Central is in the northeast portion of East Baton Rouge Parish in the region known as Central. The city boundaries, as defined by the Amite and Comite rivers on the east and west respectively and a zone defined by Greenwell Springs Port Hudson Road to the north, encompass approximately 62 square miles of a flood-prone plain.
When European settlers arrived in the 1800s,they encountered a region of pine woods inhabited by the Amite and Choctaw Indians. The early economy consisted of cotton, sweet potatoes, and pine mills. In 1853, the Greenwell Springs Resort was built to take advantage of the renowned mineral springs. This became a popular destination for many people escaping yellow fever epidemics in cities. The 10 springs' healing and therapeutic properties were reputed to cure almost any ailment. The resort also became an entertainment source for the community and provided employment for many area residents.
During the Civil War the Greenwell Springs Resort served as a refuge from war-torn Baton Rouge, as well as a military headquarters and an infirmary. Later postwar reconstruction saw the progressive dismantling of the resort as local residents recovered the wood to rebuild their destroyed homes. By 1910, a grand new hotel and a bottling company were built, only to close their doors the following year. The 1920s saw these buildings converted into a tuberculosis hospital, and today the site houses a state psychiatric facility.
When standard Oil was built in 1909, this began a shift from a predominantly agricultural to a more industrial economy as the Central region became a suburb of Baton Rouge; traces of this legacy can be seen today.
During the 1800s, Central's children were educated in the many one-room schoolhouses scattered throughout the area. By `895, the residents joined together to build a centralized school, calling it "Central School." This same desire for quality education for the area's children would again, a century later, be the driving force to incorporate as a city. In 2005, Governor Blanco approved Central's incorporation, and in 2006, the Central Community School District was created.