Whether you’re a life-long resident or just passing through for a visit, one thing is certain: there is no shortage of fun things to do and interesting things to learn in Lafayette, Louisiana. Today Lafayette is a bustling cultural center that mixes urban life with rich cajun and creole traditions. But like most cities of its kind, Lafayette has an interesting history that accounts for the regions contemporary diversity.
Before any European or Canadian settlements reached the area that is today called Lafayette, a diverse population of Choctaw, Chitimacha, Atakapa-Ishak, and Opelousa Native Americans populated the region. By the early 1820’s, the first European settlement was officially established on the Vermilion River—Vermilionville.
Of course, the name Vermilionville didn’t quite stick. In 1869, Vermilionville attempted to change its name to Lafayette, but there was already another suburb of New Orleans so named. In 1884, however, New Orleans officially incorporated the former Lafayette into its boundaries, finally allowing Vermilionville to make its name-change.
Today, Lafayette is a hub of Cajun and Creole culture with a thriving downtown that saw a huge revitalization that started in the 1980s and continues to this day. Home to a number of large museums, festivals, and an endless variety of local businesses, Lafayette is today an important destination in the American South.
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