In 1699 French explorers came face to face with a reddened cypress pole, a staked boundary marker used by Bayagoulas and Houma Native Americans to demarcate their respective hunting grounds. These French, who were apparently cut from some literal-minded cloth, decided to name the area baton rouge – red stick.
From one pole grew the capital of Louisiana, and a lot of sprawl. Baton Rouge stretches out in an unplanned clutter in many directions, tempered by repeated attempts at urban revitalization via the usual consumer panacea: food halls, microbreweries and the like. For all that, the main draw of 'BR' remains the same today as it has been for decades: football and tailgating at Louisiana State University (LSU).