May 7, 1718: La Nouvelle-Orléans is founded. We know the city as New Orleans. It should be noted that Joan of Arc ended the Siege of Orléans on this same day in 1429. It was named for Philip II, Duke of Orléans by its European founder Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. The site was selected because it was relatively high ground on the flood-prone lower Mississippi delta and because it was next to the trade route between the River and Lake Pontchartrain. It was intended to be an important colonial city for the French founders and by 1722 it became the capital of French Louisiana, replacing Biloxi. In September of 1722, the city was struck by a hurricane, which destroyed most of the structures.
The French remained in control until 1763 and at that time the Spanish took over. Then in 1802, the French once again were in charge. The US bought New Orleans along with most of the midwest in the Louisiana Purchase of 1804. In 1861, with the secession of the Southern States, it was part of the Republic of Louisiana and then soon after part of the Confederate States of America. In 1862, it once again was part of the United States. The area was first settled by the unsavory riffraff and in 1721 was described as “wretched hovels in a malarious wet thicket of willows and dwarf palmettos, infested by serpents and alligators.”
Today, it is also called The Big Easy and NOLA and the city has many distinguishing features. The French quarter is a remnant from her founding days and the gridwork street pattern was enforced after the first hurricane took out so much real estate. The City and Parish cover 350 square miles with almost half of it water (170 square miles). The metro area covers 3,755 square miles. Still marshy wetland, the elevation of the city is below sea level in places and highest point is only 20 feet above sea level. There are about 375,000 people living in the city itself and a population of 1.2 million call the metro area home. Mitch Landrieu is the current mayor.
As envisioned centuries ago, the city remains an important port which accounts for much of the local economy. It is the sixth largest port in the world based on volume of cargo handled and 13th largest based on cargo value. It also has the longest wharf in the world, measuring 2.01 miles which can accommodate 15 vessels at one time. Tourism is another economy sector and one of the big draws each year is the Mardi Gras parade – also called Carnival. The season officially begins on January 6, the Epiphany, and ends with the parade on the Tuesday before Lent. The region is famous for jazz and was the home of many famous musicians. The New Orleans Saints, 2009 Super Bowl winners, call NOLA home, as well.
New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin. – Mark Twain
Mardi Gras is not a parade. Mardi Gras is not girls flashing on French Quarter balconies. Mardi Gras is not an alcoholic binge. – Chris Rose
If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying of boredom. -Judy Deck
Madame Lily Devalier always asked “Where are you?” in a way that insinuated that there were only two places on earth one could be: New Orleans and somewhere ridiculous. – Tom Robbins
Also on this day: US Patent # 203,517 – In 1878 a US patent is granted for a fire escape ladder.
Lusitania – In 1915, a German u-boat sank the RMS Lusitania.
Out of the Ashes – In 1946, Japan’s new electronics company formed.
American Medical Association – In 1847, the AMA was founded.