Louisiana has exploded in growth since the 1980s. How has your city changed?

William Taylor Potter
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Louisiana has gained nearly half a million residents since the 1980s, and now Google Earth has a tool that lets users see just how their communities have changed over the last few decades.

The Google Earth Engine's Timelapse feature shows satellite snapshots of areas across the globe from 1984 through 2020, which can give a glimpse at how increases in population and urbanization are visualized from above. In some cases, particularly more rural areas, it can be difficult to tell what exactly is going on, but in many of Louisiana's population centers, it's possible to see how the landscape has changed over time.

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Here's a look at how Google Earth's images of Louisiana's major cities have changed since 1984:

Alexandria

Alexandria is the state's second-smallest metropolitan statistical area by population, according to the 2020 decennial census. In 2020, the area's population was around 152,192. Since 1980, the area's population has grown as estimated 12.7%, or by nearly 17,200, according to historical records from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Baton Rouge

Louisiana's capital region had a population of 870,569 as of the 2020 census, making it the second-most populous MSA in the state. In 1980, the area's population was around 494,000, with the area growing by around 376,600 residents or 76.2% over four decades.

Hammond

Hammond is the state's least populous metro area, and the area's population did not meet the level to be considered a metropolitan statistical area at the time of the 1980 census. As of the 2010 census, which was the first decennial census when Hammond was an MSA, the area had 121,097 residents. By 2020, the population had grown by around 12,100 residents, jumping nearly 10% to 133,157.

Houma-Thibodaux

The Houma-Thibodaux metro area had a population of 207,137 at the time of the 2020 census, growing by around 30,100 residents or 17% since the 1980 census, when its population was around 177,000. As of 2020, the Houma-Thibodaux area is the state's fourth-least populous metro area.

Lafayette

The Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area includes much of what is normally considered Acadiana, with one major exception being Opelousas and St. Landry Parish. The Lafayette area had 478,384 residents counted in the 2020 census, making it the third-largest in the state. Since 1980, the area has more than doubled its population, gaining an estimated 288,400 residents — or 151.8% — from around 190,000.

Lake Charles

The Lake Charles area had a population of about 167,000 in 1980, and it grew by an estimated 55,400 residents, or 33.2%, by 2020. Its population in the 2020 census was around 222,402, though the accuracy of the count may have been impacted by Hurricanes Laura and Delta, which devastated the region. Lake Charles was the state's fifth most-populous metro area in 2020.

Monroe

The Monroe Metropolitan Statistical Area is the third-least populous metro area in the state with around 207,104 residents counted in the 2020 census. In the 1980 census, the Monroe area had 139,000 residents. Over the four decades, the area gained an estimated 68,100 residents, growing by 49%.

New Orleans-Metairie

The New Orleans-Metairie metro area is the largest in the state, including around 1.27 million residents, according to the 2020 census. Since 1980, the population grew by around 15,850 residents, an increase of about 1.3% from the 1.26 million counted during the 1980 census.

Shreveport-Bossier City

In 2020, the Shreveport-Bossier City metro area was the fourth-largest in the state with 393,406 residents counted in 2020. In 1980, the area's population was an estimated 333,000 residents, and the population has grown by around 60,400 residents or 18.1% over the last four decades.