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Founded: 1718; Incorporated: 1805
Location: Southeastern Louisiana on Lake Pontchartrain near the mouth of the Mississippi River; United States, North America
Motto: "Laissez le bon temps rouler!" ("Let the good times roll!")
Flag: White field with red (top) and blue (bottom) stripes, and three gold fleur de lys.
Flower: Magnolia (Louisiana state flower)
Time Zone: Central Standard Time (CST)
Ethnic Composition : 34.9% white, 61.9% black, 3.5% Hispanic origin, 3.2% other
Elevation: 5 ft. below sea level
Latitude and Longitude: 29°95′44N, 90°07′50W
Coastline: 40 miles
Climate: Semitropical climate. Winters are mild, and snowfall is rare; summers are hot and humid, and thunderstorms are common.
Annual Mean Temperature: 70.4°F (21.4°C)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: . 20 in. (50 mm); Average annual precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow) : 62.08 in. (1,580 mm)
Weights and Measures: Standard US
Monetary Units: Standard US
Telephone Area Codes: 504
Postal Codes: 70053, 70056, 70112–70119, 70122, 70124–70131
The cosmopolitan city of New Orleans is located on Lake Pontchartrain near the mouth of the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana. A beguiling combination of old and new, New Orleans has been dubbed "America's Most Interesting City." For most of its history, New Orleans' status as a major port city has made it a bustling center of commerce and industry. Economic opportunity attracted hundreds of thousands of early settlers, resulting in today's ethnically diverse population of Creoles, Cajuns and those of Italian, African and Caribbean descent. While the New Orleans metro area today remains an important commercial and industrial hub, it is arguably most famous as a tourist destination. In the early nineteenth century, the American Sector was located just upriver of the original French colony, founded in 1718. Today, visitors come from around the globe to experience the old-world charm of the carefully preserved French Quarter, also called the Vieux Carre (Old Square). Travelers come to dine in its fine restaurants, listen to incomparable jazz, and browse in Royal Street's fine antique shops. Home to the world-famous annual Mardi Gras celebration, New Orleans lives by its motto: "laissez le bon temps rouler!" ("Let the good times roll!")
New Orleans is situated on the Mississippi River, 177 kilometers (110 miles) northwest of its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Pontchartrain borders the city to the north. Most of New Orleans lies between Lake Pontchartrain and the east bank of the Mississippi, which follows a crescent-shaped bend, giving New Orleans the nickname the Crescent City.
Surrounding communities include Covington, Grenta, Harahan, Kenner, Metairie, Slidell, and Westwego. Major cities within 161 kilometers (100 miles) include Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama.
Four major north-south highways serve the New Orleans area: Interstate 55 runs from New Orleans to Chicago, Illinois; U.S. Highway 61 runs from New Orleans to Memphis, Tennessee; U.S. Highway 11; and State Highway 23. The two main east-west routes are Interstate 10, which runs from Jacksonville, Florida, to Los Angeles, California; and U.S. Highway 90, which connects the city with Lafayette to the west and Mobile, Alabama, to the east.
Bus and Railroad Service
Buslines serving New Orleans include Baptiste, Canary's Transportation, Loews Express, Louisiana Transit, and Greyhound. The main bus terminal is the Greyhound/Trailways Bus Station at 1001 Loyola Avenue. Amtrak passenger trains arrive and depart from the Amtrak Station, also located at 1001 Loyola Avenue. New Orleans is connected via rail to California, Chicago, Florida, New York, and points in between.
New Orleans Population Profile
Area: 468 sq km (180.6 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 34.9% white; 61.9% black; 3.5% Hispanic origin; 3.2% other
Nicknames: America's Most Interesting City; The Crescent City; The Big Easy
Area: 941 sq km (363.5 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 341
Percentage of national population 2: 0.4%
Average yearly growth rate: 0.4%
- The New Orleans metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
- The percent of the United States' total population living in the New Orleans metropolitan area.
Major domestic airlines running flights to and from New Orleans International Airport include American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, TWA, United, and US Airways. Many international airlines also fly directly into the airport, which is 23 kilometers (14 miles) northwest of downtown New Orleans (approximately 20 minutes). Locals sometimes still call it Moissant Field, its former name.
In the world of trade, New Orleans is known as one of the busiest and most efficient international ports in the country, handling 14 million tons of cargo annually. More than 100 steamship lines dock there, and as many as 52 vessels can be berthed at one time.
In the early nineteenth century, the city of New Orleans was divided: Americans settled upriver of the original French colony. Today, Canal Street acts as the official dividing line between the historic French Quarter and the rest of the city. Street names actually change as one crosses Canal Street from the French Quarter: Bourbon becomes Carondelet; Royal becomes St. Charles; and so on. Directions in New Orleans are described with respect to the waters, which weave around the city: lakeside means toward Lake Pontchartrain; riverside means toward the Mississippi River; upriver refers to Uptown; and downriver refers to Downtown.
The French Quarter welcomes bikers, with Royal and Bourbon streets closing off during the day to all traffic but cyclists and pedestrians. City Park and Audubon Park are also bicycle-friendly locations.
In a 25-minute round trip, the Canal Street Ferry travels across the Mississippi between the Canal Street Wharf and Algiers Ferry Landing. The ride is free to pedestrians; motorists pay one dollar for return to the wharf. The ferry runs daily from 5:30 am to 9:30 PM.
Bus and Commuter Rail Service
The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) operates buses, shuttles, and streetcars throughout the New Orleans area. Buses require one dollar exact change or a token (sold only in banks). Transfers are ten cents extra. The Vieux Carre shuttle runs weekdays from 5:00 am to 7:30 pm. Visitor passes allow unlimited travel on buses and streetcars. One-day passes are issued for four dollars; three-day passes may be purchased for eight dollars. The Riverfront Streetcar operates along the river between Esplanade Avenue and the Robin Street Wharf. It makes five stops above Canal Street and five stops below. The streetcar runs from 6:00 am to midnight on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to midnight on weekends. The fare is one dollar and 25 cents.
Walking tours are one of the most popular ways to see New Orleans. A walk through the historic French Quarter offers access to various jazz clubs, museums, antique shops, and galleries. A stroll through the Garden District offers a view of the elegant mansions, known for their extravagant gardens, built by the Americans who settled in New Orleans after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. A walking tour through the foot of Canal Street in the Central Business District offers shopping mall stops, as well as visits to the World Trade Center and the Aquarium of the Americas.
Sightseeing tours by steamboat and streetcar are also popular. The New Orleans Steamboat Company runs the two-hour Natchez harbor cruise for a fare of $14.75 at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm daily. It also runs a two-hour evening jazz cruise from 7:00 to 9:00 pm daily. The evening cruise fare is $22.50, $42.50 with dinner. A smaller boat, the John James Audubon, runs between the Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Zoo. The Audubon cruise leaves daily at 10:00 AM, noon, 2:00, and 4:00 pm from the aquarium; and 11:00 AM, 1:00, 3:00 and 5:00 pm from the zoo. Round-trip fare is $13.50.
|City Fact Comparison|
|Population of urban area1||1,072,000||10,772,000||2,688,000||12,033,000|
|Date the city was founded||1718||AD 969||753 BC||723 BC|
|Daily costs to visit the city2|
|Hotel (single occupancy)||$88||$193||$172||$129|
|Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)||$40||$56||$59||$62|
|Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)||$2||$14||$15||$16|
|Total daily costs||$130||$173||$246||$207|
|Number of newspapers serving the city||1||13||20||11|
|Largest newspaper||Times-Picayune||Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar||La Repubblica||Renmin Ribao|
|Circulation of largest newspaper||259,317||1,159,339||754,930||3,000,000|
|Date largest newspaper was established||1837||1944||1976||1948|
|1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.|
|2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.|
|3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.|
The St. Charles Streetcar offers a 90-minute, 13-mile sightseeing opportunity. An official historic landmark, the streetcar travels up St. Charles Avenue, through the Garden District, past the Audubon Park and Zoo, as well as other popular Uptown sights. For a one-dollar fare, the streetcar boards in the Central Business District at Canal and Carondelet Streets. It runs daily every five minutes from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm ; every 15 to 20 minutes from 6:00 pm to midnight; and every hour from midnight to 7:00 AM.
In 1990, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated a year-2000 population of 487,780 for the city of New Orleans. However, by 1999 the population count exceeded 496,000 people. The census also listed the racial/ethnic breakdown as 34.9 percent white, 61.9 percent black, 3.5 percent Hispanic origin, and 3.2 percent other. However, in a city as cosmopolitan as New Orleans, there is a lot more to racial/ethnic heritage than can be revealed by a statistical breakdown. Today's population is a colorful amalgamation of Creole, Cajun, Caribbean, African, and Italian descent. However, the Creole and Cajun cultures are probably those most distinctive of New Orleans.
One very important thing to understand is that while both groups are French in descent, Creoles are not Cajuns, and Cajuns are not Creoles. By strict definition, a Creole is a descendant of an early French or Spanish settler, born in the colony, not in Europe. From the beginning, Creoles were strictly city dwellers. They called themselves "French," spoke French, and considered themselves the true natives. As a result of their stubborn insistence on French language, culture, and customs (and consequent inability to adapt to anything American), they were economically overrun by "Les Americaines" after the Louisiana Purchase. However, the Creole legacy lives on in New Orleans culture in many ways—its food, its music, and the French Quarter.
Cajuns, on the other hand, are descendants of rustic, country dwellers who lived along the bayous amid the swamps. They were manual laborers who celebrated as hard as they worked. Happily isolated, they were devoutly Catholic and spoke their own provincial version of French, dating back to their ancestral home in Brittany and Normandy. The word Cajun is actually a corruption of the word "Acadian." The Cajuns' ancestors were actually exiled from New Acadia (today known as Nova Scotia) by the British in 1755. In one of the nation's largest mass migrations, more than 10,000 made their new home in Louisiana. Today, there are nearly one million people of Cajun descent. Those once isolated and ridiculed have acquired a kind of nouveau chic status as Cajun restaurants, music, artwork, and folklore have become all the cultural rage.
Major neighborhoods and other well-known parts of the city include the French Quarter, the Central Business District, the Garden District, the University Section, Mid-City, and Lakeshore Drive. Surrounding communities include Covington, Grenta, Harahan, Kenner, Metairie, Slidell, and Westwego.
The French Quarter
Also called Vieux Carre (Old Square), the French Quarter is the original colony, founded by French Creoles in 1718. The carefully preserved historic district is delineated by Canal Street, Esplanade Avenue, North Rampart Street, and the Mississippi River.
The neighborhood is characterized by two-and three-story buildings of old brick and pastel-painted stucco. An eclectic crowd passes beneath hanging plants that dangle from the eaves of buildings. Home to some 7,000 residents, most houses date from the early to mid-nineteenth century and are fronted by secluded courtyards.
Although the district encompasses only about two-and-a-half kilometers (one square mile), it is packed full of must-see locations. Other than world-renowned French Creole restaurants, jazz clubs, and antique shops, the district is home to St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square, the Cabildo, Washington Artillery Park, the Old U.S. Mint, the Beauregard-Keyes House, the Gallier House, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, the nineteenth-century LaBranche Houses, First Skyscraper, Preservation Hall, the Historic New Orleans Collection, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, Napoleon House, Hermann-Grima House, the Musee Conti Wax Museum, and the Old Ursuline Convent, which is the only remaining original French colonial structure today.
Downriver of the French Quarter are the suburbs of Marigny, Bywater, Treme—famous for Congo Square and Basin Street—Arabi, and Chalmette, where the Battle of New Orleans was fought in 1815. Algiers is a very old residential section on the city's west bank, across the Mississippi from the Quarter and the foot of Canal Street.
The Central Business District
The heart of America's second-largest port, as well as the main parade route during Mardi Gras, the Central Business District cuts a wide path between Uptown and Downtown, Canal Street being the official dividing line. Defined by Canal Street, the river, Howard Avenue, and Loyola Avenue, the Central Business District is home to the city's newest convention hotels, shopping malls, and department stores, international trade agencies and consulates, monuments, and the Superdome. Points of particular interest include the World Trade Center, the Aquarium of the Americas, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, and the Spanish Plaza.
The Garden District
One of the nation's most picturesque neighborhoods, the Garden District is defined by St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Avenue, Jackson Avenue, and Magazine Street. It was settled by Americans who rushed to New Orleans after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase but remained upriver of the already-established French Quarter. Countering the Creole penchant for secluded courtyards, they built elegant homes surrounded by lavish gardens; however, many of the district's most stunning mansions were built during the city's "golden age," from 1830 until the Civil War.
Today, the grand mansions are private homes and closed to the public, but they are worth seeing from the outside. Sites of particular interest include Colonel Short's Villa, the Robinson House, and the home of novelist Anne Rice.
Beyond the Garden District lies the University Section, home of Loyola University and Tulane University, Audubon Park and Audubon Zoo, one of the nation's top five zoos, and the Carrollton and Broadmoor residential sections. Riverbend is both a residential and shopping area that is situated in an uptown bend in the Mississippi.
Located between downtown and Lake Pontchartrain, Mid-City is predominantly a residential area. It is also home to one of the nation's largest urban parks. City Park encompasses 607 hectares (1,500 acres) and contains the New Orleans Museum of Art, boating and fishing lagoons, golf and tennis courts, botanical gardens, a playground and amusement park with an antique carousel, and the world-renowned Live Oak trees. Also in Mid-City is the Fair Grounds Race Course, host to thoroughbred racing and the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival.
As is suggested by its name, Lakeshore Drive follows the south bank of Lake Pontchartrain. On the east end is Lakefront Airport, and on the west is West End Park, known for its fine seafood restaurants. The area is a popular picnic, fishing, sailing, and sunning spot. It is also host to the Mardi Gras Fountain, which is surrounded by plaques bearing various Carnival krewe emblems.
The region today called New Orleans was first visited by Europeans in 1541 when a Spanish exploration party led by Hernando de Soto discovered the Mississippi River. It was the French, however, who claimed the Mississippi River Territory when explorer Robert Cavalier de la Salle visited the area in 1682. At the turn of the eighteenth century, French brothers Pierre le Moyne d'Iberville and Jean Baptiste le Moyne de Bienville established a colony in southeastern "Louisiane" when they arrived with 200 settlers. Dubbed La Nouvelle Orleans, the colony was named in honor of Phillippe, duc d'Orleans, the Regent of France. In 1763, the Spanish overtook control of the Louisiana Territory and ruled until 1801 when Napoleon regained it for France. Just two years later, in 1803, Napoleon sold the land to the United States in a deal known historically as the Louisiana Purchase.
New Orleans grew tremendously in the nineteenth century. It was incorporated as a city in 1805. The College of Orleans, the first institution of higher learning in Louisiana, opened in the city in 1811. The following year the first steamboat began operating between New Orleans and Natchez. The War of 1812 actually ended in New Orleans when, on January 8, 1815, General Sir Edward Pakenham attacked the city with a British force and was defeated by U.S. General Andrew Jackson at Chalmette Plantation, now a National Historical Park. Louisiana was admitted to the Union on April 30, 1812, with New Orleans as the state capital. It remained so until 1849, except for a brief period between 1830 and 1831.
The city's location near the mouth of the Mississippi River made it an excellent locale for trade with cotton and sugarcane as the primary commodities. Hundreds of thousands of people were drawn by economic opportunity, and New Orleans' population skyrocketed to 166,375 by the 1850s. New Orleans had become the third-largest city in the United States.
An important Confederate port, New Orleans was captured by Union troops early in the Civil War and held under military rule for the duration. The Civil War led to a period of economic decline, and it was not until 1880 that port tonages were comparable with those of the late 1850s. Recovery was due largely to government construction of the Eads jetties (walls built out into the water to restrain currents and protect a harbor or pier) at the mouth of the Mississippi in 1879, greatly improving access to the Port of New Orleans.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Louisiana established the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans, and modernization of the port was underway. In 1917, a screw-type electric pump made substantial swamp drainage possible, and formerly uninhabitable land became habitable. By the 1930s, all of the swamp areas were as effectively drained as the higher sites.
In addition to swamp problems, fires, hurricanes, and yellow fever epidemics have taken their toll on the city, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, New Orleans' ongoing battle with nature has been made easier by twentieth century technology, and the city has experienced continuous growth since 1900.
In the second half of the twentieth century, establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space-flight facility and further expansion of port facilities contributed to New Orleans' accelerated growth rate. In 1984, New Orleans' Mississippi River waterfront even hosted the Louisiana World Exposition.
In the 1990s, the Port of New Orleans remained among the busiest in the country. Rich in heritage and culture, the population continues to be extremely diverse, consisting of Creoles (descendants of the original French and Spanish colonists), Cajuns (descendants of the Acadians who were driven from Nova Scotia by the British in 1755), and other groups whose ancestry lies in Italy, Africa, and the Caribbean islands. New Orleans is also a major tourist destination, famous for its historic French Quarter and annual Mardi Gras celebration. With a population of more than 496,000 people at the outset of the twenty-first century, New Orleans is Louisiana's largest city.
The New Orleans city government operates under the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans, as amended January 1, 1996. This charter calls for a mayor-council form of government, wherein the mayor is to be aided by a chief administrative officer who is responsible to the mayor in the performance of duties. The council is to consist of seven members, five of whom are to be elected from districts and two from the city at large. The mayor and council members are all elected to four-year terms.
As the New Orleans City Council conducted hearings for the 2000 Millenium Budget, the recommended operating budget of $507,304,152 proposed to continue the city's commitment to improving public safety. Highlights of the budget included the provision of funding to bring the New Orleans Police Department to a full force of 1,700 officers and the provision for continuation of the city's five-year Rebuild New Orleans Now! capital initiative to repair streets, parks, and public buildings.
Overall, the New Orleans Police Department has reported a steady drop in the number of violent crimes. The most notable is the 23 percent reduction of violent crime citywide for the first six months of 1997 compared to the first six months of 1996. The comparison of non-violent crimes for the same periods also shows a decrease by 11 percent.
In 1997, the total crime index stood at 53,399. Violent crimes reported to police (per 100,000 population) included 363 murders, 487 rapes, 5,349 robberies, and 4,677 aggravated assaults. Property crimes included 10,236 burglaries and 2,044 motor vehicle thefts.
Since its founding in 1718, New Orleans' status as a port city has been a major factor in its economic development. Its location near the mouth of the Mississippi River enabled the city to grow as an important center for trade. In the nineteenth century, primary commodities included cotton and sugarcane. During the Civil War, the port served as a vital military post. However, the region experienced economic decline as New Orleans, originally part of the Confederacy, was captured by Union troops early in the war. The city recovered its prosperous economic status by the early 1900s.
In the twenty-first century, the New Orleans metro area remains an important commercial and industrial hub. In the world of trade, it is known as one of the busiest and most efficient international ports in the country. Not only does the Port of New Orleans play a vital role in the region's economy, but in Louisiana's economy as a whole: ten percent of the state's entire workforce is employed in port-related activities.
Despite a decline during the 1980s, the oil and gas industry also remains an important part of the city's economic base. Major U.S. petroleum companies located in New Orleans include Shell, Exxon, Mobil, and British Petroleum (BP).
The economy has diversified significantly since the 1980s, and service industries currently make up the largest employment sector in the region. Tourism and health care are among the city's fastest-growing industries.
Other major boosters of the New Orleans' economy range from higher education to aerospace to finance. Both Tulane and Loyola Universities are major employers. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) maintains an assembly facility in the city. Major companies headquartered in the New Orleans' area include Hibernia Corp; Lockheed Martin Michoud Space Systems; Schwegmann Giant Super Markets; and Union Carbide Corp.
As of June 1999, the New Orleans labor force numbered 624,200, and unemployment stood at 4.6 percent.
New Orleans may be a thriving metropolis, but it was once written off as nothing more than an alligator and mosquito-infested swamp. The maze of river, bayous, lakes, and swamps made land access and travel difficult. The semitropical climate provided the perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes, and diseases, such as yellow fever and malaria, ran rampant. In its earliest days the area was actually referred to as the Isle of Orleans.
Today, New Orleans is defined by the very bodies of water that once made habitation so unlikely. Its nickname—the Crescent City—actually refers to the shape of the land that has been molded by the Mississippi River. The river winds through the city and rushes out into the Gulf of Mexico, which lies 177 kilometers (110 miles) to the south. To the north of the city lies Lake Pontchartrain, actually a coastal lagoon, 40 kilometers (25 miles) wide and 64 kilometers (40 miles) long with a total area of more than 1,606 square kilometers (620 square miles).
The Greater New Orleans area covers about 941 square kilometers (363.5 square miles), but only 514 (198.4) are somewhat dry land. This is because, at five feet below sea level, New Orleans is the lowest point in the state of Louisiana.
Shopping in New Orleans winds along the Mississippi River, all the way from the French Quarter to Uptown beyond Riverbend.
The French Quarter is the place to hunt for antiques. There shoppers will also find art galleries, designer boutiques, bookstores, and an array of unique shops. Along Canal Place, located on Canal Street, shoppers can admire the finery of jewelry designer Mignon Faget and browse in the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Laura Ashley, Gucci, and Brooks Brothers. Riverwalk, located at 1 Poydras Street, is a long marketplace boasting more than 200 shops, restaurants, food courts, and huge windows overlooking the Mississippi. New Orleans Centre, between the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the Superdome on Poydras Street, has more than 100 vendors, including Macy's and Lord & Taylor. For six miles along Magazine Street, Victorian houses and small cottages filled with antiques and collectibles welcome shoppers. Riverbend, located at Maple Street and Carrollton Avenue is comprised of turn-of-the-century Creole cottages that host toy shops, designer boutiques, delis, and more. Metairie's three-level Esplanade Mall at West Esplanade Avenue houses 155 shops, including Macy's and Mervyn's. Finally, the Warehouse District, bordered by Girod Street, Howard Avenue, Camp Street, and the river, is a major center for the visual arts, Julia Street being particularly noteworthy.
Shopper's guides are published by the Magazine Street Merchants Association and the Royal Street Guild; shopping information can also be found at the New Orleans Welcome Center.
Most education in the state of Louisiana was provided through private schools until Reconstruction. In fact, New Orleans' Creole population often sent their children to be educated abroad in France. It was not until Huey Long's administration, when spending for education increased significantly and free textbooks were supplied, that education became a high priority for the state.
Desegregation of Louisiana schools actually started in New Orleans. Integration of New Orleans public schools began in 1960; two years later, the archbishop of New Orleans required that all Catholic schools under his jurisdiction be desegregated.
In 1996, the parish was ranked as the thirty-third-largest school district in the nation with an enrollment of 85,064 students.
In 1999, there were 274 public and 135 private elementary schools, 53 public and 29 private high schools in New Orleans. There were also three public and five private four-year universities, two community colleges, two medical schools, two law schools, and two theological seminaries. Among the post-secondary institutions, the most well-known include Loyola University of Louisiana and Tulane University, two of the most distinguished private universities in the South, Dillard University, the University of New Orleans, and Southern University of New Orleans.
13. Health Care
A few of the many medical care facilities in New Orleans include Mercy Baptiste Medical Center, Ochsner Foundation Hospital, Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital, Saint Charles General Hospital, Touro Infirmary, Tulane University Medical Center, and University Hospital of Medical Center of Louisiana. According to 1997 reports, there were 23 hospitals and 2,368 physicians in New Orleans. The citizen to physician ratio for the county was 203 to one.
New Orleans has two major television stations: WYES-TV; and WWL-TV, Channel 4. WYES-TV boasts chip beta cams, an eight-camera mobile unit, and editing studio facilities. Clients include HBO, ESPN, MTV, and Bob Hope. WWL-TV, Channel 4 is a legendary CBS affiliate that boasts a strong "Eyewitness News" franchise, double-digit ratings, and network-quality production.
Major newspapers include the Times-Picayune and USA Today, the number-one newspaper in the nation.
Magazines include Ambassador's, Inc., a high quality restaurant guide; New Orleans Magazine, consumer-life-style reading dedicated to the upscale local, business, and visitor markets; Where Magazine ; and Where Y'at Magazine, the city's free guide to complete restaurant, club, and bar listings and timely articles about local and national entertainment news .
The same qualities that make New Orleans an optimal convention and festival town also make it a great sports town. An accessible downtown area and a plethora of attractions and hotel accommodations have qualified the Crescent City as host to world-class sporting events on numerous occasions. It has been an eight-time Super Bowl host; three-time NCAA Men's Final Four Championships host; NCAA Women's Final Four Championships host; 1992 Olympic Track and Field host; SEC Basketball Tournament host; and AAU Junior Olympics host.
For football fans, New Orleans hosts the annual Nokia Sugar Bowl, as well as the National Football League's Saints team. The Sugar Bowl college football classic, held in January, is sponsored by a non-profit civic group that sponsors seven other amateur sporting events throughout the year. As for the New Orleans Saints, home games are played in the Louisiana Superdome from August through December.
The Crescent City is also home to the 1998 Triple-A World Series Champion New Orleans Zephyrs. The baseball team is the top affiliate of the Houston Astros and plays 71 home games from April through September at their state-of-the-art facility on Airline Drive.
For golf enthusiasts, the Freeport-McDermott Golf Classic is held in late March-early April. The Classic Foundation also hosts the annual PGA Tour golf tournament at English Turn to benefit youth charities.
The New Orleans Brass represents the city in the world of hockey, and horse racing takes place at the New Orleans Fair Grounds.
New Orleans may be a thriving metropolis, but its parks are nothing short of urban oases.
Woldenberg Riverfront Park encompasses 5.3 hectares (13 acres) of landscaped territory, featuring more than 300 oak trees, magnolias, willows, and crepe myrtles, a large lawn and a brick walkway offering direct access to the Mississippi River.
City Park, located on City Park Avenue, spans 607 hectares (1,500 acres) and features moss-draped oaks, lagoons, hiking-biking trails, picnic grounds, golf courses, tennis courts, luxuriant botanical gardens, and an amusement park featuring a late nineteenth-century carousel.
Audubon Park, located on St. Charles Avenue, offers golf and tennis, a 2.9-kilometer (1.8-mile) jogging path shaded by giant oak trees, and 18 exercise stations.
The Audubon Zoo, located on Magazine Street behind Audubon Park, is ranked among the top five zoos in the nation. It is noted for its famed white tiger, white alligators, the Louisiana Swamp exhibit, and the World of Primates.
Aquarium of the Americas, located at the foot of Canal Street, is the place to visit for a close view of sea life. Visitors can explore the aquatic world of the Caribbean, Amazon Rainforest, Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi Delta.
For fishing enthusiasts, the bayous and inlets off the Mississippi River are rich with redfish, trout, and bass; lemon fish, tuna, and red snapper can be found around the oil rigs a few miles offshore. A license issued by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is required for any outing and is available from most sporting goods stores and marinas.
Game around Louisiana includes a wide variety from deer and water fowl to rabbit and alligator. Hunting permits are available from most expedition outfits.
As the New Orleans City Council conducted hearings for the 2000 Millenium Budget, the recommended operating budget of $507,304,152 proposed to continue the city's commitment to youth development and improving the parks. The proposed budget recommended increasing funding to the New Orleans Recreation Department to nine million dollars to include summer and teen camps, public pools, and after-school recreational programs.
17. Performing Arts
World-renowned for its jazz history, New Orleans swings with live performances around the clock. Traditional jazz can be found at Preservation Hall and Palm Court Jazz Café. Snug Harbor and Pete Fountain's Club are also popular spots. Free jazz concerts are held on weekends during the day in Dutch Alley.
For those with a more classical taste in music, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra performs at the Orpheum Theatre.
In the realm of dance and opera, the New Orleans Ballet Association and the New Orleans Opera Association produce performances of visiting companies at the New Orleans Theatre for the Performing Arts in Armstrong Park.
In dramatic theater, the Contemporary Arts Center hosts the avantgarde, offbeat, and satirical. Classics, contemporary drama, children's theater, and musicals are presented at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre. Touring Broadway shows, dance companies, and top-name talent appear at the Saenger Performing Arts Center.
New Orleans boasts a total of 65 public libraries and three institutional libraries. The official New Orleans Public Library, with 11 branches and 1,003,274 books, features a special collection on jazz and folk music. The Tulane University Library, with 1,470,549 books, has special collections on jazz and Louisiana history. The libraries at Tulane University and Xavier University of Louisiana each carry a special black-studies collection.
New Orleans also hosts a staggering number of museums with collections ranging from art to history to novelty. Leading art museums include the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Lampe Gallery. As for historical museums, the Louisiana State Museum, an eight-building historic complex in the French Quarter, is the oldest and largest museum in the state of Louisiana. There is also the Confederate Museum, the American Italian Renaissance Museum, BAND—Black Arts National Diaspora, Inc., Gallier House Museum, Hermann-Grima Historic House, the Historic New Orleans Collection, the House of Broel's Historic Mansion and Dollhouse Museum, Longue Vue House and Gardens, Pitot House Museum, and St. Alphonsus Art and Culture Museum. Novelty museums include Louisiana Children's Museum, Musee Conti—the Wax Museum, New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, the Audubon Living Science Museum, and the six museums of the Rivertown Museums, including Jefferson Parish Mardi Gras Museum and the Saints Hall of Fame.
New Orleans has a reputation as a good-time town. With a motto like "Laissez le bon temps rouler!" ("Let the good times roll!"), it is no wonder that the September 1997 Conde Nast Traveler ranked the Big Easy as the second most popular tourist destination in the United States. The New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau reported between 11 and 14 million visitors and $3.358 billion in expenditures attributed to tourism for 1997.
Chinese New Year Festival
Nokia-Sugar Bowl Mardi Gras Marathon
African Heritage Festival International
Louisiana Black Heritage Festival
Mensaje's Spanish Festival
New Orleans Literary Festival
St. Patrick's Day Parade
Crescent City Classic
French Quarter Festival
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Great French Market Tomato Festival
Reggae Riddums Festival
Go 4th on the River
New Orleans Film and Video Festival
Bayou Classic Football Game
New Orleans Christmas
New Year's Eve Countdown
21. Famous Citizens
Well-known New Orleans natives include:
Louis Armstrong (c. 1898–1971), world-renowned jazz musician.
George Washington Cable (1844–1925), author.
Truman Capote (1924–84), author whose works include In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Harry Connick, Jr. (b. 1967), Grammy-winning jazz musician.
Antoine "Fats" Domino (b. 1928), one of the founding fathers of rhythm and blues.
Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829–69), celebrated nineteenth-century pianist.
Lillian Hellman (1907–84), noted author whose works include Julia and The Little Foxes.
George Herriman (1880–1944), cartoonist, best known for Krazy Kat.
Mahalia Jackson (1911–1972), one of the world's greatest gospel singers.
Branford Marsalis (b. 1960), jazz saxophonist, once leader of the Tonight Show band.
Wynton Marsalis (b. 1961), Grammy-winning jazz and classical trumpeter.
Paul Morphy (1837–84), father of modern chess.
Jelly Roll Morton (1890–1941), famous jazz pianist.
Joseph "King" Oliver (1885–1938), cornetist, bandleader, and principal mentor of Louis Armstrong.
Mel Ott (1908–1958), 1930s major league baseball star credited with more than 511 major-league home runs.
Anne Rice (b. 1941), author of best-selling novels featuring vampires.
Chamber/New Orleans and the River Region. [Online] Available http://www.gnofn.org/chamber (accessed November 19, 1999).
Greater New Orleans Free-Net. [Online] Available http://www.gnofn.org (accessed November 19, 1999).
New Orleans City Government. [Online] Available http://www.tulane.edu/~uccr/gov.html (accessed November 19, 1999).
New Orleans Times and Directory. [Online] Available http://www.gna.com (accessed November 19, 1999).
Neworleans.com. [Online] Available http://www.neworleans.com (accessed November 19, 1999).
New Orleans City Hall
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Natives' Guide to New Orleans
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Where Y'at Magazine
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Chappell, Susan. The Opryland Insider's Guide to Nashville. New York: Ballantine, 2000.
Deegan, Paul. Nashville, Tennessee. New York: Crestwood, 1989.
Jackson, Joy. New Orleans in the Gilded Age: Politics and Urban Progress, 1880–96. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969.
Lovett, Bobby L. The African American History of Nashville, Tennessee 1780–1930. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1999.
In the spring of 1862, only a year after Louisiana had seceded, the Union commodore David Farragut pushed his fleet up the Mississippi to New Orleans. As he approached, bonfires set by retreating Confederates blazed along the levee. In short order, the Union major general Benjamin Butler landed troops on the wharves and occupied New Orleans. That moment captured in tableau three nascent writers: George Washington Cable stood at a shop door watching in dismay as Union troops spilled into the city. Captain John William De Forest marched his Union company toward Lafayette Square amid the jeers of townsfolk. Ten-year-old Grace King, peering down from her room high above Camp Street, saw the approaching troops and feared they would massacre her family.
These writers would later respond in very different ways to the Civil War and its aftermath in New Orleans, a period in which the fortunes and politics of the city were dramatically altered. Once the wealthiest city in the South, New Orleans forfeited access to its markets in the upper Mississippi Valley, in the Northeast, and in other nations. It was occupied for almost a year by "Beast" Butler, so called because he treated New Orleanians like a subjugated people and because he issued the infamous "woman order" stating that any woman who reviled federal troops would be dealt with like a prostitute.
As federal troops moved through outlying plantation country, many thousands of former slaves left their former owners and fled to "contraband camps," one of them in New Orleans. African American soldiers, who were recruited—and sometimes impressed—by the Union army, fought in many major Louisiana battles.
Federal military Reconstruction officially began in 1867, in part as a Northern reaction to "Black Codes" adopted by Southern legislatures to effectively return freedmen to slavery and in part as a response to the New Orleans riot of 30 July 1866, in which dozens of black Unionists were killed by police. The Reconstruction Acts disenfranchised any man who had voluntarily aided the Confederacy; the acts thus nominally and briefly increased African American political power in Louisiana. White racists seethed under a Republican state administration propped up by the federal government. This tension reached a pitch in 1874, when armed insurgents calling themselves the White League defeated metropolitan police and black militiamen in the streets of New Orleans. President Ulysses S. Grant sent federal troops into the city to restore the Republican government.
In 1876 a bizarre political compromise with the federal government allowed Louisiana Democrats to elect a Confederate war hero governor. The next year, federal troops left New Orleans, and Reconstruction, an abysmal failure in Louisiana, came to an end. In the wake of Reconstruction, African Americans quickly lost what little ground they had gained and under Bourbon reactionaries and their successors suffered degrading political and social conditions as racism silenced even the old paternalist voices.
Though still a major port, New Orleans remained a poor city. Its cultural makeup had been changing rapidly after the initial waves of "Americans" following the Louisiana Purchase in the early nineteenth century had begun to threaten Creole dominance. In the 1850s and 1860s, the city was flooded with Irish and German immigrants; by 1910, Italians made up about 30 percent of the population. White Creole wealth and influence gradually declined.
George Washington Cable (1844–1925) was born in New Orleans to parents from the Northeast. In a Catholic city, he was reared a Presbyterian. When his widowed mother refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the Union and fled the city during Butler's occupation, Cable joined the Confederate army and was twice wounded. After the war, he adopted liberal views on race, which he expressed in both fiction and nonfiction and which made him, by one account, "the most hated little man in New Orleans." In the 1880s, Cable moved to New England.
Cable's major fiction includes a story collection, Old Creole Days (1879), and his masterpiece, The Grandissimes (1880). Set in 1803–1804, when the Americans assumed power in New Orleans, The Grandissimes imports an American outsider, Joseph Frowenfeld, as a liberal commentator on white Creole pride and prejudice. Drawn into the alien world of Creole caste, Frowenfeld discovers a friend in the white Creole protagonist, Honoré Grandissime, whose wealthy and educated brother of the same name bears the ignominious suffix "f.m.c."—free man of color. The novel is both a traditional romance, in which the white Honoré courts and wins the white Creole Aurore Nancanou, and a realist indictment of the Creole caste system, in which the patriarch Agricole Fusilier reigns as the ignorant and proud embodiment of white Creole aristocracy—dueling, scheming, and oppressing the "niggahs"—while African slaves and mixed-race Creoles are shunned, mutilated, or murdered. Honoré f.m.c., the white Honoré's doppelgänger, gives his fortune to rescue his brother's finances and takes his own life. William Dean Howells (1837–1920) remarked that the novel's "blend of romance and reality . . . does no wrong to either component" (Turner, p. 99). Contemporary southern readers could not have missed parallels between the 1803 American takeover of Creole New Orleans and the recent Union occupation of the city. Cable's denunciation of racial prejudice, though temporally displaced, struck a Bourbon nerve. His depiction of white Creoles likewise offended a litterateur of their number, Adrien Rouquette, who lambasted Cable's critique in A Critical Dialogue between Aboo and Caboo (1880).
In 1885 Grace King (1852–1932), a New Orleans native but a Protestant of Alsatian descent, launched her literary career the night after a northern editor, Richard Watson Gilder, asked her why New Orleanians who, like herself, hated George Washington Cable so much, did not "write better." She took up the gauntlet, wrote the first of her stories, "Monsieur Motte," sold it to Princeton Review for good money, and became a writer. King was well read in nineteenth-century thinkers—Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Herbert Spencer, John Ruskin, and Thomas Carlyle, among others. She moved in literary circles and was a close friend of Sam and Livy Clemens. King considered herself part of the larger realist movement, once avowing, "I am not a romanticist, I am a realist" (p. 398).
In her collection Balcony Stories (1893) and in her novel The Pleasant Ways of St. Médard (1916), King worked out her Confederate apologetics with a foot in both camps. For the most part, she rejected the romantic love interest as a plot device and wrote instead of frustration, loss, aging, and death. In nuanced and restrained prose, she captured the speech, dress, habits, political opinions, and economic circumstances of her characters. Her manner is analytical, sometimes sententious, and rhetorically unsentimental. Her plots, often involving refugees, are typically driven by historical circumstance. And her insights into contemporary gender issues are often frank and progressive.
However, King's professed realism was tainted by her own tempered nostalgia for a slaveholding culture. Her Confederate sympathies, which arose from her family's painful experiences during the Civil War, blinded her to the economic circumstances that had led to the war and shut off sympathy for African Americans who did not submit to gracious servitude. In her fiction, meddling Yankees sundered the warm bond between master and slave and blighted the virtues of Louisiana's white Creole and American aristocracy. For example, in "A Crippled Hope," when Butler's Union forces invade New Orleans and free its slaves, a lame slave woman who nurses other slaves in a slave auction house finds that the soldiers, like her slave-trading master, deny her "some master whom she could have loved, some mistress whom she could have adored" (p. 117). In "La Grande Demoiselle," African American Union troops occupy the resplendent plantation home of Idalie Sainte Foy Mortemart des Islets; when the house burns, the troops carry her out in her chemise de nuit. King renders this tableau, which adumbrates Idalie's descent into poverty as a teacher of black children, with the objective restraint of a patrician who would not stoop to sensational Negrophobia. But the message is plain. "The Little Convent Girl," one of King's best stories, follows a young woman who has just lost her father as she journeys from a Cincinnati convent to New Orleans, "the terminus of the never" (p. 156), to meet her mother for the first time. The crew of the steamboat is astonished when the mother, a "colored" woman, comes to claim her daughter. When the young woman returns to the wharf a month later seeking comfort from the crew she had befriended, she is rebuffed and either jumps or falls into the Mississippi and drowns. Without censure or sentiment, King's treatment of the tragic mulatta figure creates a resonant sympathy for the young woman who lives in three worlds and belongs to none.
John William De Forest (1826–1906), a Connecticut Yankee by birth, temperament, and military allegiance, gave no quarter to the city he helped to occupy in 1862. In Miss Ravenel's Conversion from Secession to Loyalty (1867), he juxtaposed liberal New England ideals and reactionary southern ideals. De Forest draws his ideological lines broadly, depicting New Orleans as a Sodom and the South as a land of barbarians, root diggers, Hottentots, and jackasses, but he has been justly praised for the nervous, grisly realism of his battle scenes, unmatched by his contemporaries.
A New Orleans native of black, white, and possibly Native American ancestry, Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875–1935), born Alice Moore, published Violets and Other Tales (1895) when she was twenty. Its most striking piece is an essay called "The Woman," which champions the independent working woman who escapes "a serfdom . . . which too often becomes galling and unendurable" (1:25). The writer recast some stories from Violets and added new ones in The Goodness of St. Rocque (1899). In this collection of spare and formally assured tales, she wrote primarily about multi-ethnic characters in and around New Orleans—usually small, lonely figures in melancholy circumstances. Dunbar-Nelson's tonal and stylistic restraint deflects the sentimental trajectory of her plots. She attends social detail and dialect with painterly exactitude and thrift but forfeits subjective complexity in the bargain. The racial composition of her Creole characters is often coded, so that local readers recognize mixed-race characters whom outsiders may read as unraced. Her social criticism is objective and subdued. A deadly labor melee between Irish longshoremen and black stevedores (based on labor riots in 1892) rages offstage in "Mr. Baptiste" as the title character, a Creole, is murdered by an Irish laborer for siding with the "negroes." But the motives of Mr. Baptiste, who may be a mixed-race character, are apparently selfish, and the pathos of his death obscures the racial tension behind it. In "Tony's Wife," the title character, who is not Tony's wife, suffers regular beatings from her brutal Italian "husband." On his deathbed, he refuses to marry her and gives his business and all his money to his brother. Blunting the sentimental potential of this tale, Dunbar-Nelson makes the protagonist "meek, pale, little, ugly, and German," a woman whose eyes flicker to life only when she learns that Tony will die. Though in the end she has clearly been cheated by Tony and by convention, the feminist strain voiced earlier in "The Woman" is here subdued by the author's aversion to sentimentality.
The best story of this collection is "Sister Josepha," in which an orphaned New Orleans girl of mixed race who has been left on the doorstep of a white convent takes orders after refusing the guardianship of a white couple because the husband leers at her. She finds her regimen at the convent bleak and intolerable. The cool narrator understands Sister Josepha's romantic yearnings for "the ethereal airiness of earthly joys" and her distaste for "the ugly garb, the coarse meats," yet grudges her an escape: "Sister Josepha did not know that the rainbow is elusive, and its colours but the illumination of tears; she had never been told that earthly ethereality is necessarily ephemeral, nor that bonbons and glacés, whether of the palate or of the soul, nauseate and pall upon the taste" (1:164). Alternatives to the convent may indeed have been bleak for a young female orphan of mixed race. In the end the young nun weeps as the heavy door of her convent closes upon "narrow, squalid Chartres Street." Dunbar-Nelson's stoical vision of New Orleans holds romantic carnality, uncertain racial identity, and cloistral austerity in grim suspension.
Born in Greece to a British citizen and a Greek mother, Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904) spent ten years in New Orleans, beginning in 1878. He was an editor at both the Item and the Times-Democrat. He published "Gombo Zhèbes": A Little Dictionary of Creole Proverbs (1885), a cookbook, and Chita: A Memory of Last Island (1889). The last is a lyrical, impressionistic novella about a girl who survives the 1856 hurricane that destroyed the resort of Ile Derniére. Though dramatically flawed, the book is a stylistic tour de force by the polyglot Hearn, who wrote lovely, if occasionally cloying, English and captured both the dialects and native languages of Louisiana's marsh cultures.
Kate Chopin (1851–1904) may have married into Louisiana at nineteen, when she moved with her husband to New Orleans in 1870, but her maternal rearing was St. Louis French Creole. Even her Irish father spoke French. The decade she spent in New Orleans and seven subsequent years in Clotierville before she returned to St. Louis provided urban Creole and rural Acadian material for an early novel, At Fault (1890); two collections of stories, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897); and her classic novella, The Awakening (1899). The novella, in which Chopin brought her considerable literary and scientific learning to bear upon the life of young Edna Pontellier, was received with a mixture of praise for its formal accomplishment and censure for its moral latitude. The protagonist, a Kentucky Protestant by birth, marries a bourgeois New Orleans Creole, grows dissatisfied in her marriage, and awakens to her position in society as a mother and as a possession of her husband. With regard to sex, Creole society is, paradoxically, both verbally frank and conventionally rigid. This tension, coinciding with Edna's social and sexual awakening, abrades her romantic personality, and she drowns herself at the beach resort of Grand Isle.
Other New Orleans writers of the period included the local colorist Ruth McEnery Stuart, the historians Charles Gayarré and Rodolphe Desdunes, and the Bourbon journalist and fiction writer Sallie Rhett Roman.
Serial publications in New Orleans waned during the Civil War. The Picayune was the only English-language newspaper to endure it. Other English-language post-bellum newspapers included the Item, the States, the Times, the Democrat, and the Times-Democrat, which became the Times-Picayune in 1914. For almost ten years, beginning in 1889, the New Orleans Crusader, an African American newspaper, fought Bourbon oppression. The German-language New Orleans Deutsche Zeitung, founded in 1848, was succeeded fifty-nine years later by the Neue Deutsche Zeitung, which was published until 1917. New Orleans newspapers often printed serialized novels, such as Sally Rhett Roman's Tonie (Times-Democrat, 1900) and Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein's The Mysteries of New Orleans (Zeitung, 1854–1855). Influential magazines of the period included De Bow's Review, published from 1846 until 1880, and the literary Comptes-Rendus de L'Athéné Louisianais.
From 1880 until a massive failed strike in 1892, New Orleans witnessed a large growth of labor organizations and a number of small strikes. Black and white unions often competed against one another, a tension Dunbar-Nelson dramatized in "Mr. Baptiste."
Just after the turn of the century, yellow fever outbreaks that had plagued New Orleans throughout the last decades of the nineteenth century were ended when the city's open gutters were salted and its tens of thousands of open drinking water cisterns were screened and oiled.
A number of universities were established in or near New Orleans between 1860 and 1920: the Louisiana State Agricultural and Mechanical College (1874), later known as Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge; Tulane University (1884) and its adjunct H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College for Women (1886); Loyola College and Academy (1904); St. Mary's Dominican Academy (1861); three African American institutions, Dillard University (1869), Xavier University (1915), and Southern University (1880, later Southern University at Baton Rouge); and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (1917).
The theater, always vigorous in New Orleans, also revived after the war. Major venues after 1880 included the Grand Opera House, the Crescent, and the Tulane, and after 1900 the Elysium, Lyric, Schubert, and Baldwin theaters and Welch's Hippodrome. Plays by black actors and writers appeared at the Orleans, Pythian Hall, Lyric, and Palace theaters.
Storyville, the notorious lower Basin Street district of legalized prostitution, thrived from 1897 until 1917, when the Navy Department effectively shut it down. For a quarter, patrons could purchase the Blue Book, which listed all working prostitutes, black and white. At the district's pitch about two thousand prostitutes worked in over two hundred houses.
Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton, one of the first great jazz pianists, played at least one of the Storyville houses. Other legendary figures of jazz (or "jass") music—Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, King Oliver—built on an improvisational syncopated style that had evolved earlier in the nineteenth century from (among other sources) martial music played by roving brass bands. Remarkably, the diverse ethnic voices of antebellum New Orleans and the liberal voices of its postwar era survived Bourbon rule—in the fiction of Dunbar-Nelson, in Hearn's polyglot narratives, in Morton's jazz, and elsewhere—only slightly the worse for wear.
Howells, William Dean. Heroines of Fiction. 2 vols. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1901.
King, Grace. Balcony Stories. 1893. Ridgewood, N.J.: Gregg, 1968.
King, Grace. "To Fred Lewis Pattee." 19 January 1915. In Grace King of New Orleans, edited by Robert Bush. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1973.
Turner, Arlin. George W. Cable: A Biography. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1956.
Bush, Robert. Grace King: A Southern Destiny. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983.
Davis, Edwin Adams. Louisiana: A Narrative History. 3rd ed. Baton Rouge, La.: Claitor's, 1971.
Gargano, James W., ed. Critical Essays on John William De Forest. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981.
Kirby, David. Grace King. Boston: Twayne, 1980.
Larson, Susan. The Booklover's Guide to New Orleans. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999.
Leavitt, Mel. A Short History of New Orleans. San Francisco: Lexikos, 1982.
Light, James F. John William De Forest. New York: Twayne, 1965.
Martin, Wendy, ed. New Essays on "The Awakening." New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Perry, Carolyn, and Mary Louise Weaks. The History of Southern Women's Literature. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002.
Richardson, Thomas J., ed. "The Grandissimes": Centennial Essays. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1981.
Rubin, Louis D. George W. Cable: The Life and Times of a Southern Heretic. New York: Pegasus, 1969.
Taylor, Helen. Gender, Race, and Region in the Writings of Grace King, Ruth McEnery Stuart, and Kate Chopin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.
Taylor, Joe Gray. Louisiana: A History. New York: Norton, 1984.
Toth, Emily. Kate Chopin. New York: Morrow, 1990.
According to many literary histories, New Orleans became significant after the end of Reconstruction with the publication of George Washington Cable's nationally popular short stories and novels. Cable's works of fiction, especially The Grandissimes (1880), introduced the national reading public to the peculiar cultural geography of New Orleans, the ethnic clashes of "Creoles" and "Americans," and the legacies of slavery and racial mixture in the city. A number of studies have traced the "myth of New Orleans" in literature from Cable forward. However, looking back to the middle decades of the nineteenth century demonstrates the city's unique role in the literary imagination of the United States.
URBANIZATION AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY
New Orleans was diverse from the beginning. In the half century preceding Louisiana's statehood in 1812, the territory had transferred from French to Spanish back to French and finally to American rule with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The French-speaking or "Creole" population, comprised primarily of descendants of the colonial period and refugees from the Haitian Revolution, dominated in the city during the early two decades of the nineteenth century. The bulk of the refugees made it to New Orleans in 1809 indirectly from their first resettlement in Cuba. This group consisted in almost equal numbers of whites, slaves, and free people of color. Slavery was officially outlawed throughout the French colonies in 1794, although Napoleon reinstated slavery later. This led to renewed fighting in Haiti and its subsequent declaration of a free independent state. The free people of color émigrés also had free status in New Orleans. However, after the arrival of the steamboat in 1812 and the expansion of the cotton and sugar economies of the old Southwest, migrants from English-speaking states flooded the city in response to its new commercial potential. Indeed, by 1850 New Orleans was, after New York City, America's second-busiest port and financial center. In the early part of the century New Orleans was little more than a grid of seven streets by twelve. However, by 1870, despite the shortage of habitable land, New Orleans had snaked along the Mississippi River to absorb the nearby plantations and towns.
The population of New Orleans population grew from about 20,000 in 1810 to approximately 180,000 in 1850, absorbing waves of immigration from the Caribbean and Europe and a steady stream of English speakers from other states. Approximately 350,000 immigrants entered New Orleans between 1847 and 1857, fleeing famine in Ireland and political repression following the 1848 revolutions in Germany and France. Travelers to New Orleans often remarked on its cultural diversity, likening the levee to the tower of Babel and comparing the gaggle of different languages to the noise of frogs in a swamp. Reflecting this polyglot culture, newspapers catering to French and German speakers especially thrived during the antebellum period. Readers of these periodicals enjoyed serialized fiction that adapted European literary styles to an American context. The work of Charles Testut (1819–1892)—including two volumes of poetry, Echos (1849) and Fleurs d'eté (1851); a work of critical studies of other francophone writers, Portraits littéraires (1850); and an unpublished antislavery novel, "Le vieux Salomon" (1858)—bridges racial concerns and cultural groups. Likewise the Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein (1826–1885) published Die Geheimnisse von New Orleans (The mysteries of New Orleans) in 1854 and 1855 in the German-language newspaper Louisiana Staats-Zeitung. This antislavery novel followed the tradition of contemporary European urban mysteries in which the city itself seemed to be a central character.
Although linguistic diversity was a hallmark of antebellum New Orleans, perhaps the most distinguishing of its features among cities in the United States was its large mixed-race free population. Numbering almost twenty thousand at its peak in 1840, this group of free people of color, or gens de couleur libre as they were called, had its roots in the colonial period, when French and Spanish colonials manumitted their children by slave women. Natural increase and the influx of free people of color from Haiti in 1809 reinforced this group formally separated from slaves and whites by laws carefully circumscribing their marriage. Nevertheless, a tradition of inter-racial liaisons persisted, supported by informal institutions, such as the quadroon ball, social occasions for white men and free women of color, and plaçage, a practice by which a white man literally "placed" a woman of color under his protection; in many such cases the man would provide a home for the woman and their children.
Many historians have described the mid-nineteenth century in New Orleans as a period of "Americanization," a process in which English replaced French as the language of state and French and Spanish racial customs, characterized by the acknowledgment of racial mixture, faded before an Anglo-American black-white binary. During the antebellum period a sense of a fading Creole dominance and an Anglo-American ascendancy colored New Orleans politics. From 1836 until 1852 the city was split into three different municipalities, roughly corresponding to ethnic distinctions between French and English speakers. During the schism, Charles Gayarré (1805–1895), the preeminent historian of nineteenth-century Louisiana and a state senator, created an ideology of place that would assert Creole priority in Louisiana. His writing effected an ethnic reconciliation with English-speaking Americans and established "whiteness" as the ideology through which this reconciliation would take place. Gayarré's efforts culminated in a four-volume History of Louisiana (1854), offered in French and English and cast in the mold of Walter Scott's romantic nationalism. In Gayarré's account, French and Spanish colonials melded, albeit violently at times, to form a poetic race of "Creoles," and Creoles and "Americans" combined to embody the true Louisianian, while Native Americans disappeared without protest and Africans continued to provide menial and hard labor. During the 1850s Gayarré's historical account accompanied laws curtailing the rights of people of African descent and granting liberties to those who could establish a white identity.
SLAVERY AND RACE
New Orleans was simultaneously a place of great wealth and opportunity and a site of immense suffering and despair. Nothing demonstrates this paradox as much as the context of slavery. New Orleans depended heavily on the slave economy—on sugar and cotton, the agricultural products of the slave system, and also on the buying and selling of human property itself. The prominence of slavery in the economy of the city shaped its intellectual climate. The leading agricultural journal of the period, De Bow's Review, a clearinghouse for technical knowledge about slave agriculture and racial knowledge about enslaved Africans, was published in New Orleans between 1846 and 1869. The proslavery physician Samuel Cartwright lectured regularly in the city on slave "diseases" such as drapetomania, the "runaway disease," and dysaethesia aethiopica, causing mischievous behavior, conditions he observed on Louisiana's plantations. Josiah Nott, a resident of nearby Mobile, Alabama, and author with George Gliddon of the lengthy ethnology Types of Mankind (1854), lectured frequently in New Orleans as well on topics such as "mulatto degeneracy" and polygenesis, a theory of the separate origins of the various human races.
Even though New Orleans was a key center for proslavery writings, it also played a significant role in African American thought. The terminus for the dreaded trip "down the river" for countless enslaved people, the slave market of New Orleans determined slave prices and reconfigured slave communities whenever individuals were sold or families were split apart. One's value and the fate of one's familial ties were often a matter of one's performance. Solomon Northup (b. 1808), whose narrative Twelve Years a Slave (1853) tells of his capture as a free man in New York and subsequent sale to the Deep South, recalls slaves being made to strut about and secure a high value for themselves in order to secure an owner. Northup and other enslaved people parlayed their slave-market experiences in New Orleans into episodes of literal self-making that are the hallmark of the slave-narrative genre.
The context of slavery in New Orleans and southern Louisiana also provided a rich legacy of slave rebellion and resistance. Inspired by the slave uprisings eventually culminating in Haitian independence, enslaved people in Pointe Coupee Parish planned a large-scale but abortive revolt in 1795. Fueled by the influx of refugees from the Haitian Revolution in 1809–1810, fears of rebellion continued throughout the first half of the century. Despite increasingly harsh restrictions on the mobility of black people, New Orleans and its environs provided an opportunity for escaped slaves to lose themselves in anonymity. Indeed, the swamps of the region sheltered extended maroon communities (runaway slave communities operating relatively autonomously) of former slaves and their Native American allies. Imaginative writers responded to this context of resistance. In "Le Mulâtre" (The mulatto), written in 1837, the first known short story by an African American, Victor Séjour (1817–1874), a New Orleans free man of color who achieved fame as a dramatist in France, illustrated the injustices of slavery with an Oedipal character that murders his white father/owner and escapes punishment to join a community of maroons with the revolutionary slogan "Afrique et liberté." Set in St. Marc, Haiti, the birthplace of Séjour's father, the story was published in Revue des colonies, a Parisian journal edited by the Martiniquan Cyril Bissette.
An indispensable node in the interstate slave trade and a site of seemingly indiscriminate cultural and racial mixture, New Orleans also provided abolitionist writers with a vision of the evils of slavery and a picture of the moral depths to which the country might sink if not checked. The symbolic significance of New Orleans during the years leading up to the Civil War is exemplified in Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811–1896) Uncle Tom's Cabin, published serially in the National Era in 1851–1852. Articulating a moral judgment on slavery and the environment that would support it, the character of Ophelia, a New England spinster, pronounces New Orleans to be "old and heathenish." This moral atmosphere is contagious, endangering transplants to the region, such as the villainous slave-holder Simon Legree, who becomes irredeemably evil.
One of the most important figures in the sentimental antislavery literature was the tragic mixed-race character who appeared to be white but who had black ancestry and thus suffered under slavery and other race-based social ills. In the context of slavery, the mixed-race woman, or "fancy girl," commanded large sums of money because the distance between her apparent and "actual" identity heightened the slave master's sexual desire. In the context of antislavery literature, the mixed-race character commanded increased sympathy from a primarily white reading audience who could see its own features in her white visage. Gustave de Beaumont (1802–1866), the traveling partner of Alexis de Tocqueville, published Marie; ou, L'esclavage aux États-Unis in Paris in 1835 using the title character, a mixed-race woman from a New Orleans family, as a vehicle for demonstrating the injustices of racial hierarchy in the United States. Likewise, the dramatist Dion Boucicault's (1820–1890) The Octoroon; or, Life in Louisiana, a wildly popular drama of slavery in Louisiana and an ill-fated romance between a near-white enslaved woman and her white suitor, was staged in 1859 in New York and London.
While important symbolically in the debate over slavery and race and an irresistible subject for antislavery moralists, the francophone mixed-race population of New Orleans managed to form its own literary tradition during the antebellum period. Writing in the progressive tradition of French Romanticism and in some cases living in exile in France, free people of color of New Orleans drew inspiration from radical French activists such as Victor Hugo and Alphonse de Lamartine. In 1845 Armand Lanusse (1812–1867), a teacher, edited Les Cenelles, an anthology of poetry by free men of color which is often cited as the first African American poetry anthology. Although Les Cenelles has drawn criticism for its specific failure to condemn slavery, its themes of exile and return, denied birthright, and the melancholy caused by caste distinction align it closely with the politically progressive Romantic literature of France.
RECONSTRUCTION AND BEYOND
New Orleans played as strategic a role in the political economy of Reconstruction America as it did in the moral economy of antislavery literature. Captured by Union troops in May 1862, southeastern Louisiana, including New Orleans, had perhaps one of the longest reconstructions in the South and thus became a testing ground for Reconstruction policies. Abraham Lincoln hoped that the relatively strong Union sentiment in the city would make Louisiana a prime candidate for readmittance to the Union under his 10 Percent Plan, whereby 10 percent of the Confederate population would swear oaths of allegiance to the United States. The conservative 1864 state constitution produced under this plan provoked opposition from Radical Republicans locally and nationally. At the forefront of the new campaign for racial equality and political reform, free people of color published the official newspaper of the Republican Party, the New Orleans Tribune (1864–1870). The Tribune and its predecessor, L'Union de la Nouvelle Orleans (1862–1864), offered news in French and English as well as poetry and serialized fiction. Although the political climate of New Orleans was extremely volatile, the proximity in the city of former Confederates and former slaves, an educated group of activists of color, Union occupiers, and carpetbagger politicians, provided an opportunity for some to imagine racial, cultural, and sectional reconciliation. Lydia Maria Child (1802–1880) dramatized this potential in her Romance of the Republic (1867), a novel that used the setting and cast of characters available in New Orleans to speculate about the ways in which a stronger United States could emerge from the ashes of the Civil War.
In the decades that ensued, New Orleans—in reality and in literature—witnessed heated and often violent debate over controversial issues ranging from federal jurisdiction to race relations. Struggles for black social equality and white supremacy originating in New Orleans played themselves out on a local and national scene, resulting most significantly in the compromise ending Reconstruction in 1876 and Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, which declared segregation to be constitutional. Against this backdrop, late-nineteenth-century "local color" writers such as Cable, Grace King, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and others entertained national audiences with exotic characters and local dialect. However, this seemingly benign body of literature extends the legacy of a volatile century of Americanization, offering readers and scholars a window onto the fraught issues of racial, cultural, and national identity.
Beaumont, Gustaive de. Marie; ou, L'esclavage aux ÉtatsUnis, tableau de moeurs américaines [Marie; or, slavery in the United States: A novel of Jacksonian America]. 1835. Translated by Barbara Chapman. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1958.
Bouciault, Dion. The Octoroon. 1866. Cambridge, U.K.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1996.
Cable, George Washington. The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life. New York: Scribners, 1880.
Child, Lydia Maria. A Romance of the Republic. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Gayarré, Charles. History of Louisiana. New York: Redfield, 1854; W. J. Widdleton, 1866.
Lanusse, Armand. Les Cenelles: A Collection of Poems ofCreole Writers of the Early Nineteenth Century. Translated by Regine Latortue and Gleason Rex Adams. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1979.
Nott, Josiah, and George Glidden. Types of Mankind; or,Ethnological Researches, Based upon the Ancient Monuments, Paintings, Sculptures, and Crania of Races. 1854. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott; London: Trubner, 1865.
Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave. London: Auburn, Derby, and Miller, 1853.
Reizenstein, Baron Ludwig von. The Mysteries of NewOrleans. Translated and edited by Steven Rowan. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.
Séjour, Victor. "Le Mûlatre." In The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature: A Reader of Original Texts with English Translations, edited by Marc Shell and Werner Sollors. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly. 1851–1852. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Bell, Caryn Cossé. Revolution, Romanticism, and the Afro-Creole Protest Tradition in Louisiana, 1718–1868. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1997.
Bryan, Violet Harrington. The Myth of New Orleans inLiterature: Dialogues of Race and Gender. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993.
Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo. Africans in Colonial Louisiana:The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992.
Hirsch, Arnold, and Joseph Logsdon. Creole New Orleans:Race and Americanization. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992.
Johnson, Walter. Soul by Soul: Life inside the AntebellumSlave Market. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.
Reinders, Robert. The End of an Era: New Orleans 1850–1860. New Orleans: Pelican Press, 1964.
Roach, Joseph. Cities of the Dead: Circum-AtlanticPerformance. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.
Rowan, Steve. "Introduction." In The Mysteries of NewOrleans, by Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein, edited by Steven Rowan, pp. xiii–xxxiii. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.
Ryan, Mary. Civic Wars: Democracy and Public Life in theAmerican City during the Nineteenth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Shirley E. Thompson
New Orleans: Recreation
New Orleans: Recreation
Visitors can tour New Orleans by bus, boat, seaplane, streetcar, or horse-drawn carriage, whether seeking a general-interest excursion or a specialized trip. Points of interest include Cajun country; picturesque homes, plantations, and gardens; and historic sites. Self-guided driving and walking tours are also available in the city.
Part of Jean Lafitte National Historic Park, New Orleans' French Quarter is one of America's most famous neighborhoods. Park rangers offer free walking tours that begin at the park information center. A living slice of history, the French Quarter's Vieux Carre is home to people from all walks of life. Its intriguing architecture is mainly Spanish, dating from the late 1700s after two fires destroyed nearly all of the city's French buildings. Visits to the French Quarter usually begin in Jackson Square, originally a municipal drill field and parade ground known as the "Place d'Armes." Painters and musicians hone their arts in the square while pigeons flock around the famed equestrian statue of General Andrew Jackson. The square is dominated by St. Louis Cathedral, built in 1794 and remodeled in 1850. Next door, the Cabildo, the one-time Spanish government building where Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase agreement was signed, houses French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's death mask and a collection of folk art.
A section of the Mississippi River levee adjacent to Jackson Square serves as a promenade. Renamed the Moon Walk when renovated, it offers a scenic view of the river. The Woldenburg Riverfront Park, stretching from Canal Street to the Moonwalk, gives direct access to the Mississippi River. Elsewhere in the French Quarter landmarks such as the Old Ursuline Convent—the oldest recorded building in the Mississippi Valley and now restored as Archbishop Antoine Blanc Memorial—and Preservation Hall—the city's most famous jazz club where pioneers of the idiom still perform nightly—join with antique shops, confectioneries, Bourbon Street jazz clubs, world-famous restaurants, historic homes, art galleries, sidewalk cafes, and outdoor markets to make the French Quarter New Orleans's top tourism drawing card.
The Audubon Nature Institute comprises several attractions throughout New Orleans. Its Audubon Zoo displays more than 2,000 animals in natural habitats, and the spectacular Aquarium of the Americas displays exhibits of 530 species of fish, birds and reptiles. Adjacent to the Aquarium is the Entergy IMAX Theater. The Louisiana Nature Center is an 86-acre forest and wetland, featuring trails, interpretive galleries, exhibits, and a planetarium. The Audubon Insectarium is scheduled to open in fall 2005. The "largest free-standing museum in the country devoted to 900,000 + known species of insects and their relatives," the museum will encompass 23,000 square feet of exhibit space at the U.S. Customs House in New Orleans.
New Orleans's varied neighborhoods, central business district, and surrounding areas provide a wide range of other attractions as well. City Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the country, showcases an 18-foot sundial, a carousel, a children's story land, and a miniature train, as well as points of historic interest. Six Flags New Orleans theme park provides roller coasters and New Orleans-themed entertainment for families. Construction began on the fortifications at Fort Pike Commemorative Area in 1818 and the buildings were used in various capacities until after the Civil War; now a 125-acre park surrounds the fort. Six Flags New Orleans theme park provides roller coasters and New Orleans-themed entertainment for families.
In the business district, sights include the K & B Plaza at Lee Circle, featuring a 5-acre sculpture garden; the International Trade Mart, which offers spectacular views of the New Orleans area from its 31st and 33rd floors; and the Civic Center, which anchors a complex of state and city buildings around an attractive plaza. Creole cottages and shotgun houses dominate the scene in many New Orleans neighborhoods. Both have a murky ancestry. The Creole cottage, two rooms wide and two or more rooms deep under a generous pitched roof with a front overhang or gallery, is thought to have evolved from various European and Caribbean forms. The shotgun house is one room wide and two, three or four rooms deep under a continuous gable roof. As legend has it, the name was suggested by the fact that because the rooms and doors line up, one can fire a shotgun through the house without hitting anything.
Among the area's picturesque and historic sights is the Longue Vue House and Gardens, a Greek Revival mansion with eight acres of meticulously tended grounds showcasing a spectacular Spanish Court. Conveying residents and visitors past antebellum homes, the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and represents the nation's only surviving historic streetcar system. All 35 electric cars were manufactured by the Brill & Perley Thomas Company between 1922 and 1924 and are still in use. The Riverfront Line connects the cultural and commercial developments along the riverfront. In the Garden District, a New Orleans neighborhood registered with the Historic Landmarks Commission, stately nineteenth-century homes line wide streets.
Because the high water table restricts burials in New Orleans to above-ground edifices, the city's old cemeteries (called "cities of the dead") are often sought out for their unusual beauty. There are 42 cemeteries in the metropolitan New Orleans area. Metairie Cemetery is thought by many to be the most beautiful as well as the most unique cemetery, not only in New Orleans, but anywhere in the world, featuring architecture styles from around the world.
Crossing 24 miles of open water between Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the world's longest overwater highway bridge; other drives along area waterfronts and bayou country afford scenic views as well. The Louisiana Nature Center, the Michoud NASA facility, Fairgrounds and Jefferson Downs racetracks, the Pitot House Museum, and the Chalmette National Historical Park are among the many other points of interest in and around New Orleans.
Arts and Culture
New Orleans enjoys an extensive cultural life. The New Orleans Cultural Center with its Municipal Auditorium and Theater of Performing Arts hosts ballets, operas, and concerts. Broadway productions are staged at the Saenger Performing Arts Center, while Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre offers community theater on two stages housed in historic architecture. University theaters, dinner theaters, the Contemporary Arts Center, and other area stages also mount various performing arts productions. With a repertoire that ranges from classical to popular music, the New Orleans Philharmonic performs in the Orpheum Theater. The New Orleans Opera Association, a resident company, features renowned guest soloists in its full productions, while concerts by chamber groups spotlight music for smaller groups. Various university and church organizations also offer musical performances in the New Orleans area, while at nightspots around the city listeners can find rhythm and blues, rock and roll, reggae, Cajun, and country music performed by national and local talent.
But music in New Orleans means just one thing to many residents and visitors: jazz. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries African American musicians evolved a style of music that fused African American rhythms and improvisatory methods with European musical styles and the syncopated St. Louis-based piano music known as ragtime. This blend formed the basis for a musical idiom heard in Storyville—New Orleans's brothel district—as well as in parades and at parties, picnics, and funerals. Gradually the new style of musical expression, called jazz, began to take hold outside the city's African American community; the first jazz recording was made in 1917 by a white New Orleans group called the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Many consider jazz to have come of age with the trumpet genius of Louis Armstrong, a New Orleans native whose music is familiar worldwide and whose statue graces New Orleans's Armstrong Park. Traditional straight-ahead jazz such as Armstrong played is the predominant style heard in present-day New Orleans nightclubs, on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, and elsewhere across the birthplace of jazz.
The importance of jazz to New Orleans can be seen in the jazz exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum system's Old U.S. Mint facility, which also features a Mardi Gras Carnival exhibit. The state museum system, which maintains several facilities, also presents folk art and traveling exhibitions. The Confederate Museum, the oldest museum in New Orleans, preserves Civil War flags, uniforms, weapons, currency, and other mementos. Jackson Barracks houses a large number of military artifacts, Kenner Historical Museum features various Jefferson Parish items of interest, and Historic New Orleans Collection exhibits imaginative displays in the eighteenth-century home of the collection's founder.
At the Voodoo Museum in the French Quarter, occult displays and a Witchcraft Shop merge a part of old and modern New Orleans. Marie Laveau's grave in St. Louis Cemetery #1 is visited and meticulously maintained by legions of followers, who still place offerings there, including food or various symbols of Voodoo. One ritual that still lives on is the marking of her tomb with chalk in the shape of a cross or an X. The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum preserves antique remedies and apothecary equipment in an 1823 pharmacy building. The Louisiana Children's Museum presents hands-on exhibits, puppet workshops, and storytelling, and includes one of the few interactive math exhibits in a children's museum.
ARTnews magazine has noted that citizens of New Orleans are enthusiastic supporters of the arts. The prestigious New Orleans Museum of Art exhibits works ranging from Renaissance to avant-garde. The Contemporary Arts Center has three galleries and two theaters. It features art exhibits, as well as music, drama, and videotapes in its facility. The new Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden adjacent to the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park features 42 extraordinary sculptures installed among 100-year-old oaks, mature pines, magnolias and camellias. The sculptures, valued in excess of $25 million, include works by world-renowned twentieth-century artists as Henry Moore, George Rickey, Jacques Lipchitz, and George Segal. The Besthoff Sculpture Garden is open to the public without charge. There are about 150 other art galleries in the city where local, national, and international artists show their work throughout the year.
Scenes of New Orleans history are on display at the Musee Conti Wax Museum. The Cabildo, site of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase, exhibits steamboat artifacts and paintings and Louisiana historical items, as well as Napoleon's death mask. House museums, such as the Gallier House in the French Quarter, carefully restored to its mid-nineteenth-century elegance, and the Pitot House in Bayou St. John, containing Federal period antiques, are available for touring.
Festivals and Holidays
The Nokia Sugar Bowl on New Years' Day is the oldest annual sporting event in New Orleans; besides football, festivities include tennis, yachting, and other events. In spring the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is an extravaganza attracting thousands of musicians, craftsmen, and chefs to New Orleans for ten days of concerts, displays, and revelry featuring blues, gospel, ragtime, Cajun, swing, folk, and jazz performances. During the seven-day Spring Fiesta, plantations, courtyards, and private homes throughout New Orleans can be viewed on special tours. In July, the city hosts Carnaval Latino, the Gulf South's most elaborate Hispanic Festival. From April to October various food festivals in the New Orleans area highlight crawfish, catfish, crab, andouille sausage, strawberries, gumbo, and other delicacies. New Orleans Christmas is a series of special events spanning the month of December.
The most famous of all celebrations in New Orleans—and perhaps in the nation—is Mardi Gras. Rooted in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, Mardi Gras season begins on January 6, or Twelfth Night. Parades, private balls, and parties continue through Mardi Gras Day, the day before Ash Wednesday, which signifies the beginning of the six-week period of Lent that precedes Easter. Carnival celebrations culminate in rollicking street revelry, formal masked balls, and ritualistic torchlight parades featuring elaborate floats, dancing, lavish costumes, and merriment that infects visitors and residents alike.
Sports for the Spectator
The Louisiana Superdome is home to the National Football League's New Orleans Saints football team; the annual Sugar Bowl football classic and Tulane University's football contests are also played there. The Zephyrs, a farm team of the Houston Astros, play minor-league baseball at Zephyr Field. The New Orleans Arena is home to the Arena Football League's New Orleans VooDoo and the National Basketball Association's New Orleans Hornets.
Consecutive racing schedules at Jefferson Downs and the Fairgrounds racetracks fill the equestrian calendar. Sports spectators can also see tennis tournaments and the Compaq Golf Classic of New Orleans, as well as the annual 10K (6.2 mile) Crescent City Classic road race. In nearby Slidell, the Bayou Liberty Pirogue Races test the skill of boaters skippering dugout canoes known as pirogues. The Ted Gormely Stadium in City Park, refurbished as a state-of-the-art sports facility, hosted the 1992 Olympic Track & Field Triad. The Grand Prix du Mardi Gras is a major league road race held in June in downtown's historic riverfront area. Riverboat gambling is available on the paddleboat vessels "America" and "Queen of New Orleans."
Sports for the Participant
New Orleans's 1,500-acre City Park offers four golf courses, a two-tiered driving range, 48 tennis courts, rental canoes and paddleboats, and riding stables. Six other public parks also maintain public golf, tennis, and similar facilities.
Popular water sports such as wind surfing, sailing, and boating are possible year-round on New Orleans-area lakes and through the region's lush bayous and marshlands. The delta has always been a prime area for deep-water and freshwater fishing, crawfishing, crabbing, and shrimping, in addition to seasonal duck and deer hunting.
Shopping and Dining
Canal Street has historically been a center in New Orleans for department stores and specialty shops, and the locale continues its tradition with such retail and office developments as One Canal Place and the nearby Riverwalk, which features not only shops but restaurants, cafes, bars, and magnificent views of the Mississippi River. At once-famous Jackson Brewery, now a marketplace, shops, entertainment, and Louisiana food specialties lure visitors. In the French Quarter, handicraft, antique, and candy stores draw buyers from around the country. Accessible via the St. Charles Street streetcar, Magazine Street's clusters of small shops begin in the Garden District and extend for more than three miles of antique shops and art galleries.
For more than 160 years the long, narrow French Market across from Jackson Square in the French Quarter has furnished area cooks with exotic spices, fresh produce, and cheeses at stalls encompassing coffee houses and craft shops as well. Shops retailing health food, books, brassware, perfume, and other specialty items are also popular among visiting and resident consumers.
New Orleans, dubbed the nation's culinary capital, considers cooking and dining to be art forms. Local chefs excel in variety while specializing in unique Cajun and Creole cuisines. Creole cooking, originally the region's urban gastronomic style, combines several elements: the French provincial talent for incorporating a wide variety of ingredients into its repertoire, the Spanish taste for zest, the Choctaw affinity for herbs and spices, the African understanding of slow cooking, the American Southern tradition, and subsequent ethnic infusions. Creole cuisine is perhaps best exemplified by its complex sauces with Mediterranean and Caribbean inflections. Cajun cuisine, on the other hand, originally the region's rural cooking style, is more robust and savory and is typified by such dishes as boudin, a smoky pork sausage; crawfish etouffe, a tomato-based stew of small lobster-like crustaceans served over rice; boiled crawfish liberally seasoned with cayenne pepper; or blackened redfish, a highly seasoned fillet of fish charred in a hot skillet.
Cajun and Creole elements are combined in the cuisine of present-day New Orleans, where diners at the more than 3,000 restaurants find numerous local specialties: jambalaya, a spicy blend of shrimp, ham, tomatoes, vegetables, and rice; andouille, a salty sausage; gumbo, from an African word meaning okra, now signifying a thick soup; red beans and rice, traditionally a washday recipe featuring kidney beans; dirty rice, pan-fried leftover rice cooked with giblets, spices, and onions; mirliton, a vegetable pear cooked like squash; plantains, large starchy bananas served as a side dish; seafood, from oysters Rockefeller and shrimp Creole to boiled crab and broiled pompano; and the po' boy, a fried sandwich on crusty French bread typically featuring oysters but possibly instead featuring roast beef, crab, or shrimp. Diners in New Orleans are likely to encounter eggplant, avocados, yams, and mangoes in the regional cuisine as well. Sweet offerings typical of the Crescent City include pecan pralines, bread or rice pudding with caramel or whiskey sauce, and beignets—square, fried doughnuts sprinkled with powdered sugar. Coffee in New Orleans is brewed strong and sometimes blended with roasted chicory root or chocolate, and it can be served as cafe au lait—half hot milk—or cafe brulot—mixed with spices, orange peel, and liqueurs and set aflame. Residents and visitors alike find dining in New Orleans to be an event in itself.
Visitor Information: The New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2020 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130; telephone (504)566-5011 or (800)672-6124
New Orleans: Economy
New Orleans: Economy
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
The New Orleans economy is dominated by four major sectors: oil/gas and related activities, tourism, the port and ship/boat building, and aerospace manufacturing. The presence of universities, hospitals, legal/accounting and other professional services, together with key installations of the U.S. Navy and other military operations in the region adds further to its diversified economic base.
Tourism continues to be the driving force of New Orleans' economy. Boasting attractions such as its magnetic French Quarter, America's largest Mardis Gras festival, and river-boat gambling, New Orleans has a history of solid tourist trade. In a city with more than 10 million visitors annually, the hospitality business supplies more than 66,000 jobs in the service sector such as accommodations and restaurants. In 2004, tourists spent $4.9 billion in New Orleans.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, New Orleans was heralded by several magazines as a top place for small businesses and entrepreneurs. One magazine noted that statistics from the Small Business Administration showed that small businesses in the area create more than 75 percent of new jobs.
Some of New Orleans's largest private employers are shipbuilding firms, where workers build and repair vessels for the U.S. Navy, merchant fleets and cruise ship lines. Martin Marietta, manufacturers of aerospace components for NASA space projects, uses a large work force at its New Orleans operations. In recent years the economy has diversified into such varied fields as health services, aerospace, and research and technology.
The New Orleans region is also a major transportation hub and a leader in production of crude oil and natural gas processing facilities.
Items and goods produced: ships, petrochemical products, food processing, stone, clay and glass products, printing and publishing
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
An exemption from ad valorem property taxes levied by local parishes and municipalities is offered to new and expanding manufacturing industries. In addition, the Louisiana Urban Enterprise Zone program offers tax credits and other incentives to businesses locating in specially designated areas. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are eligible to have ad valorem property taxes on inventories levied by municipal government credited against the state corporate and personal income taxes and the corporation franchise tax.
Greater New Orleans, Inc.'s International Business and Trade Development Department was created to position the region as a prominent player in global marketplace. The strategy includes developing the New Orleans Region as a hub for north-south trade with the Americas, thus generating new business opportunities and accelerating job growth. Among these efforts are matchmaking meetings between local companies and international trade delegations and partnerships such as the Louisiana/Honduras Alliance, which is a broad-reaching effort with five major universities in Southeast Louisiana to rebuild Honduras in the wake of Hurricane Mitch. In partnership with other international trade organizations and public-sector officials in the region, Greater New Orleans, Inc. is helping to anchor the New Orleans Region as the Gateway to Latin America.
Louisiana has pledged itself to broaden its business base through liberal development incentives and loan programs. To that end the governor signed three tort reform bills intended to signal the state's new commitment to improving the state's business climate. In addition, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed two new incentives to attract new business. The Louisiana Quality Jobs Act offers a tax rebate of up to five percent of payroll paid each year for 10 years to new or expanding labor-intensive companies that create $1 million in gross annual payroll, conduct 75 percent of their business out of the state, and provide at least 50 percent of premium coverage for basic health insurance. The Louisiana Capital Investment Tax Credit incentive program is aimed at capital-intensive industries and will give a franchise tax credit of five percent per year over 20 years on invested capital in new or expanded facilities.
New Orleans, site of the world's first trade center, has been designated a Foreign Trade Zone. A freeport exemption law allows property tax exemptions on goods imported into the United States and held for export outside of the state or the country, as well as goods in interstate commerce that are stored while in transit through the state. The region of New Orleans has diverse business incentives sponsored by the state as well as special financing programs for companies of all sizes.
Job training programs
Greater New Orleans, Inc., whose mission is to attract new businesses to the New Orleans region, is responsible for the School-to-Career Initiative, which has organized local businesses into industry consortia in the fields of Architecture, Design, Engineering and Construction (ADEC); Culinary Arts; Financial Services; Hospitality, Travel and Tourism; Law-Related Careers; and Petrochemical. An Information Technologies Consortium and a Healthcare Consortium were recently developed. A Consortium on Out-of-School Youth (COSY) has also been established. The industry consortia provide teacher and student shadowing opportunities and internships, assisting with curriculum development and providing guidance and financial support. Speaking through the consortia, the local business community is able to voice its workforce needs and expectations of its entry-level employees. Having heard their needs, the School-to-Career Initiative focuses on creating systems that deliver the quality employees that will ensure profit and success for not only these businesses, but ultimately for the region as a whole.
"The Downtown Revival!," a multi-million dollar project that includes a long list of improvements to New Orleans' entire downtown area, is aimed at restoring the downtown and Canal Street for the millions of tourists that flock to the city each year. By 2005 $2 million had been spent on downtown-wide improvements that included new signs to help visitors find their way, extensive street landscaping, and street pole banners. Beginning in spring of the same year, developers expect to begin a $15 million project that involves major renovations and improvements to Canal Street for businesses and visitors. As part of the project, the About Face Façade Improvement Fund consists of a $156 million program to enhance the city's public transportation by way of a new Canal Street Streetcar Line program and new transit shelters.
Economic Development Information: Greater New Orleans, Inc., 601 Poydras Street, Suite 1700, New Orleans, LA 70130; telephone (504)527-6900; fax (504)527-6950
The Port of South Louisiana (LaPlace) led the nation in cargo tonnage, and the ports of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Plaquemines were in the Top 10. The Port of New Orleans, the largest inland port in the United States, is a hub of national and international transportation. It is connected to a network of 19,000 miles of inland waterways consisting of the Mississippi River, its tributaries, and other systems. More than 4,000 ship calls are made at the region's deepwater ports every year. French explorers were the first to identify the Mississippi rivermouth region as an important port location that was connected by waterways to a vast section of interior territory. American traders and farmers floated their goods downstream to New Orleans and, after 1812, steamboats transported upriver commodities that ocean-going vessels landed at New Orleans. The modern history of the Port of New Orleans, however, began in 1896 when the Louisiana state legislature created a state agency to serve as port authority. In 1925 the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal was built to connect the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. Also known as the Industrial Canal, it serves as the mouth of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, built in the 1960s as a route to the Gulf of Mexico that is more than forty miles shorter than the Mississippi River route.
Seventy percent of the nation's waterways drain through the Port of New Orleans, which operates a Foreign Trade Zone, where foreign and domestic goods can be stored and processed without being subject to U.S. customs and regulations. Commercial vessels and ship tonnage entering and leaving the area make the Port of New Orleans one of the world's busiest harbors, with imports and exports serving the iron and steel, manufacturing, agricultural, and petrochemical industries. Port-related activities involve shipbuilding and repair, grain elevators, coal terminals, warehouses, and distribution facilities, as well as steamship agencies, importers and exporters, international banks, transportation services, and foreign consular or trade offices. The port is also a departure point for a variety of pleasure cruises to Caribbean destinations and for upriver riverboat and paddlewheel cruises.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
In a bold and sweeping move, regional business leaders have closed the books on their 140 year old regional chamber and its economic development arm MetroVison, to take on a new five-year plan to generate 30,000 new jobs and $1 billion in new payroll. Recognizing that the most relevant issue for the region is a stalled economy, leaders have created Greater New Orleans, Inc. to be the new, streamlined organization to implement best-practice strategies to achieve these measurable objectives. Louisiana ranked 19th in the country in high-tech job growth for 2001, with a growth rate of 3 percent.
The following is a summary of data regarding the New Orleans metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 615,500
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 40,700
trade, transportation and utilities: 122,400
financial activities: 35,900
professional and business services: 71,900
educational and health services: 83,700
leisure and hospitality: 82,200
other services: 23,200
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $16.91
Unemployment rate: 5.0% (December 2004)
|Largest private employers||Number of employees|
|Schwegmann Bros. Giant Supermarket||4,600|
|Hibernia Corp. (banking)||3,100|
|First Commerce Corp. of Louisiana||3,026|
|South Central Bell||3,000|
|Shell Oil Company||2,700|
|Martin Marietta Manned Space System||2,400|
|Union Carbide Corp.||1,150|
|Whitney National Bank||1,305|
|Ruth's Chris Steak House||1,100|
Cost of Living
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the New Orleans area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $226,244 (Slidell–St. Tammany Parish reporting)
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 96.1 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.0% to 6.0%
State sales tax rate: 8.75% (food sales exempt)
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: Varies by parish ranging from 5.0% in Orleans Parish (City) to 4.75% in Jefferson Parish
Property tax rate: 1.70% (residential property is assessed at 10% of fair market value with a $7,500 homestead exemption)
Economic Information: Greater New Orleans, Inc., 601 Poydras Street, Suite 1700, New Orleans, LA 70130; telephone (504)527-6900; fax (504)527-6950
The Queen of the South, New Orleans, is the oldest center of gay and lesbian life in the southern United States. The origins of New Orleans's gay and lesbian communities are linked to its history as a port city and its laissezfaire attitudes toward sexuality. In 1724, for example, Captain Beauchamp of the frigate Bellone was charged with having an affair with his cabin boy. No sooner had the French Superior Council, the colony's ruling assembly, transferred the lad to another ship than Captain Beauchamp rescued the cabin boy and escaped down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.
Also in the eighteenth century, prostitution flourished in New Orleans because of the large number of sailors and bachelors in the city. Male and female prostitutes were readily available in the houses on Basin Street at the rear of the French Quarter and on the two-block boulevard of brothels on Gallatin Street, located strategically close to the waterfront. One of the more notorious houses of assignation was the home of Madam Carole and her staff of boys with names like Lady Richard and Miss Big Nellie. In 1897 city fathers attempted to regulate prostitution by creating a restricted vice district dubbed Storyville. Under wartime pressure from the U.S. Navy, Storyville closed in 1917, ending a colorful chapter of New Orleans history.
In contrast to the activities of many sailors and prostitutes, some men and women entered committed relationships with same-sex partners. At the turn of the century, two women living in a committed relationship ran the Little Courtyard Coffee Shoppe on Royal Street. Wild gossip circulated about the pair, and the shop enjoyed a thriving business attracted by the curiosity of tourists and locals alike. New Orleans men had a tradition of keeping mistresses: when the arrangement was with a young male, it was known as an uptown marriage. Typically, the gentleman lived along St. Charles Avenue or in the Garden District with his wife and family while spending his free time in the French Quarter with his male lover.
From the 1920s through World War II
In the 1920s and 1930s, gay New Orleans carved out many of the social spaces that persisted through the end of the twentieth century. The ironic effect of Prohibition in New Orleans was to allow gay bars to develop without harassment from police or public scrutiny. By the time Prohibition ended, mixed and gay bars were a mainstay of Quarter nightlife. An old New Orleans saying declared: "New Orleanians don't care what you do. They just want to know about it, but they don't care." The French Quarter attracted a bohemian community drawn by cheap rents, easy liquor, and its history as a haven for pirates, prostitutes, and artists. Notable gay bohemians lured to New Orleans included Lyle Saxon, William Spratling, Tennessee Williams, and Truman Capote.
In the 1930s, bars and restaurants continued as important meeting places of the gay community in New Orleans. Early mixed bars included the Old Absinthe House, Pat O'Brien's, and Café Lafitte, which was run by lesbian Mary Collins. Working-class males associated in the less respectable bars of the French Quarter, including the Society Page on Exchange Alley, the Starlight Lounge at Charters and St. Phillip Streets, and the Greek sailor bars on lower Decatur Street. New Orleans also contained numerous restaurants catering to the gay community. Among these, Victor's Café and James Beer Parlor became important gathering places for the gay community.
Although gay New Orleanians were in the process of creating common spaces, lines of race, class, and gender still trumped those of sexual identity. This became especially evident during carnival season, when black New Orleanians claimed their own space, protested racial inequalities, and burlesqued white New Orleans society. Notable among these carnival protests were the parades of the Black Zulu Aid and Pleasure Club. Regular features of the early parades were gangs of female impersonators who followed the rolling floats along the parade route. The leader of one of these groups was Corinne the queen, called "The Gay Cat," crowned Queen of Zulu in 1931. Transvestism demonstrated the uncertainty of multiple identity categories, and in the case of carnival, black cross-dressers challenged not only categories of sex, gender, and sexuality but also categories of race. While confusing male and female, they also brought into question differences between white and black.
In the 1940s cross-dressing for reasons other than carnival became popular parts of New Orleans nightlife. Drag queens performed for tourists at the lakefront's My-Oh-My Club. If one was particularly adventurous, one could cross the color line and visit the Dew Drop Inn, where interracial liaisons were common. In these clubs many cross-dressers found acceptance.
The Postwar Years to 1970
Following World War II, homosexuality became much more visible in New Orleans. City Park, Audubon Park, and Jackson Square were important spaces in the city's sexual geography where men could find quick and indiscriminate sex. The Lee Circle Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and the segregated Dryades YMCA were notorious among residents and visitors alike, and in the 1950s and 1960s, several bars, including the Galley House, Café Lafitte In Exile, Dixie's House of Music, Tony Bassina's, Brady's, and Charlene's served a growing gay and lesbian community. Both men and women frequented these clubs and everyone dressed well.
Police harassment accompanied the emergence of a visible homosexual community. On a single night in 1953, the New Orleans Police Department raided several gay and lesbian bars. At the Golden Rod, forty-three women and one man were arrested for obscenity. In September 1962 the vice squad arrested twenty-nine individuals in four raids, and from 1959 to 1961 a single bar was raided seventy-eight times. Following these arrests, the arrestees' names appeared in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, as did the charges and the incidentals of the arrests. Such revelations often resulted in job loss and eviction. Some committed suicide rather than face the devastating consequences to both self and family of public exposure. The most notorious case of harassment occurred between 1967 and 1969, when New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison targeted respected businessman Clay Shaw as a conspirator in the John F. Kennedy assassination because of Shaw's open homosexuality. The once-wealthy Shaw died in 1974 after suffering financial and physical distress.
Growing Political Activism
In the 1970s, New Orleans reached the height of its gay political activism. In the 1960s, the homophile movement had attracted a small following in the city, which resulted in marches through the Quarter. In January 1970, New Orleans's first militant gay political organization, the New Orleans Gay Liberation Front (GLF), campaigned for six days in front of City Hall to protest police harassment. The GLF was soon succeeded by other groups, including the Metropolitan Community Church, the Daughters Of Bilitis, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the Crescent City Coalition, and the Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus.
Increasing political activism in New Orleans coincided with the Upstairs Lounge tragedy. On the evening of 24 June 1973, an arsonist ignited a fire in the stairwell of the second-floor Upstairs Bar. For protection, the lounge had installed bars on its windows, and in the ensuing blaze, thirty-two men and women lost their lives. Memorial services were held at St. Marks United Methodist Church, where mourners proudly exited to the glare of local television cameras.
In the spring of 1977, Human Equal Rights for Everyone (HERE) organized a political march for 18 June to protest Anita Bryant's first public appearance since the repeal of a Florida ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation nine days earlier. The planned march attracted hundreds on the day of Bryant's performance and represented the pinnacle of popular activism in New Orleans.
Celebration and Tragedy
Traditionally, political issues in New Orleans have found expression in social activity. As the homophile movement spread across America in the 1950s and 1960s, New Orleanians formed the first gay carnival krewes (social clubs dedicated to the celebration of Mardi Gras). The earliest, the Krewe of Yuga, debuted in 1959 and folded in 1962 when police raided the krewe's carnival ball and arrested ninety-six participants. The longest-running krewe is Petronius, which held its first ball in 1962 and is the largest gay krewe in New Orleans. At the height of gay Mardi Gras in 1984, eleven krewes held balls. However, in the 1980s New Orleans's gay community endured the onslaught of AIDS. As an epicenter for the disease, New Orleans suffered devastating losses among the gay male population, and by the mid-1990s only four krewes remained, including Petronius, Amon Ra, Armenius, and the Lords of Leather. An important part of gay carnival is the Bourbon Street Awards, hosted since the early 1960s at various locations on either Bourbon or St. Ann Streets and showcasing the costumes and tableaux painstakingly created by New Orleanians. In the 1990s Southern Decadence became the center of New Orleans Labor Day revelries and has come to rival Mardi Gras as the gay carnival. The celebration began as a private party in 1972 and has evolved to attract visitors from around the world. The third major festival in New Orleans is Gay Halloween. Like Southern Decadence, Halloween New Orleans began as a small gathering of friends in 1984 and evolved into a major event in the 1990s. Since 1987, the proceeds from Halloween New Orleans have benefited Lazarus House, a hospice established in response to the AIDS epidemic.
Coyle, Katy, and Nadiene Van Dyke. "Sex, Smashing, and Storyville in Turn-of-the-Century New Orleans: Reexamining the Continuum of Lesbian Sexuality. In Carryin' on in the Lesbian and Gay South. Edited by John Howard. New York: New York University Press, 1997.
Holditch, W. Kenneth. "William Spratling, William Faulkner, and Other Famous Creoles." Mississippi Quarterly 51, no. 3 (Summer 1998): 423–434.
——. "The Last Frontier of Bohemia: Tennessee Williams in New Orleans, 1938–1983." The Southern Quarterly 23, no. 2 (Winter 1985): 1–37.
Kirkwood, James. American Grotesque: An Account of the Clay Shaw-Jim Garrison Affair in the City of New Orleans. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970.
Mitchell, Reid. All on a Mardi Gras Day: Episodes in the History of New Orleans Carnival. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995.
Thomas, James W. Lyle Saxon: A Critical Biography. Birmingham, Ala.: Summa Publications, 1991.
Richard D. H. Clark
see alsocapote; truman; dunbar-nelson, alice; gentrification; williams, tennessee.
New Orleans (ôr´lēənz –lənz, ôrlēnz´), city (2006 pop. 187,525), coextensive with Orleans parish, SE La., between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, 107 mi (172 km) by water from the river mouth; founded 1718 by the sieur de Bienville, inc. 1805. It was built within a great bend of the Mississippi (and is therefore called the Crescent City) on subtropical lowlands, now protected from flooding by levees. The river is crossed there by the Algiers Bridge (completed 1991), the Huey P. Long Bridge (completed 1935), and the Greater New Orleans Bridge (completed 1958), which is one of the largest cantilever bridges in the country. Lake Pontchartrain is spanned by a 24-mi (39-km) double causeway (opened 1957).
The largest city in Louisiana and one of the largest in the South, New Orleans is a major U.S. port of entry. It has long been one of the busiest and most efficient international ports in the country. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are among its imports; exports include oil, petrochemicals, rice, cotton, and corn. Coastal traffic is heavy (the city is at the junction of the Intracoastal Waterway with the Mississippi River), and New Orleans is a major rail, highway, air, and river hub. It has an international airport. Its fine port helped make the New Orleans area one of the leading industrial centers in the South, although most of the larger industries were developed relatively recently. Food processing is a major enterprise. The region has shipbuilding and repair yards as well as factories manufacturing a wide variety of goods, including wood, paper, and metal products; foods and beverages; building stone; medical and building equipment; comunication systems; apparel; and aircraft parts. There is also printing and publishing. Many oil and chemical plants are located along the Mississippi River west of New Orleans.
Points of Interest
The picturesque French quarter (Vieux Carré) of the old city, north of broad Canal St., is a major tourist attraction. In the heart of the quarter is Jackson Square (the former Place d'Armes); fronting upon the square are the Cabildo (1795; formerly the government building, it now houses part of the Louisiana state museum); St. Louis Cathedral (1794); and other 18th- and 19th-century structures. Several world-famous restaurants, specializing in shrimp, oysters, and fish from nearby waters, uphold the New Orleans tradition of good living, and the annual Mardi Gras is perhaps the best-known festival in the United States.
Also adding to the color of the city are the many parks (including an aquarium), museums (including a voodoo museum, the National D-day Museum, and the New Orleans Museum of Art), and gardens; the Jazzland Theme Park is a few miles to the east. Chalmette, site of the 1815 battle of New Orleans, is to the east, and is part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (see National Parks and Monuments, table). The Louisiana Superdome, home of the National Football League's New Orleans Saints, is also the site of the annual Sugar Bowl football game. The National Basketball Association's Pelicans also play in the city. New Orleans is also an educational center, the seat of Dillard Univ., Loyola Univ., Tulane Univ., the Univ. of New Orleans, the Louisiana State Univ. Health Sciences Center, Southern Univ. at New Orleans, Our Lady of Holy Cross College, and several theological seminaries.
Early Years to the Twentieth Century
Soon after the sieur de Bienville had the city platted in 1718 it became an important port, and in 1722 it became the capital of the French colony. The transfer of Louisiana to Spain by the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762) was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris (1763). New Orleans—deeply involved in the struggle for control of the Mississippi—was returned to French hands only briefly before passing to the United States with the Louisiana Purchase (1803). From 1809 to 1810 some 10,000 refugees from the slave revolt in St. Dominigue (later Haiti) who had previously fled to Cuba emigrated to New Orleans, doubling the population. The tone of the city's life was dominated by Creole culture until late in the 19th cent., and the French influence is still seen today.
After Andrew Jackson's victory over the British at New Orleans (Jan. 8, 1815) had written a postscript to the War of 1812, the westward movement in the United States carried the queen city of the Mississippi to almost fabulous heights as a port and market for cotton and slaves. New Orleans then was stamped with its lasting reputation for glamour, extravagant living, elegance, and wickedness. Then as now African Americans were a large element in the population, and they contributed to the cosmopolitan flavor of the city. The quadroon balls—sumptuous affairs attended by rich white men and their quadroon mistresses—disappeared with the Civil War, but African folkways and stories of voodoo magic persisted into the 20th cent.
The golden era ended when in the Civil War the city fell (1862) to Admiral David G. Farragut and suffered under the occupation by Union troops led by General Benjamin F. Butler. New Orleans recovered from Reconstruction and passed through the end of the river-steamboat era to emerge as a modern city. Its past, however, is perhaps a greater factor than the warm damp climate in attracting visitors and artists and writers. The unusual life and history of the city have produced its own literature, including the works of George W. Cable, Lafcadio Hearn, Grace Elizabeth King, Charles Gayarré, and Alcée Fortier. Jazz had its origin in the late 19th cent. among the black musicians of New Orleans.
Modern New Orleans
The first attempts to integrate New Orleans public schools aroused controversy in 1960. Since then blacks have come to comprise the large majority of students and teachers in the school system, as many whites have moved to the suburbs. In 1969 Hurricane Camille swept through the region, resulting in many deaths and much property damage. Since the 1960s the population of the metropolitan area has risen at a rate slightly higher than that at which the population of the city has declined, reflecting the trend toward suburbanization that has left the inner city troubled by poverty.
Attempts have been made at urban revitalization; in the 1970s many new buildings were erected as the city benefited from high oil prices. In the 1980s, however, the economy suffered as oil prices fell and the state's energy industry floundered. In 1983 New Orleans hosted a world's fair, but the attention it attracted and its economic contribution fell far below expectations. Gambling was legalized in 1992, but the introduction of riverboat and casino gambling proved unsuccessful and failed to provide the anticipated impetus to the city's economy.
On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina brought extensive flooding to the city when several levees failed. Much of the city was evacuated before the storm but thousands remained, many of whom were stranded by the water for days; hundreds died. In the aftermath, many residents could not return because their homes had been destroyed and established new lives elsewhere, greatly reducing the city's population. A 2006 survey showed that the population was approximately 40% of what it was estimated to have been before the storm. In the aftermath of the flooding, an improved system of levees and flood walls, flood gates, and pumps was constructed at a cost of $14.5 billion.
See E. L. Tinker, Creole City (1953); T. K. Griffin, New Orleans (rev. ed. 1964); M. L. Christovich et al., comp., New Orleans Architecture (1971–72); L. V. Huber, New Orleans: A Pictorial History (1971); P. F. Lewis, New Orleans (1976); J. K. Nichols, New Orleans (1989); D. Brinkley, The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2006); R. Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans (2008); N. Sublette, The World That Made New Orleans (2008); L. N. Powell, The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans (2012).
NEW ORLEANS is located along a crescent-shaped portion of the Mississippi River, 120 miles from where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Bounded on the north by Lake Pontchartrain, much of the city lies below sea-level and is protected from flooding by natural and human-made levees. Between 1699 and 1762 the French who colonized Louisiana struggled with many problems and received only limited support from their government. However, they left an enduring imprint, reinforced by later French-speaking immigrants from Acadia and Saint Domingue. That legacy has remained evident in New Orleans. In 1718 Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, founded La Nouvelle Orléans. His assistant laid out streets in a gridiron pattern for the initial site, later known as the Vieux Carré. New Orleans became the capital of French Louisiana in 1722. French architecture, language, customs, and identity as well as the dominance of Roman Catholicism persisted across time. African slaves formed a large part of the colonial population and also shaped the city's culture.
By treaties in 1762 and 1763, the French government transferred most of Louisiana to Spain. Spanish governors generally proved to be effective administrators and operated in association with members of the city's government, the Cabildo. Spanish policies fostered an increase in the city's population of free people of color. During the latter part of the American Revolution, Governor Bernardo de Gálvez used New Orleans as a base for successful
military campaigns against British forts along the Gulf Coast. As farmers living in the western United States began shipping their produce down the Mississippi River, the port of New Orleans became vital to the new nation's economy. Alarmed by reports that Spain had ceded Louisiana back to France, U.S. president Thomas Jefferson sent ministers to Europe to engage in negotiations that led to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. At the Battle of New Orleans on 8 January 1815, General Andrew Jackson decisively defeated the British in the final military contest of the War of 1812, gaining national fame for himself and the city.
During the antebellum period, New Orleans thrived economically. Steamboat navigation and cotton production from Deep South plantations helped to make the city an entrepôt that briefly ranked as the nation's greatest export center. The New Orleans slave market became the country's largest. Slaves and free people of color sustained their own culture, particularly evident in gatherings at Congo Square. In addition to an influx of Anglo-Americans, Irish and German immigrants swelled the population. Repeated epidemics of yellow fever and cholera, however, killed thousands of residents. With traditions dating to the colonial period, Mardi Gras became an increasingly elaborate celebration. Friction between citizens of French ancestry and Anglo-Americans gave way to the combative nativism manifested by the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s.
Despite a large Unionist vote in the presidential election of 1860, New Orleans succumbed to secessionist hysteria following the victory of Abraham Lincoln. After an inept military defense of the Confederacy's largest port, the city was occupied by Union admiral David Farragut on 29 April 1862. Thereafter, General Benjamin Butler
earned local enmity for his forceful but effective management of the city. During Reconstruction, racial and political conflict erupted in a deadly race riot on 30 July 1866 and in the Battle of Liberty Place fought between the White League and city police on 14 September 1874.
In the late nineteenth century, New Orleans permitted its port facilities to deteriorate and its economy stagnated. The corrupt political leaders of the New Orleans Ring neglected basic public services. The completion of jetties at the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1879, however, enabled larger oceangoing vessels to dock at the city. Large numbers of Italian immigrants arrived, between 1890 and 1920, and the early twentieth century brought a resurgence of trade, particularly with South America. A community with a richand complex musical heritage, New Orleans promoted and nurtured early jazz. The city also housed the nation's most famous legalized vice district, Storyville. In the 1920s the Vieux Carré became a magnet for artists and writers, and a significant historic preservation movement began to emerge in the 1930s. As mayor from 1904 to 1920 and as boss of a powerful political machine, Martin Behrman brought many improvements in municipal services. His successors became ensnarled in political wars with governors Huey P. Long and Earl K. Long, periodically costing the city its powers of self-government.
World War II brought a surge in population and a booming economy, thanks to war-related industries, particularly shipbuilding. After the war, Mayor deLesseps Morrison initiated an ambitious building program, attracted new industries, and successfully promoted the city as an international port. Statewide support for segregation and weak local leadership produced the New Orleans school desegregation crisis of 1960, which branded the city as a stronghold of racism. In subsequent years whites in particular relocated to the suburbs, and by 2000 the city's population had shrunk to 484,674. In 1977 voters elected the city's first African American mayor, Ernest F. Morial. The completion of the Superdome in 1975, the hosting of a world's fair in 1984, and the opening of the Riverwalk shopping mall in 1986 and the Aquarium of the Americas in 1990 reflected a renewed vitality as well as an emphasis on tourism. Celebrated restaurants, medical facilities, and educational institutions also constitute important attractions of the Crescent City.
Din, Gilbert C., and John E. Harkins. The New Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana's First City Government, 1769–1803. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996.
Haas, Edward F. DeLesseps S. Morrison and the Image of Reform: New Orleans Politics, 1946–1961. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974.
Hirsch, Arnold R., and Joseph Logsdon, eds. Creole New Orleans: Race and and Americanization. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992.
Ingersoll, Thomas N. Mammon and Manon in Early New Orleans: The First Slave Society in the Deep South, 1718–1819. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999.
Jackson, Joy J. New Orleans in the Gilded Age: Politics and Urban Progress, 1880–1896. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969.
Tyler, Pamela. Silk Stockings and Ballot Boxes: Women and Politics in New Orleans, 1920–1963. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996.
New Orleans: History
New Orleans: History
French Settlers Leave Their Mark
The first Europeans known to travel past the site of New Orleans were followers of Hernando Cortez, a Spanish soldier of fortune who died on the banks of the Mississippi River in 1543. One hundred forty years later French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle, led an expedition from Canada that traced the Mississippi, called "Father of Waters," as far as the Gulf of Mexico, and boldly claimed all land between the Alleghenies and Rockies for his sovereign, France's Louis XIV. La Salle was assassinated before he could direct the building of a settlement in the land he called "Louisiane." In 1718 Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, a founder of outposts in what are now Biloxi, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama, placed a cross at a point where the Mississippi curved near Lake Pontchartrain to mark the site for a new settlement. The proposed town was named for the Duc d'Orleans, who was governing France during Louis XV's childhood.
To establish a population in the new settlement, France sent prisoners, slaves, and bonded servants. An unscrupulous speculator, John Law, beguiled the Duc d'Orleans into giving him a 25-year charter to exploit the new territory and managed to lure a few Europeans across the seas with tales of nearby gold. The men who arrived found only a village of cyprus huts and criminals surrounded by swamp, disease, and hostile Native American tribes. Under threat of a revolt, France then sent "wives" for the colonists: about ninety women from Paris jails, a wild group chaperoned by Ursuline nuns until they were married. Later, poor girls of good reputation were also recruited to bring the settlement a core of respectability, but by then the ribald side of New Orleans's lifestyle had been established. Swamp conditions were hard on its inhabitants, yet the settlement grew into a French crown colony and soon served as territorial capital.
Origins of Creoles and Cajuns
In 1762 New Orleans citizens suddenly found themselves subjects of Charles III of Spain; France's Louis XV had paid a debt to his Spanish cousin by giving away Louisiana. The thoroughly French colony drove out the Spanish commissioner sent to govern them. In the summer of 1763, 22 Spanish warships and 3,000 troops arrived to restore order and install another governor, this time without provoking open opposition. Descendants of these early French-Spanish colonial times are known as Creoles. French-speaking families also began emigrating from Canada's maritime region, Acadia—now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick—to flee British occupation. Referred to as Acadians, and eventually Cajuns, they found sanctuary in New Orleans and in the bayous of the wide Mississippi Delta not far from the city.
In 1788 and 1794 devastating fires destroyed most of the buildings in New Orleans's French Quarter, or Vieux Carre (Old Square); these were replaced by structures of a decidedly Spanish nature. About the same time a process for making granulated sugar made sugar cane an important cash crop in a market soon dominated by cotton. When Spain transferred Louisiana back to France in 1803, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson adroitly bought the territory for $15 million. New Orleans was incorporated two years later. The city was unsuccessfully attacked by British forces during the War of 1812; that same year the first steamboat arrived from Natchez, and Louisiana became a state. The years following the Louisiana Purchase saw rapid development and swift growth in the city's slave and free population. United States and foreign interests invested in the expanding port and immigration increased.
City Boasts Multicultural Neighborhoods
Americans settling in nearby Faubourg Ste. Marie, the present business district, developed a suburb very different in nature from the old French Quarter. Other individualistic neighborhoods developed, including the Irish Channel, a rowdy waterfront area; Bucktown, a one-street fishing village on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Jefferson Parish; and the wealthy residential Garden District.
The city's prosperity depended heavily on slave labor, however, and economic threats to this trade made New Orleans intensely pro-Confederate in the Civil War. After the war, reconstruction in New Orleans was hampered by rivalry between ethnic and economic factions, yet eventually, the city emerged as a railroad and shipping center. New Orleans survived a yellow fever and cholera outbreak in 1853 in which nearly 11,000 people died; a malaria outbreak in 1871; a yellow fever outbreak in 1878 in which more than 4,000 people died; a severe hurricane in 1915; and an influenza epidemic in 1918 in which 35,000 people died statewide.
Jazz, considered the unique American music idiom, developed in New Orleans at the beginning of the twentieth century while the city continued to celebrate its cultural origins with the phenomenally successful Mardi Gras and world-renowned cuisine. Tourists began to flock to the city to experience its heralded celebrations and unique neighborhoods. While crime troubled the city in later years of the twentieth century—a blight the city has continued to fight against—New Orleans fiercely protects its legendary heritage. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings nestle in the shadow of sleek modern towers, convention centers, and shopping facilities, part of the mix of business, history, and good times that characterizes the city's charm.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, a downtown rebirth was on the minds of city planners. "The Downtown Revival!," a multi-million dollar project that includes a long list of improvements to New Orleans' entire downtown area, is aimed at restoring the downtown and Canal Street for the millions of tourists that flock to the city each year. Today's New Orleans is a successful blend of southern historical charm and modern tourist mecca.
Historical Information: Musee Conti, 917 Conti Street, New Orleans, LA 70112; telephone (504)525-2605; (800)233-5405
New Orleans: Education and Research
New Orleans: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
Public schools in the New Orleans area are noted for their dedication to excellence. For instance, the Ben Franklin public high school produces a high number of National Merit scholars among its college-bound graduates, while the public New Orleans Center for Creative Arts is designed to provide special instruction to artistically gifted students.
The following is a summary of data regarding New Orleans public schools as of the 2002–2003 school year.
Total enrollment: 70,246
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 78
junior high/middle schools: 35
senior high schools: 26
Student/teacher ratio: Average 16.6:1 (2002–2003)
Funding per pupil: $6,501
New Orleans area public elementary and secondary schools are supplemented by 67 private schools. Catholic schools comprise the majority of the area's private schools, which also include other church-affiliated, non-denominational schools and special schools, including the nationally acclaimed Isidore Newman School.
Public Schools Information: New Orleans Public Schools, 4300 Almonaster Ave., New Orleans, LA 70126; telephone (504)942-3531
Colleges and Universities
The New Orleans region supports eight four-year colleges and universities and two 2-year community colleges. Those in New Orleans include the University of New Orleans; Tulane University, a private nonprofit institution that includes Sophie Newcomb College for Women; Louisiana State University Medical Center, offering medical and dental education; Dil-lard University, one of the oldest predominantly African American institutions in the country; Loyola University; Our Lady of Holy Cross College; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Xavier University of Louisiana; and a branch of Southern Louisiana University, as well as several two-year colleges and vocational-technical schools.
Libraries and Research Centers
The New Orleans Public Library, consisting of the Main Library and 12 branches, numbers nearly one million books in its collection, in addition to recordings, tapes, and films. It maintains the New Orleans City Archives as well as The Louisiana Division located on the third floor of the Main Library. The Division collects, through purchase and gift, all types of printed, manuscript, graphic, and oral resources relating to the study of Louisiana and its citizens. Other areas of interest include the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico, and the South. Included are books by or about Louisianians; city, regional, and state documents; manuscripts, maps, newspapers, periodicals, microfilms, photographs, slides, motion pictures, sound recordings, video tapes, postcards, and ephemera of every sort. The Genealogy Collection contains books, periodicals, microfilms, and CDROMs with emphasis on the Southeast United States, Nova Scotia, France, and Spain. The library also hosts a literacy program and a new African American Resource Center.
New Orleans also boasts several special libraries and collections. For instance, the W. R. Hogan Archive of New Orleans Jazz is housed by Tulane University's library. The Louisiana State Museum Historical Center library maintains a collection of French and Spanish colonial documents, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century maps, and nineteenth-century personal manuscripts. A 20,000-volume library at the World Trade Center of New Orleans collects works on import and export trade, travel, international relations, economics, and transportation.
Louisiana State University Medical Center conducts research on a variety of medical topics, such as oncology, cystic fibrosis, human development, hearing, eye diseases, and arteriosclerosis. The Louisiana Business and Technology Center at LSU is the "Best Of The Class," and is in the Top 10 Technology Incubators in the United States. It placed first in terms of average revenue growth in its client companies. Nearly 20 research centers at Tulane University conduct research on such topics as AIDS, politics, Mesoamerican ecology, and Latin America. Tulane University received a National Institutes of Health grant to build an $18 million biosafety lab specializing in the development of treatments and vaccines for emerging infectious diseases. The state-of-the-art facility is expected to have a global impact. The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University pursues research and maintains a library and archives in such subject areas as African American history and culture, ethnic minorities of the United States, civil rights, abolitionism, and Protestant denominations.
The Audubon Nature Institute's Center for Research of Endangered Species conducts research programs on reproductive physiology, endocrinology, genetics, embryo transfer, and others in hopes of ensuring survival of endangered species.
Public Library Information: New Orleans Public Library, 219 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70112; telephone (504)529-READ; fax (504)596-2609