New Orleans History
New Orleans, LA was founded in 1718 and ruled by France and then Spain for nearly 100 years. It is the only U.S. city where French was the predominant language for more than one century. In a unique partitioning in 1835, the City of New Orleans was literally split into three separate municipalities, each with its own mayor and council. After 17 years, the city was reunited, becoming the third largest and second richest in the nation.
This city depended for 185 years on a canal system (108 miles) much more extensive than that of Venice, Italy. However by 1914, Baldwin Wood’s mammoth pumping and drainage system made canals obsolete New Orleans is often called the “Crescent City” because it was founded on the bend of the Mississippi River. This unusual shape causes locals and visitors to become confused occasionally, as there is no traditional “north, south, east, or west” mode of getting around. Some streets in the city begin at one end parallel, and end up perpendicular.
New Orleans has approximately 40,000 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, more than most other cities in the U.S. including Washington D.C. Many of these architectural treasures are located in the 120 blocks of the French Quarter.
The New Orleans Streetcar line is the oldest continuously operating rail system in the world. It currently transports locals and tourists from uptown to the business district along St. Charles Avenue. By 2003, the Streetcar will be brought back to life along Canal Street, after an absence of several decades.
New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz, and rightfully so. Early jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver got their starts in the nightclubs of Storyville, a red-light district that flourished between 1897 and 1917. The city’s musical tradition remains strong with the Neville Brothers, the Marsalis family, Harry Connick, Jr., and many others. Events such as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the French Quarter Festival, Satchmo Summer Fest and others share these gifts with the world.
The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is the only full-time, player-managed symphony in the United States. Musicians from all over the world come to New Orleans to study the LPO’s success.
New Orleans has a well-deserved reputation for food. There are more than 3000 restaurants in the city, many of which have been owned and operated by the same families for generations. The predominant foods are Creole and Cajun, but there are many ethnic restaurants that feature foods from throughout the world. The city consistently is rated one of the top cities for food by national and international publications.