In the southeast of Louisiana lies New Orleans – a city famous for jazz, which flows through the streets both day and night. Although it suffered a heavy blow in 2005 in the form of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, today’s New Orleans is full of beautiful French architecture, stately churches, and attracts visitors with great food and a colorful nightlife.
New Orleans is the capital and largest city of the southern state of Louisiana. It covers an area of 518 square kilometers and has a population of around 1.3 million. As it lies in the delta of the Mississippi River and on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, which is the second largest salt lake in the United States, it is no wonder that it is also home to one of the most important ports in the entire United States. The second longest bridge in the world – the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway – leads to the city over Lake Pontchartrain.
According to existingcountries, New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French colonizer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and got its name after Duke Philip II. Orléans, who was the regent, i.e. the representative of the minor Louis XIV. and at that time de facto the most powerful man in France at that time. The first inhabitants of the city were immigrants from France, Germany and Canada, many slaves from Africa were also imported here. However, the conditions for the residents here were not ideal at all. In addition to frequent wind storms that destroyed the roofs above their heads, floods and diseases such as malaria, poisonous snakes, alligators and troublesome insects made their life here uncomfortable. In addition, dubious existences began to move into the city and it was soon full of serious criminals and political outcasts. New Orleans thus began to be spoken of as a city of sin, evil and extravagance.
New Orleans was a French colony until 1763, after which the city was acquired by the Spanish. In 1772, it became the capital of the state of Louisiana. However, the end of the 18th century was not happy for New Orleans, as the city was almost completely destroyed by fire twice. The oldest monuments that can be found in the city today come from the period of Spanish colonization. In 1801, New Orleans was returned to France, and in the following years there was a lot of development and construction in the French style – the French were largely responsible for the current appearance of the city. Two years later, the city was sold to the United States of America for $15 million. New Orleans thus began to experience a period of prosperity – a new port, shipyards, numerous shops, residential houses and hotels were built.
Cultural and architectural diversity
When you visit New Orleans today, you will be amazed by its multicultural appearance. For many years, everything was mixed in it, so today, in addition to the wide boulevards that are the work of French settlers, you can also find a modern center with skyscrapers or narrow back streets that have the spirit of the Spanish conquistadors, British soldiers, Caribbean immigrants and black slaves. Today’s New Orleans is thus a completely unique city that has its own unique mentality, customs and language. The mixing of cultures is even evident in the local cuisine, in which elements of African, Spanish, French, Italian and Caribbean cuisine are hidden. Nevertheless, the local food and colorful tropical drinks will satisfy every traveler. Although New Orleans is a city of great contrasts, be it architecture or its inhabitants, it is a city where carefreeness, good mood and a kind of relaxation reign. That is why it is often called “The Big Easy”, which could be translated as the Czech expression “City of total comfort”. That is why many call it one of the most beautiful cities in the USA.
What to see in New Orleans?
Unique architecture awaits you in the historic center of the city. Among the major tourist attractions is the French Quarter, which is full of original houses from the time of French rule. There are also numerous hotels, bars, night clubs, museums and antique shops. Interesting buildings include, for example, beautifully decorated houses called Shotgun houses, or Creole townhouses, which stand out with large courtyards and balconies with iron railings. In the street of St. Charles, it is possible to admire the famous Antebellum homes, which were built in various architectural styles – Victorian, colonial, Greek, French, etc. The important sights of the city include the Cathedral of St. Ludvíka towering over Jackson Square. The Preservation Hall jazz hall is also of great importance.
Skyscrapers have also adorned the city since the 1960s. Among the tallest are the World Trade Center New Orleans, the Plaza Tower, and the tallest is the One Shell Square building from 1972. Popular New Orleans attractions today also include the New Orleans Aquarium, the Zoo, the Louisiana Children’s Museum and the Center for Modern Art Contemporary Arts Center. New Orleans also became famous in the world for the jazz music of black artists, so you can hear not only jazz, but also styles such as dixie, blues, rock and R&B played here from almost every establishment – whether in broad daylight or late at night. It is no wonder that the city hosts several important music festivals every year, the most famous of which are the Mardi Gras festival, the New Orleans Jazz&Heritage Festival known as JazzFest.
The location of New Orleans near the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain can be an advantage, but, as local residents saw for themselves a few years ago, it is also a great threat. Due to the proximity of water sources in the city, there is a significant risk of flooding. The most devastating ones hit New Orleans in August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the city. This had a catastrophic impact on the city. The protective levees that were built around the metropolis could not keep the swollen Mississippi River in its bed, it overflowed and most of the territory of New Orleans was flooded. In some places, the water reached a height of up to 8 meters.
Around 1,500 city residents lost their lives and the total damage was estimated at 100 billion dollars. Although the city was greatly affected by Katrina, and many places are still undergoing reconstruction, it has largely recovered from this natural disaster. To prevent a similar natural disaster sometime in the future, the city is protected by an ingenious and very complex system of water pumps, drainage canals and dams. Currently, New Orleans is once again among the most popular tourist destinations in the USA.