Our History

Downtown Ponchatoula, 1923 (photograph courtesy of the Judge Leon Ford Collection at the Center Southeast Louisiana Studies at Southeastern Louisiana University)

Downtown Ponchatoula, 1923 (photograph courtesy of the Judge Leon Ford Collection at the Center Southeast Louisiana Studies at Southeastern Louisiana University)

On February 12, 1861…

State legislature approved the incorporation of an area known as Ponchatoula. Initially serving as a train depot in the mid 1800’s, Ponchatoula had a humble, somewhat rocky beginning. Following the Civil War, Ponchatoula struggled to establish a strong, self-sustaining economy. However, after Reconstruction, farming became a major industry in South Louisiana. Soon, strawberry fields began popping up all around Tangipahoa Parish, especially in Ponchatoula. In fact, Ponchatoula strawberries became so popular that to this day, we are still known as the “Strawberry Capital of the World.” In addition, lumber and packing plants began to open and become a major source of income for locals. The economy was finally starting to grow in Ponchatoula!

Similar to the rest of the country, Ponchatoula experienced the same “highs” of the Roaring 20’s and “lows” of the Great Depression. However, following World War II, Ponchatoula began to prosper and grow as a diverse, strong economic community. Farming, a once popular means of income, began to somewhat dwindle. Yet, while the farming industry had declined, more commercial businesses began to arise. The area surrounding the railroad soon became a hub for local businesses. As the economy continued to grow, more and more residents began to flood into the small town. The growth in population lead to the development of more local businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.  As the town grew out from the railroad, the area surrounding the train depot began to be referred to as Downtown Ponchatoula.  

Fast forward through many decades, Ponchatoula is still growing. Our downtown is still a lucrative destination for business owners. And staying true to our roots, Downtown Ponchatoula has maintained its historic, small-town feel. As you walk down our streets of, you will see the original architecture from buildings built in the early 1900s. No matter where you go, you will experience southern charm from everyone you meet. As a community, we aspire to be true and genuine to everyone we encounter. And as a development program, my team and I will continue to reach for the same aspirations.

As we work on establishing Ponchatoula as a Downtown Development District, we will begin to revitalize our downtown community. My team and I will work to promote, unite, diversify and rejuvenate our district. We plan to maintain and restore the quality of our historic buildings while reshaping Downtown Ponchatoula into a vibrant destination for future generations.