Discover Lafayette’s Past – Southwestern Louisiana Institute Established in 1901

The City of Lafayette and its leaders have a strong history of stepping up to provide great technological services to its residents. In fact, Lafayette Utilities Systems was proposed by city leaders after the world watched in awe as the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair was lit up by electricity; the desire for pressurized water, as well as the ability to light its towns and streets, drove the public to demand its own electrical system.

By 1897, Lafayette Utilities System was operational with the opening of its Grant Street plant. The ability to offer electricity placed Lafayette in the lead position to be selected as the site for the Southwest Louisiana Industrial Institute (now UL – Lafayette) which opened its doors in 1901 with 100 students, and set Lafayette apart from neighboring cities as electricity attracted commerce, opportunity and growth. Today the campus covers 1500 acres and enrollment in Fall 2019 was over 19,000 students.