United States

History of New Orleans

Brief History of New Orleans Abridged

We delve into the brief history of New Orleans, in a nutshell.

The New Orleans Foundation

In 1682 French explorer Robert de la Salle explored the Mississippi River and claimed Louisiana for France. In 1718 Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville founded the great city of La Nouvelle-Orléans. It was named in honor of the Duke of Orleans. New Orleans was built in a strategic position to defend the entrance to the Mississippi River.

The first small settlement was devastated by a hurricane in 1721, but the engineer Adrien de Pauger laid out a new city in the form of a grid. It is now the French Quarter. Meanwhile, the first slaves arrived in New Orleans in 1720. Then, in 1722, New Orleans became the capital of Louisiana.

At first, the French, Germans, and Swiss were persuaded to emigrate to New Orleans. However, the flow of immigrants soon slowed down, so the convicts were sent there. Then, in 1728, the Ursuline nuns arrived. New Orleans grew slowly.

Then, in 1756, came the Seven Years’ War. When it was over in 1763 the French king surrendered Louisiana to Spain. Under Spanish rule, New Orleans continued to grow, although it suffered serious fires in 1788 and 1794. However, in 1796 a sugar industry began in New Orleans.

New Orleans in the 19th century

In 1800 Spain returned Louisiana to France. In 1803 Napoleon sold it to the United States, and it was renamed New Orleans. In 1812 Louisiana was admitted to the union. The same year, 1812, the first steamboat arrived in New Orleans. On January 8, 1815, during the War of 1812, British troops attempted to take New Orleans but were defeated and forced to retreat.

After the war, the population of New Orleans grew rapidly. Steamboats made trade along the Mississippi much faster, and New Orleans prospered as a result. In 1840 it was the second largest port in the United States. However, in the 1830s a separate American section of the French Quarter was built.

In 1840 New Orleans was the fourth largest city in the United States. French, German, and Irish immigrants flocked to the city. By 1860 New Orleans had a population of 168,000. The huge increase in population occurred despite outbreaks of yellow fever.

The worst outbreak of 1853 killed more than 10% of the population. There was another yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans in 1878. Meanwhile, the first Jewish synagogue was built in New Orleans in 1828.

In 1861 Louisiana ceded from the Union. However, on May 1, 1862, Union forces occupied New Orleans and held it for the remainder of the American Civil War. After the war, New Orleans suffered from animosity between the races.

On July 30, 1866, a race riot broke out at the Mechanics Institute. In September 1874 an organization called the White League fought with the police in New Orleans and troops were sent to restore order. The troops were withdrawn in 1877.

In 1896 a man named Homer Plessy challenged Louisiana’s segregation laws. However, the Supreme Court upheld the principle of segregation.

Meanwhile, in the late 19th century, a new form of music called jazz began in New Orleans.

New Orleans in the 20th century

In 1905 yellow fever struck again, but this time people knew about the role of mosquitoes in spreading the disease. As a result, all stagnant water was drained, screened or oiled. It was the end of the old threat of yellow fever in New Orleans.

During the 1930s New Orleans, like the rest of the nation, suffered in the Depression. However, prosperity returned during World War II. Shipyards in New Orleans kept busy.

In the late 20th century, tourism became a major industry in New Orleans. The New Orleans Historical Voodoo Museum was founded in 1972. The Superdome opened in 1975. Then, in 1978, Ernest N. Morial became the first African-American mayor of New Orleans.

His son Marc Morial was elected mayor in 1994. He was re-elected in 1998. Meanwhile, in 1984, New Orleans hosted the Louisiana World’s Fair. However, in 1995, New Orleans suffered severe flooding.

New Orleans today

In August 2005, New Orleans suffered massive damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Much of the city was flooded. However, New Orleans gradually recovered from the disaster. People slowly returned to the city, and in 2006 the Superdome reopened.

Today tourism in New Orleans is thriving. New Orleans also remains a very busy and important port. In 2017 the population of New Orleans was 393,000.

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