Monroe is the ninth largest city in the U.S. state of Louisiana and the namesake of U.S. President James Monroe. It is located east of the Ouachita River in the northeastern portion of Louisiana. According to the 2010 census, the population was 48,815, or a decline of 8.1 percent over the 2000 tabulation of 53,107.
Monroe is heavily African American and Democratic in political orientation. The mayor is the black Democrat Jamie Mayo, who has run unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives. Ouachita Parish, however, is predominantly Republican and is represented in the Louisiana House of Representatives by the strongly pro-life Frank Hoffmann.
Monroe is the home of the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo. To the west of the city is West Monroe, with a population in excess of 13,000. Also located there is the University of Louisiana at Monroe, formerly known as Northeast Louisiana State University.
Early in the 20th century, Joseph A. Biedenharn, the first bottler of Coca-Cola, moved to Monroe from Vicksburg, Mississippi. His home and gardens at 2006 Riverside Drive is a house museum. Until Biedenharn's bottling operation began, Coca-Cola could be procured only at soda fountains. Biedenharn was also one of the founders of Delta Air Lines, which subsequently moved to Atlanta, Georgia.