|City of Houma|
Terrebonne Parish Courthouse at Houma
Location of Houma in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
|Principal city||Houma–Bayou Cane–Thibodaux Metropolitan Statistical Area|
|• Body||Consolidated City-Parish|
|• Parish President||Gordon Dove|
|• City||14.56 sq mi (37.72 km2)|
|• Land||14.43 sq mi (37.36 km2)|
|• Water||0.14 sq mi (0.36 km2)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||2,358.52/sq mi (910.63/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|Rivers||Bayou Terrebonne Intracoastal Waterway|
Houma (// HOH-mə) is the largest city in the parish seat of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, United States and the largest principal city of the Houma–Bayou Cane–Thibodaux Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's powers of government have been absorbed by the parish, which is now run by the Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government. The population was 33,727 at the 2010 census, an increase of 1,334 over the 2000 tabulation of 32,393.
Many unincorporated areas are adjacent to the city of Houma. The largest, Bayou Cane, is an urbanized area commonly referred to by locals as being part of Houma, but it is not included in the city's census counts, and is a separate census-designated place. If the populations of the urbanized census-designated places were included with that of the city of Houma, the total would exceed 60,000 residents. The city was named after the historic Native American tribe of Houma people, believed to be related to the Choctaw. The United Houma Nation Tribe is recognized by the state of Louisiana, but it has not achieved federal recognition.
Houma was rated as an "Affordable" city by Demographia's 2013 International Housing Survey.
Houma was colonized by European Americans in 1834 at a former settlement of the Houma people, who historically occupied this area. The city was named after them. The city was incorporated in 1848. The United Houma Nation and two other Houma tribes have been recognized by the state. Houma is rated as a medium-size city.
The area was developed for sugar cane plantations in the antebellum years. These were worked primarily by large numbers of enslaved African Americans, as sugar cane cultivation and processing was highly labor intensive. Plantations were sited along the rivers and bayous in order to have access to water transportation.
In retaliation, Union officers brought 400 troops into Houma, and began a wholesale arrest of residents. In his 1963 book, historian John D. Winters describes the following events:
The investigation of the murders lasted several days but failed to reveal the guilty parties. To frighten the citizens, the home of a Doctor Jennings was burned, two other houses were torn down, and the home and slave quarters of an outlying plantation were burned. The soldiers next began to seize sheep, cattle, mules, wagons, and saddle horses. Negroes began to desert their masters and to flock to the protection of the troops. The frightened citizens had no means of resistance, and many found it hard to stand by and see their country despoiled by a few hundred troops.
Reconstruction to present
Sugar cane continued to be important after the war and into the 20th century. Skilled sugar cane workers struggled to organize under the Knights of Labor in the 1880s, seeking pay in cash rather than scrip and improved wages. The state helped planters suppress a major strike of 10,000 African-American workers in four sugar parishes in 1887. An estimated 50 were killed in November 1887 by local paramilitary whites in what is called the Thibodaux Massacre in Lafourche Parish, with hundreds more said to be wounded, dead or missing.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.2 square miles (37 km2), of which 14.0 square miles (36 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (0.92%) is water.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
At the 2010 census, there were 33,727 people, 10,634 households and 16,283 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,308.5 per square mile (891.4/km²). There were 12,514 housing units at an average density of 891.8 per square mile (344.4/km²). The racial make up of the city was 67.46% White, 20.62% Black, 5.45% Native American, 1.71% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.68% from other races, and 1.87% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.76% of the population.
In 2000, there were 11,634 households of which 35.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.5% were married couples living together, 16.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.8% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.24.
27.9% of the population were under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.
The median household income was $34,471 and the median family income was $40,679. Males had a median income of $35,897 and females $22,202. The per capita income was $17,720. About 16.4% of families and 20.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.7% of those under age 18 and 17.3% of those age 65 or over.
Terrebonne Parish School District operates public schools.
Southdown High School (originally Houma Colored High School) was constructed in the mid-20th century as a segregated school for black students, serving them exclusively from 1946 to 1969. After that the school was integrated, following passage in 1964 of civil rights legislation.
Houma and the surrounding communities are steeped in the French and Cajun history of the region. Originally the region was settled by French and Spanish colonists who made their way south through Bayou Lafourche. In the late 18th century numerous Acadians (later known as Cajuns) settled in the region. The Acadians had been expelled by the British from Nova Scotia during the Seven Years War for their unwillingness to take a loyalty oath to the British King. The number expelled was about 15,000 in number, of which 3,000 settled in this region. Others went to France. As the French, Spanish, Acadians and Native American people mixed over the decades, a unique Cajun culture was born.
The swampland around Houma resulted in the area being quite isolated from the rest of Louisiana and the United States well into the 1930s, thus outside influences, such as radio and WWI patriotism, failed to inspire the Cajuns to become more "Americanized". The Cajun culture and use of French language in this region persevered much longer than in cities on the border of Cajun country, such as Lake Charles, Louisiana or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Traditional Cajun culture in Houma includes the French language, Cajun cuisine, and celebration of Catholic festivals such as Mardi Gras. That folk culture remains evident today and attracts many tourists to the region.
In the 1970s many South Vietnamese refugees emigrated following the Communist takeover of their region. They settled in Southern Louisiana to work as shrimpers, just as they had in Vietnam. A fairly significant portion of them settled in New Orleans, and many settled in Houma as well, in addition to elsewhere along the Gulf Coast. Many ethnic Vietnamese families still work at shrimping, as their families have for several decades.
Downtown Houma has been designated as an historic district and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers a downtown walking tour and attractions such as the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum, the Folklife Culture Center, the Regional Military Museum, Southdown Plantation, the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, monuments to local armed forces, and local eateries.
Although Houma is quickly changing, many residents in the surrounding communities continue to make their living from the Gulf as their ancestors did. They work as shrimpers, oystermen, crabbers, fishermen, and trappers, although more have shifted to work in occupations of the oil industry and ship building. As reported by records held by the United States Government Patent and Trademark Office, Houma, Louisiana was the site of the deepest oil well in Terrebonne Parish.
In popular culture
- Houma and the surrounding area are the setting for the fictional Swamp Thing comic books.
- V. C. Andrews' novel Ruby (1994) is also set here.
- The Suicide Squad is based at Belle Reve in Houma.
- The 1996 film The Apostle, starring Robert Duvall, was filmed partially in Terrebonne Parish.
- The 1999 films Crazy in Alabama, Fight Club, and A Lesson Before Dying were filmed partially in Houma.
- Many wetlands shots in the IMAX production, Hurricane on the Bayou, were filmed in the area.
- The film The Skeleton Key (2005) is set in Houma and the nearby area of Bayou Gauche.
- An HBO documentary, The Recruiter (2008), followed the life of an Army recruiter and several of his recruits from Houma.
- Several scenes from the 2013 film, The Butler, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, were filmed in downtown Houma.
- In 1992, Unsolved Mysteries profiled the case of Adam John "AJ" Breaux, a resident of Houma, Louisiana, who went missing in 1991.
The local newspaper is The Courier, founded in 1878 as Le Courrier de Houma by the French-born Lafayette Bernard Filhucan Bazet. He first published it in four-page, half-French half-English editions. Sold to The New York Times Company in 1980, it is now part of GateHouse Media.
The Houma Times is located in Houma. The newspaper is a weekly publication with a website updated daily. It serves the Terrebonne, Lafourche, and St. Mary parishes. In 2014, Houma-based Rushing Media merged with Guidry Group, Inc., which had owned the publication since its inception in 1997.
The area's only local broadcast TV station, KFOL-CD, is located in Houma. KFOL, also known as HTV, produces a weeknight newscast, followed by local phone calls and guests. Other shows include Sportsman's Paradise and One on One. KFOL broadcasts in digital on channel 30.1. The statewide TV network LCN-TV produces original Louisiana programming which showcases Louisiana's entertainment, culture, talent and industry. LCN-TV is delivered to all media distributors. Debuted in 2007, LCN-TV continues to produce Louisiana TV shows for the U.S.
Houma relies mainly on roads and personal vehicles as the main form of transportation. The major roads in Houma are:
- US Route 90
- LA HWY 311
- Tunnel Blvd. (LA 3040)
- LA 24 (locally called West Park Ave.(westbound) and Main St.(eastbound))
- LA 182 (New Orleans Blvd.)
- South and North Hollywood Rd.
- St. Louis Canal Rd.
- Savanne Rd.
- Valhi Blvd.
- Cambrai, Nord, Hauts-de-France, France
- Datca, Muğla Province, Turkey
- Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada
- In June 2012, Terrebonne Parish signed a letter of intent to become a sister city with Weihai, China, for economic development purposes.
- George Arceneaux, Jr., U.S. District Court judge from 1979 until his death in office in 1993
- Tab Benoit, blues musician and co-star of the IMAX movie feature Hurricane on the Bayou
- Sherman A. Bernard, Louisiana insurance commissioner from 1972–88, graduated from Terrebonne High School in Houma
- Elward Thomas Brady, Jr., state representative from Terrebonne Parish from 1972–76; businessman
- Wanda Brister, operatic mezzo-soprano, presently on the faculty at Florida State University
- Joe Burks, professional athlete
- Leonard J. Chabert, member of both houses of Louisiana State Legislature from Terrebonne Parish; namesake of Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma
- Marty J. Chabert, former state senator from Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes
- Norby Chabert, current Republican member of Louisiana State Senate from Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes
- Richie Cunningham, professional athlete
- Gordon Dove, president of Terrebonne Parish and former state representative
- Claude B. Duval (1914–1986), former member of Louisiana State Senate
- Allen J. Ellender (1890–1972), former president pro tempore and Democratic U.S. Senator
- Leon Gary (1912-2000), mayor of Houma from 1946 to 1962
- Skyler Green, gridiron football wide receiver and return specialist
- Johnny Hartman (1923-1983), jazz singer
- Hal Haydel, professional athlete
- Cyril and Libbye Hellier, operatic sopranos
- Brandon Jacobs, NFL running back
- Frank Lewis, professional athlete
- Morris Lottinger, Jr., former state representative and retired circuit court judge from Houma
- Morris Lottinger, Sr., state representative from 1936–50, House Speaker from 1948-50, and state circuit court judge until retirement in 1965
- Jay Pennison, professional athlete
- Dax Riggs, frontman for Acid Bath, Deadboy and the Elephantmen, Agents of Oblivion, others
- Quvenzhané Wallis, young film actress (Beasts of the Southern Wild, 2012)
- J. Louis Watkins, Jr., judge of Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal from 1979 to 1997; former attorney in Houma
- Wally Whitehurst, MLB pitcher
- Tramon Williams, professional athlete
- Jerome Zeringue, state representative for Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, effective 2016
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild, sometimes warm winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Houma has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
|Climate data for Houma, Louisiana|
|Record high °F (°C)||88
|Average high °F (°C)||67
|Daily mean °F (°C)||56
|Average low °F (°C)||45
|Record low °F (°C)||−12
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||4.1
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