History of the City of Hammond
A pioneering railroad town, Hammond, LA, has been a staple of Northshore life since 1830 when Peter Hammond decided to make his new home 55 miles outside of New Orleans. Hammond was originally from Sweden, and moved to this area to manufacture products from resin in pine trees, shipping them to New Orleans to sell.
In 1854 the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad began pumping people and money into this small, pioneer town. A flag station just a block away from the current train depot was called “Hammond’s crossing” and brought in handfuls of new people. Peter Hammond was so convinced that the railroad was crucial to the growth of city that he signed a contract with the rail company, forcing the trains to stop every time they passed through Hammond.
Five years after the railroad came to town, another important piece of Hammond’s development arrived. Charles Emery Cate moved his family into the area in 1859 from New Orleans because of the natural springs, lush pine forests, and desirable climate. Cate immediately began to help the city grow, building a factory, selling crossties, tar and turpentine, as well as laying out city streets and planting oak trees along the curbs.
During the Civil War, Cate owned a shoe factory that made and shipped shoes to the Confederate Army. His factory sent nearly 45,000 shoes to the solders before it was found and destroyed by Union soldiers.
At the turn of the 20th century, Hammond struck gold – in the form of red. With the development of the strawberry industry, Hammond saw another explosion in growth. The city became a center for growing, processing, and shipping strawberries. Boxcar loads of strawberries became a staple of the area. As the trains left the city headed north, the money flowed south.
Hammond has never ceased its long history of prosperity. Planes began flying into the area as the airport was developed, and the founding of Southeastern Louisiana University has brought thousands upon thousands of students through the city. Industry has moved in, and with it, more people. And the development of the interstate corridors of I-55 and I-12, Hammond’s footprint has only expanded.
As the city is located only 30 miles from the state capitol and 55 miles from New Orleans at the crossroads of the two major interstates, many people are choosing to locate in Hammond and commute to their big-city jobs.
Hammond offers its own cultural offerings courtesy of the Columbia Theatre, Hammond Regional Arts Center and the Downtown Development District, numerous restaurants and an ever-growing selection of shops and stores. Still, with less than an hour drive, a Hammond resident can have access to even more shops, restaurants and culture. Small-town living with big-city flare gives Hammond a lifestyle edge.