Today, Hammond is the largest city in Tangipahoa Parish. Hammond began as a settlement of Swedish immigrant Peter Hammond, however it was the coming of the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railroad that insured its existence in the coming years. The train's arrival in 1854 prompted land speculation and brought many new people to the area.
An early entrepreneur was Charles Emery Cate, who chose to settle in the area because of its good climate, natural spring water, and thick pine forests. He found the area attractive as a location for a Confederate army shoe factory, which was discovered and burned by Federal troops in 1862.
During the post-war period, Cate and other residents laid out the streets and lined them with oak trees. These trees remain today and make Hammond a distinctive, beautiful city.
Our city grew up around the junction of Thomas Street and the railroad tracks, and the downtown became a shipping center for the prosperous timber industry. In the 1890's a hardy variety of strawberries was developed, and local farmers were able to ship their strawberry crops to points all over the nation form Downtown Hammond. As the farmers and merchants began to prosper, they began to replace their downtown wooden structures with proud brick buildings. These buildings have remained in Downtown Hammond through the years, giving the city the unique flavor it has today.