Shreveport weighs in as the third-largest city and urban area in Louisiana with a population of 375,000 in the metropolitan area alone. The area of Shreveport and Bossier City, although separated by the Red River, is typically called "Shreveport-Bossier."
In its early years, Shreveport's economy was based on steamboat commerce, including the shipping of cotton and crops. Steamboats plied the Red River, using it as their main shipping route up until the early 1900s. As businesses increasingly relied on railroads as a means of shipping goods, waning steamboat traffic led to the river becoming overgrown and unnavigable.
In addition to its commercial reputation, Shreveport is known for its strong musical roots. Huddie William "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, internationally renowned blues singer and guitarist, performed for Shreveport audiences in the1910s in the seedy St. Paul's Bottoms district. The 1940s through the 1960s saw the Shreveport radio program, "Louisiana Hayride," jump-start the careers of some of the greatest names in American music, including Hank Williams Sr. and Elvis Presley.
In 1994 the Red River underwent a restoration project, which helped to renew the Shreveport-Bossier area as a useful port and shipping center. As the Red River opened up again to steamboats, riverboat gambling returned to the port, drawing large revenues from tourism. The 1990s revitalization efforts also affected the downtown and riverfront areas of Shreveport. The streets of downtown Shreveport were given a facelift - old damaged sidewalks were torn up and replaced with beautiful brick pathways and crosswalks, and various works of art were added as a finishing touch, including mosaics and sculptures by local artists.
Since the 1990s the city has experienced a boom in its economy due to its growing gaming industry. Shreveport is now recognized as second only to New Orleans for Louisiana tourism.