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“Giants of Jazz: Art…

Aug 19 - Dec 17, 2017
This spring, art and music converge as The Historic New Orleans Collection… more

Amazing Scavenger…

Aug 19, 2017 - Jul 03, 2027
Turn New Orleans into a giant game board with this fun scavenger hunt… more

Backyard Grooves

Aug 19, 2017 - Jan 10, 2026
In The Voodoo Garden, All Ages.   more

Bridal Show at The…

Aug 19 - 19, 2017
The Sugar Mill Pavillion anxiously awais you and your guests! We invite you to… more

Chicken on the Bone…

Aug 19 - Dec 6, 2017
Want to enjoy some nightlife? No trip to New Orleans is complete if you have… more

COOLinary New Orleans…

Aug 19 - 31, 2017
It is going to be a delicious summer!  During the month of August, enjoy… more

Dim Sum Brunch at…

Aug 19, 2017
Sister to Gulotta’s acclaimed MOPHO, Maypop located in downtown’s… more

Double Dose

Aug 19, 2017 - Jan 10, 2026
ActionActionReaction and friends keep the dance floor energized with mixes of… more

FestiGals

Aug 19, 2017
FestiGals hosts New Orleans Women's Weekend Experience - a celebration of women… more

Helen Brett Jewelry…

Aug 19 - 22, 2017
The oldest and largest premier jewelry, accessories and merchandise trade show… more

House of Blues 4th…

Aug 19 - 19, 2017
Join us at the House of Blues for the  4th annual BREWSIANA!  Their… more

Lighthouse Glow Run

Aug 19 - 19, 2017
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation will hold the Lighthouse Glow Run on… more

Magazine St. Art…

Aug 19, 2017
Magazine St. Art Market is a unique way to experience the best of our local… more

New Orleans Museum…

Aug 19 - 31, 2017
Returning this summer is New Orleans Museum Month, August 1-31, where being a… more

New Orleans Museum of…

Aug 19 - Oct 8, 2017
Jim Steg (American, 1922 -2001) was the most influential printmaker to be based… more

New Orleans Museum of…

Aug 19 - Oct 1, 2017
In celebration of beloved chef, civil rights activist, and art collector Leah… more

New Orleans Museum of…

Aug 19 - Sep 3, 2017
Pride of Place: The Making of Contemporary Art in New Orleans showcases… more

New Orleans Museum of…

Aug 19 - Oct 8, 2017
Paintings from throughout Scully's career are presented with a selection of… more

Photography workshop…

Aug 19 - 19, 2017
Pulling inspiration and reflection from the exhibitions Troubled Waters and The… more

Storyville: Madams…

Aug 19 - Dec 9, 2017
Storyville: Madams and Music revives the sights and sounds of New Orleans's… more

“Giants of Jazz: Art…

Aug 19 - Dec 17, 2017
This spring, art and music converge as The Historic New Orleans Collection… more

New Orleans History

History

The history of New Orleans reads like a fantastic novel. Here are a few of the highlights to help you better understand the historical dynamics that have shaped this utterly unique city.

French Founders: 1718

In 1718, the Frenchman Sieur de Bienville founded a strategic port city five feet below sea level, near the juncture of the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. The new city, or ville, was named La nouvelle Orleans for Philippe, Duc d'Orleans, and centered around the Place d'Armes (later to be known as Jackson Square). The original city was confined to the area we now call the French Quarter or Vieux Carre (Old Square).

Spanish Rule: 1762-1801

In 1762, either because he lost a bet or because the royal coffers were exhausted, Louis XV gave Louisiana to his Spanish cousin, King Charles III. Spanish rule was relatively short -- lasting until 1801 -- but Spain would leave a lasting imprint on the city.

In 1788, the city went up in flames, incinerating over 800 buildings. New Orleans was still recovering when a second fire in 1794 destroyed 200 structures. One of the only French structures to survive these fires is the Old Ursuline Convent (1100 Chartres). Completed in 1752, it is the oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley. This means that most of the buildings you see in the French Quarter were actually constructed by the Spanish and feature distinctly Spanish architectural elements.

Louisiana Purchase: 1803

In 1801 Louisiana ceded back to France, but only two years later Napoleon sold the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, effectively doubling the size of the U.S.A. At a cost of only $15 million, it was considered one of the greatest real estate bargains in history.

The American Sector and Haitian Immigration

After the Louisiana Purchase, Americans arrived en masse as did European immigrants from Germany, Ireland and Sicily.

Tension existed between the European Creoles concentrated in the French Quarter and the new American residents. As a result, the Americans settled across Canal Street in what was known then as the American Sector, known today as The Central Business District. The two factions skirmished often, and the Canal Street median became a neutral area where the two groups could come together to do business without invading the other's territory. Ever since, all city medians have been called neutral grounds.

And the Haitian Revolution of 1804 meant that for years to come thousands of Afro-Caribbean descent would come to call New Orleans home. These immigrants further diversified the population of New Orleans and made colorful contributions to the city's culture.

The War of 1812 and The Battle of New Orleans

The war of 1812 culminated in the Battle of New Orleans three years after the war began. In January of 1815, 8,000 British troops were poised to attack and overtake the City of New Orleans. The American forces lead by General Andrew Jackson were grossly outnumbered. Due to the circumstances an unusual union formed - the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte and his men joined the American forces to defend New Orleans. On January 8, a polyglot band of 4,000 militia, frontiersmen, former Haitian slaves and Lafitte's pirates defeated the British at  Chalmette Battlefield, just a few miles east of the French Quarter. The battlefield remains a place worthy of a visit.

The New Paris

By the mid-1800s, the city in the bend of the river became the fourth largest in the U.S. and one of the richest, dazzling visitors with chic Parisian couture, fabulous restaurants and sophisticated culture.

Society centered around the French Opera House, where professional opera and theatre companies played to full houses. In fact, opera was performed in New Orleans seven years before the Louisiana Purchase, and more than 400 operas premiered in the Crescent City during the l9th century.

A Cultural Gumbo

Under French, Spanish and American flags, Creole society coalesced as Islanders, West Africans, slaves, free people of color and indentured servants poured into the city along with a mix of French and Spanish aristocrats, merchants, farmers, soldiers, freed prisoners and nuns.

New Orleans was, for its time, a permissive society that resulted an intermingling of peoples unseen in other communities, and it is New Orleans' diverse heritage that is the driving force behind this unique and exotic city. The contributions of Africans, Caribbean peoples, the French, Spanish, Germans, Irish, Sicilians and more created a society unlike any other.

Over the years New Orleans has had a powerful influence on American and global culture. Our cuisine is known across the world and rock and roll was born from the sounds of our sultry jazz. Literary giants from Tennessee Williams to William Faulkner have flocked to the city for inspiration. Our food, music and cultural practices will capture your imagination and your heart. Diversity, creativity and celebration are at the core of the New Orleans way of life. All are welcome - the more ingredients, the more we can feed.

For more information on New Orleans history visit one of our many museums or take a tour with one of our knowledgeable guides.