The Great Southern Lumber Company mill was built here in 1906, and a community quickly grew around it. Bogalusa was incorporated as a city on July 4, 1914.
Bogalusa was the birthplace of blues piano titan Professor Longhair.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.7 km² (9.5 mi²). 24.6 km² (9.5 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.52% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 13,365 people, 5,431 households, and 3,497 families residing in the city. The population density is 543.8/km² (1,407.6/mi²). There are 6,300 housing units at an average density of 256.3/km² (663.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 57.18% White, 41.21% African American, 0.32% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 0.73% from two or more races. 0.75% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 5,431 households out of which 29.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.1% are married couples living together, 23.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% are non-families. 32.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 16.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.41 and the average family size is 3.05.
In the city the population is spread out with 27.4% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 18.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females there are 82.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 76.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $19,261, and the median income for a family is $24,947. Males have a median income of $26,716 versus $17,992 for females. The per capita income for the city is $11,476. 32.9% of the population and 26.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 45.1% are under the age of 18 and 22.0% are 65 or older.