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The History of New Orleans: From Its Founding to Today

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Founding of New Orleans

New Orleans, a city located in the southern United States, has a rich and diverse history spanning several centuries. Founded by the French in 1718, the city has been shaped by a variety of cultures, including Native American, African, Spanish, and French, among others. 

Over time, New Orleans has played an important role in the development of the United States, serving as a crucial port for commerce and trade, and playing a significant role in the nation’s music, food, and cultural traditions. However, the city has also faced many challenges, including devastating natural disasters and social inequalities, which have had a lasting impact on its residents and culture. Despite these challenges, New Orleans has persevered as a dynamic and tough city with an interesting and extraordinary history. 


history of New Orleans early 1700s map

New Orleans was a bustling native trading hub even before it became a colony for European settlers. In 1718, it was founded by French colonist Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and later became the capital of the French Colony of Louisiana in 1723. 

In 1762, France transferred ownership of Louisiana to Spain in order to avoid it falling under British control. Shortly after in 1788 and 1794, destructive fires swept through the city and caused significant damage to its buildings. Following the fires, the Spanish initiated the rebuilding of the city, leaving a lasting architectural legacy that can still be observed in today’s French Quarter.  


History of New Orleans 1800s picture of the Louisiana Purchase

In 1803, Louisiana and its surrounding territories were bought by the United States in the sum of $15,000,000 in what was known as the Louisiana Purchase. Consequently, a bustling, English-speaking American sector rapidly expanded upriver of Canal Street, while the older French Creole society continued to flourish in the French Quarter. In January 1815, General Andrew Jackson brought the War of 1812 to a close by routing British invaders in the Battle of New Orleans.   

Following the end of the Battle of Chalmette, the first Mardi Gras parade was soon to be held by the Krewe of Comus in 1857. What was once originally known as a private Catholic ritual, evolved into a joyous public celebration that has become synonymous with the city. The Krewe of Rex, one of the oldest and most prominent Mardi Gras organizations, rolled their first parade in 1872, adding to the spectacle and pageantry of the annual celebration. 


History of New Orleans Louis Armstrong jazz musician

New Orleans’ artistic culture blossomed in the early 20th century. Jazz, a new musical genre characterized by improvisation and exciting rhythms, emerged from New Orleans’ diverse Black community. Sensational New Orleans-born trumpet player Louis Armstrong made jazz world famous. Writers such as William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams would end up calling the French Quarter home at pivotal points in their careers.  

During World War II, New Orleans contributed significantly as a shipyard for America. Additionally, the city became a center for the Civil Rights Movement, with local schools achieving integration in 1960 and Tulane University accepting their first five black students 3 years after. 


history of New Orleans 2000s Hurricane Katrina devastation

By the year 2000, New Orleans had significantly expanded its tourism industry. Unfortunately, this economic momentum was interrupted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, that led to breaches in the city’s levees. These breaches subjected nearly the entire city to catastrophic flooding. Local and federal authorities were unprepared for the severity of the storm’s damage, which led to a deeply tragic outcome.  

In spite of the natural disaster, New Orleans managed to make an inspiring show of resilience in the wake of Katrina’s horrors. The New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010, which many locals celebrated as a triumphant symbol for the city’s recovery. Today, New Orleans’ dynamic tourism economy welcomes visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy the Crescent City’s unique culture. 

Learn More with a Garden District Walking Tour 

If you’re looking for an exciting way to learn more about the rich history and culture of New Orleans, then a Garden District tour is the perfect opportunity for you. With expert guides leading the way, guests can explore some of the most historic sites and beautiful architecture that the city has to offer.  

From the stunning mansions and gardens of Uptown New Orleans to the iconic streetcars that still run today, there is no shortage of fascinating information to discover on this magnificent Garden District walking tour. So why not take a step back in time and immerse yourself in the unique culture of New Orleans? Join a Garden District tour and experience the city like never before. Reserve your spot today and see all that this vibrant and storied city has to offer! 

New Orleans Legendary Walking Tours
New Orleans Legendary Walking Tours
French Quarter Tour  |  Garden District Tour  New Orleans Ghost Tour  |  New Orleans Cocktail Tour

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