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New Orleans, Louisiana
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New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana, United States of America. By law and government, the city of New Orleans and the parish of Orleans Parish are one and the same 6.

It is an industrial and distribution center, a major seaport, and known for its rich cultural heritage, especially its music and cuisine. The city is on the banks of the Mississippi River about 100 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico at 30.07°N, 89.93°W.

As of the 2000 census, the population of the city is 484,674. This figure does not include the suburbs in neighboring Jefferson Parish, Saint Bernard and other nearby communities; the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of about one million.

In addition to the urban areas of the city, New Orleans includes undeveloped wetland, especially in the east. Some communities within the Orleans Parish have historically had separate identities from the city New Orleans, such as Irish Bayou. Algiers, Louisiana was a separate city through 1870. As soon as Algiers became a part of New Orleans, the Orleans Parish ceased being separate from the city of New Orleans.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Today
3 Airport
4 Celebrations
5 Higher education
6 Sports
7 Divisions and Neighborhoods
8 New Orleanians
9 Tourism
10 Geography
11 Demographics
12 External links


Colonial Era

New Orleans was founded by the
French under the direction of Jean Baptiste Lemoyne, Sieur de Bienville, in 1718. The site was selected as a rare bit of naturally higher ground along the flood-prone banks of the lower Mississippi, as well as being adjacent to a Native American trading route and portage between the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain via the Bayou St. John (formerly known to the natives as Bayou Choupique). A community of French fur trappers and traders had existed along the bayou (in what is now Mid-City New Orleans) for at least a decade before the official founding of the city. Nouvelle Orleans became the capital of French Louisiana in 1722, replacing Biloxi in that role.

In 1763 the colony was ceded to the Spanish Empire as a secret provision of the Treaty of Fontainebleau, but no Spanish governor came to take control until 1766. Some of the early French settlers were never quite happy with Spanish rule, and repeatedly petitioned to be returned to French control. A fire destroyed 856 buildings in the city on March 21, 1788, and another destroyed 212 buildings in December of 1794; after this brick replaced wood as the main building material.

The population of New Orleans also suffered from epidemics of yellow fever, malaria, and smallpox, which would periodically return throughout the 19th century until the successful supression of the city's final outbreak of yellow fever in 1905. In 1795 Spain granted the United States "Right of Deposit" in New Orleans, allowing Americans to use the city's port facilities. Louisiana reverted to French control in 1801 after Napoleon's conquest of Spain, but in 1803 Napoleon sold Louisiana (which at the time also included the territory which are now several other states) to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. At this time the city of New Orleans had a population of about 10,000 people.

19th Century

From early days it was noted for its cosmopolitan polyglot population and mixture of cultures. The city grew rapidly, with influxes of Americans, French and Creole French, many of the latter fleeing from the revolution in Haiti. During the War of 1812 the British sent a force to try to conquer the city, but they were defeated by forces led by Andrew Jackson some miles down river from the city at Chalmette, Louisiana on January 8, 1815 (commonly known as the Battle of New Orleans).

The population of the city doubled in the 1830s and by 1840, the city's population was around 102,000, fourth largest in the U.S, the largest city away from the Atlantic seaboard, as well as the largest in the South.

New Orleans was the capital of the state of Louisiana until 1849, then again from 1865 to 1880. As a principal port it had a leading role in the slave trade, while at the same time having North America's largest community of free persons of color. Early in the American Civil War it was captured by the Union without a battle, and hence was spared the destruction suffered by many other cities of the American South. It retains a historical flavor with a wealth of 19th century structures far beyond the early colonial city boundaries of the French Quarter. The city hosted the 1884 World's Fair, called the World Cotton Centennial. An important attraction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the famous red light district called Storyville.

20th Century

Much of the city is located below sea level and is bordered by the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, so the city is surrounded by levees. Until the early 20th century, construction was largely limited to the slightly higher ground along old natural river levees and bayous, since much of the rest of the land was swampy and subject to frequent flooding. This gave the 19th century city the shape of a crescent along a bend of the Mississippi, the origin of the nickname The Crescent City. In the 1910s engineer and inventor A. Baldwin Wood enacted his ambitious plan to drain the city, including large pumps of his own design which are still used when heavy rains hit the city. Wood's pumps and drainage allowed the city to expand greatly in area.

Canal Street, looking away from the river, 1920s

In the 1920s an effort to "modernize" the look of the city removed the old cast-iron balconies from Canal Street, the city's commercial hub. In the 1960s another "modernization" effort replaced the Canal Streetcar Line with busses. Both of these moves came to be regarded as mistakes long after the fact, and the streetcars returned to a portion of Canal Street at the end of the 1990s, and construction to restore the entire line was completed in April of 2004.

The suburb of Metairie, Louisiana saw great growth in the 2nd half of the 20th century.

While long one of the USA's most visited cities, tourism boomed in the last quarter of the 20th century, becoming a major force in the local economy. Areas of the French Quarter and Central Business District which were long oriented towards local residential and business uses switched to largely catering to the tourist industry.

A century after the Cotton Centennial Exhibition, New Orleans hosted another World's Fair, the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition.

A view across Uptown New Orleans, with the Central Business District in the background, 1990s


New Orleans is well known for its creole culture and the persistence of Voodoo by a few of its residents, as well as for its music, food, architecture and good times.

New Orleans is usually pronounced by locals "Noo Or-lins" "N'Awlins," or "Noo OR-lee-anns". The distinctive local accent is unlike either Cajun or the stereotypical Southern accent so often misportrayed by film and television actors. The City has the nicknames the Crescent City the Big Easy, and the City that Care Forgot. Many visitors consider New Orleans' motto to be "Laissez les bontemps rouler", or, "Let the good times roll."

Favorite tourist scenes in New Orleans include the French Quarter (known locally as "the Quarter"), which dates from the French and Spanish eras and is bounded by the Mississippi River and Rampart Street, Canal Street and Esplanade Ave. A popular visiting spot in the quarter is the French Market (including the Café du Monde, famous for café au lait and beignets). The Natchez, an authentic steamboat with a calliope tours the Mississippi twice daily.

There are three active streetcar lines, the Riverfront line (also known as the Ladies in Red since the cars are painted red) which runs parallel to the river from Canal Street through the French Quarter, the St. Charles line (green cars, formerly connecting New Orleans with the then independent suburb of Carrollton), and the recently restored Canal Street line (which uses the Riverfront line tracks from Esplanade Street to Canal Street, then branches off down Canal Street and ends at City Park Avenue with a spur running from the intersection of Canal and Claiborne Avenue to the entrance of City Park at Esplanade). The city is also the scene of the Tennessee Williams play "A Streetcar Named Desire." The streetcar line to Desire Street became a bus line in 1948, but will be restored as a light rail line.

St. Charles Avenue is home to Tulane and Loyola Universities; many stately 19th century mansions; and Audubon Park and Audubon Zoo.

Because of the high water table, New Orleans cemeteries mostly use above ground crypts rather than underground burial. New Orleans created its own spin on the old tradition of military brass band funerals; traditional New Orleans funerals with music feature sad music (mostly dirges and hymns) on the way to the cemetery and happy music (hot jazz) on the way back. Such traditional musical funerals still takes place when a local musician, a member of a club, krewe, or benevolent society, or a noted dignitary has passed. Until the 1990s most locals preferred to call these "funerals with music", but out of town visitors have long dubbed them "jazz funerals". Younger bands, especially those based in the Treme neighborhood, have embraced the term and now have funerals featuring only jazz music.

New Orleans has always been a center for music with its intertwined European, Latin American, and African-American cultures. The city engendered jazz with its brass bands. Decades later it was home to a distinctive brand of rhythm and blues that contributed greatly to the growth of rock and roll. In addition, the nearby countryside is the home of Cajun music, Zydeco music and Delta blues.

The city is also famous for its food. Specialties include Po'boy and Muffaletta sandwiches; Gulf oysters and other seafoods; etoufee, jambalaya, gumbo and other Creole dishes; and the Monday evening favorite of red beans and rice. (Louis Armstrong often signed his letters, "red beans and ricely yours".)


The city is served by Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, which is located near Kenner.


New Orleans' most famous celebration is its Carnival Season. The Carnival season is often known (especially by out-of-towners) by the name of the last and biggest day, Mardi Gras (literally, "Fat Tuesday"), which is held just before the beginning of the Christian liturgical season of Lent. Mardi Gras celebrations include parades and floats; participants toss strings of cheap colorful beads and doubloons to the crowds. The Mardi Gras season is kicked off with the only parade allowed through the French Quarter (Vieux Carre), a walking parade aptly named Krewe du Vieux. Main article: New Orleans Mardi Gras.

The Louisiana Jazz & Heritage Festival early each summer is the other time when all the city's hotels are usually filled to capacity.

Higher education

New Orleans is home to Tulane University, Loyola University New Orleans, Dillard University, Xavier University of Louisiana, the University of New Orleans, and Delgado Community College.


New Orleans is the home of the New Orleans Saints National Football League team. The city also has an Arena Football League team, the New Orleans VooDoo, owned by the Saints' owner. The New Orleans Zephyrs minor league baseball team plays in adjacent Metairie. The New Orleans Hornets of the National Basketball Association moved to the city starting in the 2002-2003 season; they were previously based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Historical teams included the New Orleans Pelicans baseball team (1887 - 1959), the New Orleans Night of the Arena Football League (1991 - 1992), and the New Orleans Brass ice hockey team (1997 - 2003). Former basketball teams were the New Orleans Buccaneers (c. 1967-1970), and the New Orleans Jazz (1974 - 1980) which became the Utah Jazz.

Divisions and Neighborhoods

Public transport amongst the neighborhoods is managed by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority ("RTA").

Other significant areas and sites in the city include:

New Orleanians

New Orleanians who attained note or fame have included:
Notable non-native residents have included:


New Orleans is one of the most visited cities in the United States. The city's colorful Carnival celebrations during the pre-Lenten season, centered on the French Quarter, draw particularly large crowds. The Sugar Bowl game, played in early January, also is a major tourist attraction.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 907.0 km² (350.2 mi²). 467.6 km² (180.6 mi²) of it is land and 439.4 km² (169.7 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 48.45% water.


As of the census of 2000, there are 484,674 people, 188,251 households, and 112,950 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,036.4/km² (2,684.3/mi²). There are 215,091 housing units at an average density of 459.9/km² (1,191.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 28.05% Caucasian, 67.25% African American, 0.20% Native American, 2.26% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. 3.06% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 188,251 households out of which 29.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.8% are married couples living together, 24.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 40.0% are non-families. 33.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.48 and the average family size is 3.23.

In the city the population is spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 88.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 83.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $27,133, and the median income for a family is $32,338. Males have a median income of $30,862 versus $23,768 for females. The per capita income for the city is $17,258. 27.9% of the population and 23.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 40.3% are under the age of 18 and 19.3% are 65 or older.

External links

Regions of Louisiana
Greater New Orleans
Largest Cities
Alexandria - Baton Rouge - Bossier City - Kenner - Lafayette - Lake Charles - Monroe - New Iberia - New Orleans - Shreveport
Acadia - Allen - Ascension - Assumption - Avoyelles - Beauregard - Bienville - Bossier - Caddo - Calcasieu - Caldwell - Cameron - Catahoula - Claiborne - Concordia - De Soto - East Baton Rouge - East Carroll - East Feliciana - Evangeline - Franklin - Grant - Iberia - Iberville - Jackson - Jefferson - Jefferson Davis - La Salle - Lafayette - Lafourche - Lincoln - Livingston - Madison - Morehouse - Natchitoches - Orleans - Ouachita - Plaquemines - Pointe Coupee - Rapides - Red River - Richland - Sabine - St. Bernard - St. Charles - St. Helena - St. James - St. John the Baptist - St. Landry - St. Martin - St. Mary - St. Tammany - Tangipahoa - Tensas - Terrebonne - Union - Vermilion - Vernon - Washington - Webster - West Baton Rouge - West Carroll - West Feliciana - Winn -