First-time visitors are often struck by the European
flavor of New Orleans, and little wonder. It's everywhere! Visitors see it in
our architecture, taste it in our food, hear it in the music that abounds, and
experience it in the hospitality and characteristic accent of our locals.
Louisiana was claimed for French king Louis XIV in 1699 and is the only state
that was once a French royal colony. "La Nouvelle Orleans" 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.
New Orleans is the American city occupied longest by enemy troops (the Union
Army 1862-65) during the Civil War.
This city depended for 185 years on a canal system (108 miles) much more
extensive than that of Venice, Italy. By 1914, Baldwin Wood's mammoth pumping
and drainage system made canals obsolete.
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.
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
St. Louis Cathedral, located in the historic French Quarter, is the oldest
continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. It was
originally built in 1724 and rebuilt twice after a hurricane and a fire. The
present church overlooks beautiful Jackson Square and was dedicated in 1794.
The Old Ursuline Convent, also located in the historic French Quarter, dates to
1745, and is the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley.
As Americans settled in New Orleans, they built exquisite antebellum mansions in
the Garden District and Uptown. These architectural gems fill our residential
areas. Locals who recognize their architectural significance have restored many
of these homes in grand fashion.
Many of the tens of thousands of live oak trees that line our streets and
boulevards date back to before the Civil War. They have survived hurricanes,
droughts, insects and fires.
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 and along
Canal Street and Carollton Ave. to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
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
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
The current population of the city is around 200,000 after Katrina.