If you happen to travel down to the south bank of the Red River, the journey would end almost directly in the center of Louisiana. The ninth-largest city in the state, Alexandria, will welcome you with open arms. With a history that dates back to the traders and merchants in the mid- to late- 1700’s, Alexandria is one of the oldest settlements in Louisiana. Starting in the early 1800s, the city became a hub for transportation, trading, and agriculture.
Today, the city calls itself home to almost 50,000 people and the college campus of Louisiana State University at Alexandria. There are small bayous trickled throughout the city, surviving easily in the humid subtropical climate. With a unique history and dedication to preserving central Louisiana culture, Alexandria is a now a hub for education and learning.
Opened to the public in 1926, the Alexandria Zoological Park is owned by the city of Alexandria. The zoo, which originally started out as a row of cages in Brighurst Park, is currently made up of 33 acres of land. It is also presently home to approximately 500 animals. The home to over 35 threatened and endangered species, the Alexandria Zoo supports both Louisiana-based and global conservation efforts. The Alexandria Zoological Park states that their mission is “to promote understanding and conservation of the natural world in which we live.”
The Alexandria Museum of Art boasts a collection spanning from ceramics to photography to watercolors. Founded in 1977, the museum has spent the last forty years using educational programs and interesting exhibits to not only promote art, but also further the understanding and appreciation of it. The museum holds over 800 works of art in its permanent collection and also calls itself a temporary home to travelling exhibits. The museum itself is located in the Rapides Band and Trust Company Building. The building was completed in 1898 and is in the National Register of Historic Places as of May 15, 1980.
The Louisiana History Museum collects items important to the history of both Alexandria and the state of Louisiana. The first pieces of the museum’s collection were gathered around the 1970s to preserve the history of the state, but also show the beginnings of central Louisiana. The collection began as display cases in th eAlexandria Genealogical Library to more than 50 displays and exhibits of the Alexandria Public Library. The museum is home to thousands of photographs taken in central Louisiana, some dating back as far as the 1860s. The museum states that they have over 700 photos from the 1860s to the 1960s.
The building the museum and genealogical are located in began as the Alexandria Public Library in 1907. S.S. Bryan matched a $10 thousand grant from Andrew Carnegie to build a library under the stipulation that the city provide a site and maintenance forever. In 1971, the Alexandria City Council declared the building the Alexandria Historical and Genealogical Library and Museum.
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