St. John the Baptist Parish (SJBP, French: Paroisse de Saint-Jean-Baptiste) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 45,924. The parish seat is Edgard, an unincorporated area, and the largest city is LaPlace, which is also unincorporated.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the parish has a total area of 348 square miles (900 km), of which 213 square miles (550 km) are land and 135 square miles (350 km) (39%) are water. It is the third-smallest parish in Louisiana by land area and fifth-smallest by total area.
St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana is located on the Mississippi River approximately 130 miles (210 km) upriver from the Gulf of Mexico and 30 miles (48 km) upriver from the City of New Orleans. The area, known as the River Region, has an abundance of natural resources and a mild “Sunbelt” climate. The average monthly temperature in New Orleans ranges from 55.1° in January to 83.7° in July, and rainfall averages 53.2² per year with monthly averages running from 2.52² in October to 7.17² in July. The New Orleans/River Region contains a good supply of raw materials, which has helped Louisiana maintain a high rank in the United States in the production of natural gas, petroleum, sulphur, salt, and fur pelts. High silica sands, lime, clays, timber, seafood, and various agricultural products are also produced in abundance.
St. John the Baptist Parish is bisected by the Mississippi River. Though the River separates the Parish into northern and southern parts, the former is still referred to as the “east bank” and the latter as the “west bank,” referring to the direction of the river as it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi provides an important transportation corridor which supports the heavy industry located in the area.
St. John the Baptist Parish is bordered by St. Charles Parish and Lake Pontchartrain to the east, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas to the north, Lafourche Parish and Lac des Allemands to the south, and St. James Parish to the west. It is one of four parishes which comprise the “River Parishes;” St. John Parish is the heart of the “River Parishes.”
This section of the state, also consisting of St. James, Ascension, and St. Charles Parishes, makes up the area along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Since the mid-20th century, when the oil industry developed from resources found here, all of these parishes are home to at least one major chemical- and/or petroleum-processing facility. The industry is the major source of employment in the region but it has had adverse environmental effects. St. John the Baptist parish has the highest rate of environmental cancer of any census tract in the United States. ]
Much of the parish is either open water or wetlands. The wetlands are currently protected by federal law and development is limited to what is permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and/or the Federal Wildlife and Fisheries Department.
Higher ground in the parish is found in an alluvial plain which generally borders the Mississippi River on both sides. Soil deposits from the Mississippi’s annual flooding created a rich and fertile area which has historically been intensively farmed (sugar cane, soybeans, feed corn, and occasional cotton). This fact, and the natural transportation corridor supplied by the river, resulted in the creation of numerous plantations and farms along the lower Mississippi Valley.
Many of these plantations were large tracts of land with modest or average-sized homes and outbuildings found on the higher ground. Several, however, were improved with palatial mansions. Three of the larger homes have survived in St. John Parish, as noted in the History above.
The higher ground along the banks was used to grow crops, while the wetlands were valued for their abundant timber, hunting and fishing. For years development in the River Parishes was limited to those areas that were naturally higher and less prone to flooding. Until the existing levees and pump systems were built, however, few places were truly safe from high water. Even today, most of the parish is considered a flood hazard area according to FEMA Flood Maps.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 45,924 people residing in the parish. 53.5% were Black or African American, 42.5% White, 0.7% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 1.5% of some other race and 1.4% of two or more races. 4.7% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).
As of the census of 2000, there were 43,044 people, 14,283 households, and 11,312 families residing in the parish. The population density was 197 people per square mile (76/km²). There were 15,532 housing units at an average density of 71 per square mile (27/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 52.58% White, 44.76% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.86% from other races, and 0.98% from two or more races. 2.86% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 14,283 households out of which 43.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.10% were married couples living together, 18.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.80% were non-families. 17.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.38.
In the parish the population was spread out with 31.20% under the age of 18, 9.70% from 18 to 24, 30.20% from 25 to 44, 21.10% from 45 to 64, and 7.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 94.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.70 males.
The median income for a household in the parish was $39,456, and the median income for a family was $43,925. Males had a median income of $37,293 versus $22,323 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $15,445. About 13.90% of families and 16.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.70% of those under age 18 and 17.80% of those age 65 or over.