April 2, 2017 … 12:49 P.M. …

A question from a good friend recently triggered a search of my files.

The question concerned Shreveport and Caddo Parish population “growth” which traced mainly to the mid-1960s construction and opening of the Western Electric plant on Mansfield Road.

A key feature of that epic event was the annexation of the broad area then generally referred to as “Southern Hills.”

For many Southern Hills-area natives, the annexation of their homes and property into Shreveport was very unpopular. For decades following, many of those residents were politically estranged from the interests of Shreveport leadership.

Pre-internet, gathering and analyzing the necessary population data was anything but simple when the then-“Shreveport” Board of Realtors asked me to speak to them on July 16, 1986.

As it turned out, the research was certainly worth the effort.

I explained that day how Shreveport “growth” had come not from births-minus-deaths or domestic in-migration, but from key annexations of existing populations within adjacent Caddo Parish areas.

I stressed to the group how the Shreveport motto, “A City on the Grow,” was not actually the case:

… between 1960 and 1970, Shreveport “grew” by just under 18,000 residents, or 11%, but annexations – most notably “Southern Hills” – added some 25,000;

… between 1970 and 1980, Shreveport “grew” by 13%, about 23,000, but we hugely increased the area of the city with annexations, including 10,000 in the annexation of the then-called “Cooper Road” area.

I noted, specifically, the following:

“In Bossier City, real growth has been taking place, and will continue for some time. Sixty percent of combined Shreveport / Bossier growth between now and 2000 will be in Bossier City.”

That statement was dramatic to this particular group, of course. The combined population of the two cities in 1980 was 256,637 … a mere 50,817 – of whom lived in Bossier City … 19.8%.

Available data suggested that Bossier City was set to score 3-times its 1980 size in fewer than 20 years.

Put the other way, Shreveport – with more than 4-times Bossier’s population in 1980 – was set to be scorched in this contest … for a long time.

Work I had done on that subject had been supercharged by a major address delivered to the Shreveport (now “Downtown”) Rotary Club on July 22, 1982, by former Shreveport Mayor and City Council Chairman James C. “Jim” Gardner.

In the opening of his speech, entitled “Shreveport: City in Transition,” Gardner signaled urgency, if not alarm:

“… At all times, however, I have felt the ability – rightly or wrongly – to look ahead and have a fairly clear vision of what I felt to be Shreveport’s future. Today I am less certain of that future than at any previous time.

… (the) 1980 Census plus my personal observations indicate that we are in a state of tremendous transition. Shreveport is changing in ways that would have seemed impossible as recently as 1970. … (The) pattern has now been broken; a new Shreveport is being created.”

Of course, none of us forecast that the oil bust, beginning a mere four years later, would hammer us.

We now know that Bossier City would not follow Shreveport in a policy of “growing” the city by annexation. The headline growth story there is in parish data.

In 1980, the combined population of Caddo and Bossier parishes was 332,687, of which 24.1% lived in Bossier Parish. As of July 1, 2016, the combined population is 374,908, of which 33.6% live in Bossier Parish.

Put another way, since 1980, the Bossier Parish population has grown 57.0%, and Caddo has lost -1.4%.

© 2017 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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