Try to look left and right when you’re driving down Government Street in Baton Rouge.
The speed limit may be 45 mph, but I usually find myself going at about 30-35 while peering out the driver and passenger windows of my car on Government. What would otherwise be another banal highway in a city with too much sprawl is, instead, decorated for miles with vibrant street art and aging, handcrafted advertisements.
Unlike the growing cultural district in downtown Baton Rouge or LSU’s campus, Government Street is not the most pedestrian friendly area the city has to offer. The sidewalks are bumpy (the roads are really bumpy), many of the buildings are dilapidated, many more appear abandoned. Aside from a few bicyclists, traveling down Government can be somewhat lonely.
Everything about Government Street – even the name – seems somewhat rundown. (Wouldn’t you rather travel down a road like Bluebonnet Boulevard as opposed to Government?). But this is what makes Government Street – and maybe Baton Rouge – so charming, at least me.
So much of Baton Rouge is changing, people tell me. I’ve lived here for a couple years, and that change seems to push for a more polished city, though maybe a more generic city. Government Street is unpolished and its artwork shows a side of Baton Rouge that is authentic.
So slow down when you drive through.