Alexandria is the ninth-largest city in the state of Louisiana and is the parish seat of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, United States. It lies on the south bank of the Red River in almost the exact geographic center of the state. It is the principal city of the Alexandria metropolitan area (population 153,922) which encompasses all of Rapides and Grant parishes. Its neighboring city is Pineville. In 2010, the population was 47,723, an increase of 3 percent from the 2000 census.
Located along the Red River, the city of Alexandria was originally home to a community which supported activities of the adjacent French trader outpost of Post du Rapides. The area developed as an assemblage of traders, Caddo people, and merchants in the agricultural lands bordering the mostly unsettled areas to the north and providing a link from the south to the El Camino Real and then larger settlement of Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase.
Alexander Fulton, a businessman from Washington County, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received a land grant from Spain in 1762, and the first organized settlement was made at some point in the 1780s. In 1805, Fulton and business partner Thomas Harris Maddox laid out the town plan and named the town in Fulton's honor. The earliest deed that survives for an Alexandria resident is from June 24, 1801, when a William Cochren, who identifies himself as "Slave master of the Southern Americas", sold a tract of land across the Red River to a William Murrey.
That same year, Fulton was appointed coroner in Rapides Parish by territorial Governor William C.C. Claiborne. Alexandria was incorporated as a town in 1819 and received a city charter in 1832.
In the spring of 1863, Alexandria was occupied by Union forces under the command of Admiral David Dixon Porter and General Nathaniel P. Banks.