Monroe, Louisiana is a city with a long and storied past that dates back to the Spanish colonial period. Located in northeastern Louisiana, Monroe is the center of the Monroe Metropolitan Statistical Area and the parish seat of Ouachita Parish. It is also the economic and cultural hub of Northeast Louisiana. The city was originally called Fort Miro, after Estavan Miro, the Spanish governor.
In 1819, it was renamed Monroe in honor of the first steamboat to travel down the Ouachita River, the James Monroe. This steamboat was named after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States. The steamboat is represented on a mural in the main branch of the Ouachita Parish Public Library. Monroe has an elevation of 72 feet (21.9 m) above sea level and a total area of 31.6 square miles (83.9 km).
It has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with normal annual rainfall of more than 51 inches (1.3 m). During spring and summer months, severe thunderstorms with heavy rain, hail, damaging winds and tornados occur in the area. The winter months are usually mild, with an average of 35 days of below zero or below zero temperatures per year. The summer months are hot and humid, with maximum temperatures exceeding 90 degrees and an average relative humidity of high to very high. Monroe is home to the 528th Engineer Battalion of the Louisiana Army National Guard and was once the headquarters of Delta Air Lines during the second half of the 1920s.
Monroe Regional Airport serves the city and northeast Louisiana with three main runways and regional partners such as American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific, BNSF and Norfolk Southern serve freight traffic in the city. Monroe is also home to higher education institutions such as Grambling State University, Louisiana Technological University and Louisiana State University. The University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) opened its doors in 1931 as Ouachita Parish Junior College and was renamed in 1999. Monroe is also home to Louisiana's Purchase Gardens and Zoos, which together keep more than 500 animals. Monroe has a population of about 48,000 while neighboring West Monroe has about 13,000 residents. West Monroe is located in Ouachita Parish and is part of the Monroe metropolitan area.
It was named after James Monroe who was one of the first European settlers in the area. Industrial development began in 1915 after the discovery of natural gas in the area which was once known as “Natural Gas Capital of the World”. The company was organized in the 1970s by Phil Robertson and is located at 117 Kings Lane next to Thomas Road in West Monroe. In August and September 1863, Monroe was the scene of two minor conflicts during the American Civil War. Monroe is now a thriving city that continues to shape its story through transportation and other developments. It is a center for manufacturing and trade in its surrounding rural parishes while also being a hub for culture and education.