| United States|
350 sq mi
Mitch Landrieu (D)
| Tulane University|
French Quarter, Audubon Zoo, The National WWII Museum, City Park, Mardi Gras World
New Orleans ( , , or French: ) is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The population of the city was 343,829 as of the 2010 U.S. Census. The New Orleans metropolitan area (New Orleans–Metairie–Kenner Metropolitan Statistical Area) had a population of 1,167,764 in 2010 and was the 46th largest in the United States. The New Orleans–Metairie–Bogalusa Combined Statistical Area, a larger trading area, had a 2010 population of 1,452,502.
The city is named after the Duke of Orleans, who reigned as Regent for Louis XV from 1715 to 1723, as it was established by French colonists and strongly influenced by their European culture. It is well known for its distinct French and Spanish Creole architecture, as well as its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage. New Orleans is also famous for its cuisine, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz), and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras, dating to French colonial times. The city is often referred to as the "most unique" in the United States.
New Orleans is located in southeastern Louisiana, straddling the Mississippi River. The city and Orleans Parish (French: ) are coterminous. The city and parish are bounded by the parishes of St. Tammany to the north, St. Bernard to the east, Plaquemines to the south, and Jefferson to the south and west. Lake Pontchartrain, part of which is included in the city limits, lies to the north and Lake Borgne lies to the east.
Before Hurricane Katrina, Orleans Parish was the most populous parish in Louisiana. It now ranks third in population, trailing neighboring Jefferson Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish.
La Nouvelle-Orleans (New Orleans) was founded May 7, 1718, by the French Mississippi Company, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, on land inhabited by the Chitimacha. It was named for Philippe dOrleans, Duke of Orleans, who was Regent of the Kingdom of France at the time. His title came from the French city of Orleans.
The French colony was ceded to the Spanish Empire in the Treaty of Paris (1763). During the American Revolutionary War, New Orleans was an important port for smuggling aid to the rebels, transporting military equipment and supplies up the Mississippi River. Bernardo de Galvez y Madrid, Count of Galvez successfully launched a southern campaign against the British from the city in 1779. New Orleans (Spanish: ) remained under Spanish control until 1801, when it reverted briefly to French oversight. Nearly all of the surviving 18th-century architecture of the Vieux Carre (French Quarter) dates from the Spanish period, the most notable exception being the Old Ursuline Convent.
Napoleon sold Louisiana (New France) to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Thereafter, the city grew rapidly with influxes of Americans, French, Creoles, and Africans. Later immigrants were Irish, Germans, and Italians. Major commodity crops of sugar and cotton were cultivated with slave labor on large plantations outside the city.
The Haitian Revolution ended in 1804 and established the second republic in the Western Hemisphere and the first republic led by black people. It had occurred over several years in what was then the French colony of Saint-Domingue. Thousands of refugees from the revolution, both whites and free people of color (affranchis or gens de couleur libres), arrived in New Orleans, often bringing African slaves with them. While Governor Claiborne and other officials wanted to keep out additional free black men, the French Creoles wanted to increase the French-speaking population. As more refugees were allowed in Louisiana, Haitian emigres who had first gone to Cuba also arrived. Many of the white Francophones had been deported by officials in Cuba in retaliation for Bonapartist schemes in Spain.
Nearly 90 percent of these immigrants settled in New Orleans. The 1809 migration brought 2,731 whites; 3,102 free persons of African descent; and 3,226 enslaved persons of African descent, doubling the citys population. The city became 63 percent black in population, a greater proportion than Charleston, South Carolinas 53 percent.
During the final campaign of the War of 1812, the British sent a force of 11,000 soldiers, marines, and sailors, in an attempt to capture New Orleans. Despite great challenges, General Andrew Jackson, with support from the U.S. Navy on the river, successfully cobbled together a motley military force of: militia from Louisiana and Mississippi, including free men of color, U.S. Army regulars, a large contingent of Tennessee state militia, Kentucky riflemen, Choctaw fighters, and local privateers (the latter led by the pirate Jean Lafitte), to decisively defeat the British troops, led by Sir Edward Pakenham, in the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. The armies had not learned that the Treaty of Ghent had officially ended the war on December 24, 1814. The fighting in Louisiana had begun in December 1814 and did not end until late January, after the Americans held off the British Navy during a ten-day siege of Fort St. Philip. (The Royal Navy went on to capture Fort Bowyer near Mobile, before the commanders received news of the peace treaty.)
As a principal port, New Orleans played a major role during the antebellum era in the Atlantic slave trade. Its port also handled huge quantities of commodities for export from the interior and imported goods from other countries, which were warehoused and transferred in New Orleans to smaller vessels and distributed the length and breadth of the vast Mississippi River watershed. The river in front of the city was filled with steamboats, flatboats, and sailing ships. Despite its role in the slave trade, New Orleans at the same time had the largest and most prosperous community of free persons of color in the nation, who were often educated and middle-class property owners.
Dwarfing in population the other cities in the antebellum South, New Orleans had the largest slave market in the domestic slave trade, which expanded after the United States ending of the international trade in 1808. Two-thirds of the more than one million slaves brought to the Deep South arrived via the forced migration of the domestic slave trade. The money generated by the sale of slaves in the Upper South has been estimated at 15 percent of the value of the staple crop economy. The slaves represented half a billion dollars in property. An ancillary economy grew up around the trade in slaves—for transportation, housing and clothing, fees, etc., estimated at 13.5 percent of the price per person. All of this amounted to tens of billions of dollars (2005 dollars, adjusted for inflation) during the antebellum period, with New Orleans as a prime beneficiary.
According to the historian Paul Lachance,
the addition of white immigrants [from Saint-Domingue] to the white creole population enabled French-speakers to remain a majority of the white population until almost 1830. If a substantial proportion of free persons of color and slaves had not also spoken French, however, the Gallic community would have become a minority of the total population as early as 1820.
After the Louisiana Purchase, numerous Anglo-Americans migrated to the city. The population of the city doubled in the 1830s and by 1840, New Orleans had become the wealthiest and the third-most populous city in the nation. Large numbers of German and Irish immigrants began arriving in the 1840s, working as laborers in the busy port. In this period, the state legislature passed more restrictions on manumissions of slaves, and virtually ended it in 1852.
In the 1850s, white Francophones remained an intact and vibrant community; they maintained instruction in French in two of the citys four school districts (all were white). In 1860, the city had 13,000 free people of color (gens de couleur libres), the class of free, mostly mixed-race people that developed during French and Spanish rule. The census recorded 81 percent as mulatto, a term used to cover all degrees of mixed race. Mostly part of the Francophone group, they constituted the artisan, educated and professional class of African Americans. Most blacks were still enslaved, working at the port, in domestic service, in crafts, and mostly on the many large, surrounding sugar cane plantations.
After growing by 45 percent in the 1850s, by 1860, the city had nearly 170,000 people The city was a destination for immigrants. It had grown in wealth, with a "per capita income [that] was second in the nation and the highest in the South." The city had a role as the "primary commercial gateway for the nations booming mid-section." The port was the third largest in the nation in terms of tonnage of imported goods, after Boston and New York, handling 659,000 tons in 1859.
As the French Creole elite feared, during the Civil War their world changed. In 1862, following the occupation by the Navy after the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, Northern forces under Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, a respected state lawyer of the Massachusetts militia, occupied the City. Later New Orleans residents nicknamed him as "Beast" Butler, because of a military order he issued. After his troops had been assaulted and harassed in the streets by Southern women, his order warned that future such occurrences would result in his men treating such "ladies" as those "plying their avocation in the streets," implying that they would treat the women like prostitutes. Accounts of this spread like wildfire across the South and the North. He also came to be called "Spoons" Butler because of the alleged looting that his troops did while occupying New Orleans.
Butler abolished French language instruction in city schools; statewide measures in 1864 and, after the war, 1868 further strengthened English-only policy imposed by federal representatives. With the predominance of English speakers in the city and state, that language had already become dominant in business and government. By the end of the 19th century, French usage in the city had faded significantly; it was also under pressure from new immigrants: English speakers such as the Irish, and other Europeans, such as the Italians and Germans. However, as late as 1902 "one-fourth of the population of the city spoke French in ordinary daily intercourse, while another two-fourths was able to understand the language perfectly," and as late as 1945, one still encountered elderly Creole women who spoke no English. The last major French language newspaper in New Orleans, L’Abeille de la Nouvelle-Orleans (New Orleans Bee), ceased publication on December 27, 1923, after ninety-six years. According to some sources, Le Courrier de la Nouvelle Orleans continued until 1955.
As the city was captured and occupied early in the war, it was spared the destruction through warfare suffered by many other cities of the American South. The Union Army eventually extended its control north along the Mississippi River and along the coastal areas of the State. As a result, most of the southern portion of Louisiana was originally exempted from the liberating provisions of the 1863 "Emancipation Proclamation" issued by President Abraham Lincoln.
Large numbers of rural ex-slaves and some free people of color from the City volunteered for the first regiments of Black troops in the War. Led by Brig. Gen. Daniel Ullman (1810-1892), of the 78th Regiment of New York State Volunteers Militia, they were known as the "Corps dAfrique." While that name had been used by a militia before the war, that group was composed of free people of color. The new group was made up mostly of former slaves. They were supplemented in the last two years of the War by newly organized United States Colored Troops, who played an increasingly important part in the war.
Violence throughout the South, especially the Memphis Riots of 1866 followed by the New Orleans Riot in July of that year, resulted in Congress passing the Reconstruction Act and the Fourteenth Amendment, to extend the protections of full citizenship to freedmen and free people of color. Louisiana and Texas were put under the authority of the "Fifth Military District" of the United States during Reconstruction. Louisiana was eventually readmitted to the Union in 1868; its Constitution of 1868 granted universal manhood suffrage and established universal public education. Both blacks and whites were elected to local and state offices. In 1872, lieutenant governor P.B.S. Pinchback, who was of mixed race, succeeded Henry Clay Warmouth for a brief period as Republican governor of Louisiana, becoming the first governor of African descent of an American state. The next African American to serve as governor was Douglas Wilder, elected in Virginia in 1989. For a time, New Orleans operated a racially integrated public school system.
Wartime damage to levees and cities along the Mississippi River adversely affected southern crops and trade for the port city for some time. The federal government contributed to restoring infrastructure, but it took time. The nationwide financial recession and Panic of 1873 also adversely affected businesses and slowed economic recovery.
From 1868, elections in Louisiana were marked by violence, as white insurgents tried to suppress black voting and disrupt Republican gatherings. Violence continued around elections. The disputed 1872 gubernatorial election resulted in conflicts that ran for years. The "White League", an insurgent paramilitary group that supported the Democratic Party, was organized in 1874 and operated in the open, violently suppressing the black vote and running off Republican officeholders. In 1874, in the Battle of Liberty Place, 5,000 members of the White League fought with city police to take over the state offices for the Democratic candidate for governor, holding them for three days. By 1876, such tactics resulted in the white Democrats, the so-called Redeemers, regaining political control of the state legislature. The federal government gave up and withdrew its troops in 1877, ending Reconstruction.
White Democrats passed Jim Crow laws, establishing racial segregation in public facilities. In 1889, the legislature passed a constitutional amendment incorporating a "grandfather clause" that effectively disfranchised freedmen as well as the propertied people of color free before the war. Unable to vote, African Americans could not serve on juries or in local office, and were closed out of formal politics for several generations in the state. It was ruled by a white Democratic Party. Public schools were racially segregated and remained so until 1960.
New Orleans large community of well-educated, often French-speaking free persons of color (gens de couleur libres), who had been free prior to the Civil War, sought to fight back against Jim Crow. They organized the Comite du Citoyens (Citizens Committee) to work for civil rights. As part of their legal campaign, they recruited one of their own, Homer Plessy, to test whether Louisianas newly enacted Separate Car Act was constitutional. Plessy boarded a commuter train departing New Orleans for Covington, Louisiana, sat in the car reserved for whites only, and was arrested. The case resulting from this incident, Plessy v. Ferguson, was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896. The court ruled that "separate but equal" accommodations were constitutional, effectively upholding Jim Crow measures. In practice, African-American public schools and facilities were underfunded in Louisiana and across the South. The Supreme Court ruling contributed to this period as the nadir of race relations in the United States. The rate of lynchings of black men was high across the South, as other states also disfranchised blacks and sought to impose Jim Crow to establish white supremacy.
Throughout New Orleans history, until the early 20th century when medical and scientific advances ameliorated the situation, the city suffered repeated epidemics of yellow fever and other tropical and infectious diseases.
New Orleans is located at 29°57?53?N 90°4?14?W (29.964722, ?90.070556) on the banks of the Mississippi River, approximately 105 miles (169 km) upriver from the Gulf of Mexico. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 350 square miles (910 km2), of which 169 square miles (440 km2) is land and 181 square miles (470 km2) (52%) is water. Orleans Parish is the smallest parish by land area in Louisiana.
The city is located in the Mississippi River Delta on the east and west banks of the Mississippi River and south of Lake Pontchartrain. The area along the river is characterized by ridges and hollows.
New Orleans was originally settled on the natural levees or high ground, along the Mississippi River. After the Flood Control Act of 1965, the US Army Corps of Engineers built floodwalls and man-made levees around a much larger geographic footprint that included previous marshland and swamp. Whether or not this human interference has caused subsidence is a topic of debate. A study by an associate professor at Tulane University claims:
On the other hand, a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers claims that "New Orleans is subsiding (sinking)":
A recent study by Tulane and Xavier University notes that 51% of New Orleans is at or above sea level, with the more densely populated areas generally on higher ground. The average elevation of the city is currently between one and two feet (0.5 m) below sea level, with some portions of the city as high as 20 feet (6 m) at the base of the river levee in Uptown and others as low as 7 feet (2 m) below sea level in the farthest reaches of Eastern New Orleans.
In 2005, storm surge from Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic failure of the federally designed and built levees, flooding 80% of the city. A report by the American Society of Civil Engineers says that "had the levees and floodwalls not failed and had the pump stations operated, nearly two-thirds of the deaths would not have occurred".
New Orleans has always had to consider the risk of hurricanes, but the risks are dramatically greater today due to coastal erosion from human interference. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it has been estimated that Louisiana has lost 2,000 square miles (5,000 km2) of coast (including many of its barrier islands), which once protected New Orleans against storm surge. Following Hurricane Katrina, the Army Corps of Engineers has instituted massive levee repair and hurricane protection measures to protect the city.
In 2006, Louisiana voters overwhelmingly adopted an amendment to the states constitution to dedicate all revenues from off-shore drilling to restore Louisianas eroding coast line. Congress has allocated $7 billion to bolster New Orleans flood protection.
According to a study by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council, levees and floodwalls surrounding New Orleans—no matter how large or sturdy—cannot provide absolute protection against overtopping or failure in extreme events. Levees and floodwalls should be viewed as a way to reduce risks from hurricanes and storm surges, not as measures that completely eliminate risk. For structures in hazardous areas and residents who do not relocate, the committee recommended major floodproofing measures—such as elevating the first floor of buildings to at least the 100-year flood level.
New Orleans has one of the largest and busiest ports in the world, and metropolitan New Orleans is a center of maritime industry. The New Orleans region also accounts for a significant portion of the nations oil refining and petrochemical production, and serves as a white-collar corporate base for onshore and offshore petroleum and natural gas production.
New Orleans has many major attractions, from the world-renowned French Quarter and Bourbon Streets notorious nightlife to St. Charles Avenue (home of Tulane and Loyola Universities, the historic Pontchartrain Hotel, and many 19th-century mansions), to Magazine Street, with its many boutique stores and antique shops.
According to current travel guides, New Orleans is one of the top ten most visited cities in the United States; 10.1 million visitors came to New Orleans in 2004, and the city was on pace to break that level of visitation in 2005. Prior to Katrina, there were 265 hotels with 38,338 rooms in the Greater New Orleans Area. In May 2007, there were over 140 hotels and motels in operation with over 31,000 rooms.
A 2009 Travel + Leisure poll of "Americas Favorite Cities" ranked New Orleans first in ten categories, the most first-place rankings of the 30 cities included. According to the poll, New Orleans is the best U.S. city as a spring break destination and for "wild weekends", stylish boutique hotels, cocktail hours, singles/bar scenes, live music/concerts and bands, antique and vintage shops, cafes/coffee bars, neighborhood restaurants, and people watching. The city also ranked second for gay friendliness (behind San Francisco, California), friendliness (behind Charleston, South Carolina), bed and bath hotels and inns, and ethnic food. However the city was voted last in terms of active residents and near the bottom in cleanliness, safety, and as a family destination.
The French Quarter (known locally as "the Quarter" or Vieux Carre), which dates from the French and Spanish eras and is bounded by the Mississippi River, Rampart Street, Canal Street, and Esplanade Avenue, contains many popular hotels, bars, and nightclubs. Notable tourist attractions in the Quarter include Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the French Market (including Cafe du Monde, famous for cafe au lait and beignets) and Preservation Hall. To tour the port, one can ride the Natchez, an authentic steamboat with a calliope, which cruises the Mississippi the length of the city twice daily. Unlike most other places in The United States, and the world, New Orleans has become widely known for its element of elegant decay. The citys many beautiful cemeteries and their distinct above-ground tombs are often attractions in themselves, the oldest and most famous of which, Saint Louis Cemetery, greatly resembles Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Also located in the French Quarter is the old New Orleans Mint, a former branch of the United States Mint, which now operates as a museum, and The Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum and research center housing art and artifacts relating to the history of New Orleans and the Gulf South. The National World War II Museum, opened in the Warehouse District in 2000 as the "National D-Day Museum", is dedicated to providing information and materials related to the Invasion of Normandy. Nearby, Confederate Memorial Hall, the oldest continually operating museum in Louisiana (although under renovation since Katrina), contains the second-largest collection of Confederate memorabilia in the world. Art museums in the city include the Contemporary Arts Center, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
New Orleans also boasts a decidedly natural side. It is home to the Audubon Nature Institute (which consists of Audubon Park, the Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium of the Americas, and the Audubon Insectarium), as well as gardens that include Longue Vue House and Gardens and the New Orleans Botanical Garden. City Park, one of the countrys most expansive and visited urban parks, has one of the largest (if not the largest) stands of oak trees in the world.
There are also various points of interest in the surrounding areas. Many wetlands are in close proximity to the city, including Honey Island Swamp. Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery, located just south of the city, is the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.
In 2009, New Orleans ranked No. 7 on Newsmax magazines list of the "Top 25 Most Uniquely American Cities and Towns," a piece written by current CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg. In determining his ranking, Greenberg cited the citys rebuilding effort post-Katrina as well as its mission to become eco-friendly.
New Orleans is world-famous for its food. The indigenous cuisine is distinctive and influential. From centuries of amalgamation of the local Creole, haute Creole, and New Orleans French cuisines, New Orleans food has developed. Local ingredients, French, Spanish, Italian, African, Native American, Cajun, Chinese, and a hint of Cuban traditions combine to produce a truly unique and easily recognizable Louisiana flavor.
New Orleans is known for specialties like beignets (locally pronounced like "ben-yays"), square-shaped fried pastries that could be called "French doughnuts" (served with cafe au lait made with a blend of coffee and chicory rather than only coffee); and Po-boy and Italian Muffuletta sandwiches; Gulf oysters on the half-shell, fried oysters, boiled crawfish, and other seafood; etouffee, jambalaya, gumbo, and other Creole dishes; and the Monday favorite of red beans and rice. (Louis Armstrong often signed his letters, "Red beans and ricely yours".) Another New Orleans specialty is the praline local /?pr??li?n/, a candy made with brown sugar, granulated sugar, cream, butter, and pecans. The city also has notable street food including the Asian inspired beef Yaka mein.