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New Orleans

It is an industrial and distribution center, a major seaport, and known for its rich cultural heritage, especially its music and cuisine.

New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana, United States of America. 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 1 million.

By law and government, the city of New Orleans and the parish of Orleans are one and the same.


Colonial Era

New Orleans was founded by the French under the direction of Jean Baptiste Lemoyne, Sieur de Bienville, in 1718 and became the capital of French Louisiana in 1722.

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 suppression 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 (See). At this time the city of New Orleans had a population of about 10,000 people.

New Orleans in the 19th Century.

From early days it was noted for its cosmopolitan polyglot population and mixture of cultures. The city grew rapidly, with influxes of both Americans and 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 the 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).

New Orleans was the capital of the state of Louisiana until 1849, then again from 1865 to 1880. In the early 19th century it became the United States' largest city away from the Atlantic seaboard, as well as the largest in the South.

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.

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