossier city is being developed once again as a shipping center.
Also located in metro Shreveport is the Barksdale Army Air Field, opened in 1933. It is a national landmark as well.