It’s not unusual for a state capitol building to be an attraction on the city’s skyline, but it is unusual for the capitol to dominate it. The tallest building in Baton Rouge is the 34 story, 450-foot-tall art-deco capitol, completed in 1932. It’s also the tallest state capitol building in the United States.
The front steps of the Louisiana State Capitol display the names of all 50 states. Hawaii and Alaska have to share a step, since they joined the Union after the capitol building was constructed. (Of course, I stopped at the Florida step, to pay homage to my adopted home state).
If it wasn’t for a small parking lot, there would be a great view of Baton Rouge’s downtown from the steps of the capitol.
Louisiana’s old state capitol building is also hard to miss. Sure, it’s not 34 stories tall. Instead, it grabs your attention by looking like a castle, transplanted here from medieval times.
The old state capitol building dates back to the late 1840’s, when lawmakers moved the capitol out of New Orleans. The old capitol building (which was, of course, at the time new), was built in the Gothic Revival style. During the Civil War, Union troops used the castle as a prison, then as a garrison — and in the process, it caught fire twice. In 1882 it was reconstructed, then served as the state house until 1932, when the new capitol building was complete.
Across the street from the old capitol building, there’s a park with a pier that stretches out into the Mississippi River. From here, you can get a nice view of the Baton Rouge skyline (the new capitol building is about 8 blocks north of here — you can see its tip on the left side of the picture, behind another building).
There’s also a good view of the Interstate 10 bridge over the Mississippi…
… and the USS Kidd, which served for 20 years (including World War II and the Korean War). Now, it serves as the centerpiece for the Louisiana Naval War Memorial.