New Orleans

New Orleans: History, Culture, and Places to See

Famously nicknamed as The Big Easy known for being the birthplace of jazz music, with rich history of perseverance through disasters, at the forefront of civil rights movement against racial segregation in United States, as well as a cultural melting pot. If you are looking for an interesting place to see next, New Orleans is the city to be.

In this blog I will let you hop on in a journey of history of New Orleans blended with the cultural events of note that took place. The timeline will take you through a step by step guide of major events relevant with a little over 300 year old history of the city.

Let’s start off with the history and culture of the city.

History, Culture & Major Events Timeline Of New Orleans:

1699; First Ever Mardi Gras celebration In New Orleans

Things to do in New Orleans; Mardi Gras festival
©NY daily news

Back in 1699, explorers Bienville and Iberville landed near the slope of Mississippi river, that day happened to be overlapping with Fat Tuesday.

As it is common among explorers to celebrate a successful voyage, especially as the day was coinciding with Fat Tuesday, they did too. They called it Point du Mardi Gras and held a small celebration over it.

Obviously, there are many other folktales that describe the event differently. The origin of the celebration is believed to be different in different stories, but this is one of the most commonly known one.

It is believed that this became a tradition eventually as the area came to ve officially known as New Orleans. Later on Mardi Gras became a well celebrated event.

1718; Origin of New Orleans

Before it became a city, the area was basically a marshland with a lot of mosquitoes and animal habitat of relative niche. The province was filled with dense plant life growing in marshy area. It was basically a very tough environment for human settlement to be believed.

And yet somehow Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville observed the fact that the area was located along Mississippi River. while it was a swampland at that time, he saw the strategic location that it could become in future. On behalf of Duke of Orleans, he chose this location for the establishment of a new city. It was known as “Le Nouvelle Orléans”.

1763; The Spanish Rule

The Treaty of Paris and that the should between French and Indian find turning New Orleans into the hands of Spanish rule. The participants of this pretty were Great Britain Spain and France.

This site acted as an outpost for Spanish government a kind of channel for trade with Cuba, Mexico and Haiti. Later on, France ruled the colony again until it was eventually sold to United States. The event is historically known as Louisiana purchase.

1788: Fire, destruction, rebuilding

The great fire of 1788 in NOLA

If you study the history of New Orleans will come to know that the city has endured quite a lot of incidents that post it to rebuild arena mate itself again and again.

Towards the end of Spanish rule the city was engulfed in enormous fires rich spread to around 850 of the budding city. It happened on Good Friday of that year.

This was not the first time the city had to endure how to build itself nor was it the last. 200 buildings were ravaged by fires only six years later. Because of this incident, a good portion of the city had to be reconstructed again.

1791-1804; Haitian Revolution

This was a major incident that become a turning point for the future of New Orleans. The refugees of the high end revolution arrived in the city and the free black population of refugees were initially kept out by the order of the New Orleans governor.

However, the influential French Creoles protested against it as majority of the refugees were French speaking and it increase their foothold in New Orleans, so they were eventually let in.

1803; The historical Luisiana Purchase

Far back in 1803, a deal took place between Thomas Jefferson (3rd president of USA) and Napoleon Bonaparte (military leader of France) It was later known as the Louisiana purchase, It became a historical event that changed the course of potential future for New Orleans.

Napoleon Bonaparte needed the funds to continue the warfare that was occurring between United Kingdom and France. For United States history, it became one of the most important achievements by one of the presidents of the nation.

1817- 1905; Yellow Fever Epidemic

If you think viral outbreaks and epidemics are a “2020 thing”, then you need to think again. An outbreak of yellow fever took place in 1905 spreading from lower French quarters.

It was believed to be have been transmitted through mosquitoes or passengers. Virulent mosquitos may have arrived together with bananas being retailed from Central America after being unpacked from one of the freighter.

The exact figure of those infected and expired is not certain but it is believed to be somewhere around 3000 people for those afflicted and around 400 people for those that passed away.

Late 19th century; The Era Of Jazz

Things to do in New Orleans: listen to Jazz
©visit new orleans

There were many varieties of music present in America during the 1800s but the advent of a new music form, which became the new normal soon, a unique blend of African spiritual songs, ragtime and blues, so beautifully intermixed to give birth to “Jazz”.

Jazz is considered to have been originated from New Orleans and Buddy bolden is known as the father of jazz. His trumpet playing set him apart from all the other musicians.

Nowadays Jazz is considered a matter of fact ingredient of posh music scene, entertaining and enriching the experiences of listeners.

This music form is considered one of the most important contributions of New Orleans to the world.

1950; The Civil Rights Movement Events In New Orleans

History if NOLA; civil rights movement
©Smithsonian Magazine

More than 40% of the race of the population of New Orleans was black at that time. Even then, most of the white-owned shops, whether retail or other facilities, had separate services and facilities to be served for black people.

Most of the shops didn’t even accept African Americans as an employee.
Consumers League of greater New Orleans was organised in 1959 bye Reverend every examiner and doctor Henri Michel to protest against discrimination in employment as well as segregation and services offered to people of colour.

The civil rights movement led to boycotts of every shop and service that had segregation facilities based on racial colours, a lot of arrests were made of the protestors, eventually it all led to a Freedom March in 1963.

While things did not change over night, slowly it did occur. The frequent boycotts forced the businesses to rethink their segregation policies. The facilities were slowly desegregated. While changing the mentality took time, business was business, so that changed first.

1965; The Ravaging Hurticane Betsy

There are many times in history of the city that it had to suffer through natural disasters. The city had to be renovated often times while most of the time it was the cause of fires the city has also been through enormous hurricanes as well.

In 1965 an enormous hurricane start the city of New Orleans ravaging numerous properties, causing citywide destruction. It was named hurricane Betsy later on.

1967; Adoption Of The New Orleans Saints

In 1967, New Orleans adopted a football team named as New Orleans Saints, it was founded by David Dixon the city and John W Mecom Jr.

As the team was founded in November 1, 1967, overlapping with All Saints Day, considering the sentiments of it’s large Catholic population, it was named New Orleans Saints.

If I am to be entirely honest, the team did not do well. Well at least not in the beginning, or the middle. The kids came and went and team endured being marked bye lot of people but the city stayed loyal so that in still supporting their existence making them keep trying their best.

All endurance and efforts of the team paid off in 2010. The team finally progress through the ranks of Super Bowl and eventually in one it in the Super Bowl of 2010.

The Hurricane Katrina had just passed through destroying the city. The winning of the Super Bowl 2010 by New Orleans Saints, evoked a round of celebration throughout the city, raising morale and unity, amidst the gloomy atmosphere that Katrina had caused.

1970; First Ever Jazz Fest

Things to do in New Orleans; see Jazz Fest
©Kreole Magazine

One of the biggest attractions of New Orleans is the Jazz fest. If you are looking for things to do around New Orleans then the Jazz festival, that lasts for 7 days presently, attracting international performances as well as local ones, is one of the best choices that you can make.

While currently it might be a world renowned festival, You might be amazed to know that it started off as only a little celebration event by a few.

The New Orleans jazz & heritage festival was an idea born by New Orleans motel Association with George Wein (who had experience with producing a Newport Jazz Festival as well as Newport folk festivals priorly).

George Wein produced the first festival along with a team of artistic advisors which included Quint Davis who was an intern at the time. Quint Davis later became the CEO and director of the entire undertaking.

The Jazz Festival is a cultural melting pot of New Orleans. If you plan to tour the city, doing it around the national festival would be a very good idea.

2005; The Disastrous Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina; NOLA
©national geographic society

The survivors and residents of the city describe it as a doomsday-like event. On August 29 2005 the most deadly hurricane faced by the U.S. occurred, causing mayhem and becoming the cause of around 1500 deaths as well as leaving 2,000,000 people homeless.

It damaged the levee system the city got flooded does became the major cause of deaths in Louisiana as well as Mississippi.

More than a decade and a half later, the city is finally gaining back its prior population, that were displaced due to Katrina. However, there are still a lot of previous homes that can be found in disrepair caused by it back then.

Top 7 Places To See In New Orleans:

Places to see in New Orleans©Sean Pavone/getty images plus

  1. National WWII Museum

  • A wonderful museum that introduces you to the occurrences of Pacific Theater and European Front. A gallery of World War II related artefacts.

2. Voodo Museum

  • See the strange and exciting artefacts related to voodo practices, get to know the Voodo Warlcks, enjoy the exceptional mystic charm.

3. Music Box Village

An interactive musical house with musical performances and innovative artistry.
  1. St. Roch Market

  • An open air market originating after the hurricane Katrina damaged this area. It has award winning bar as well as food hall with 11 different varieties of restaurants.

5. Longue Vue House and Gardens

  • Gardening seminars and arts and culture events. Inclusive of 22 fountains, five artistic structures and nine gardens.

6. Studio Be

  • “BMike” odoms converted a warehouse which was abandoned into an exceptional site filled with wondrous graffiti, showcasing his style naming the show, Ephemeral Eternal.
    This graffiti centric exhibition went on to become the longest running as well as the biggest one-man art show to have ever occurred in the U.S.

7. Audibon Butterfly Garden & Insectorium

  • Are your kids the kind that are curiously interested in butterflies and other bugs? Then this might be the place that you should visit, and don’t forget to take your kids with you.
  • The place features a koi pond a butterfly sanctuary and a very helpful staff that is good with kids.

7 Fun Things To Do In New Orleans; Guided Tours

Things to do in New Orleans; Swamp Tours
©visit new orleans

• Go on a Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez, take your loved one with you, make it a romantic outing!

• Take a short tour of the French Quarter through a 1-hour carriage ride.

• Get excited and terrified at the same time mingling with the Ghosts, Vampires and Voodo arts on a guided tour.

• Enjoy the sights through a luxury bus tour of New Orleans.

• Take a day trip of Whitney Plantation tour.

• Take a tour of Mardi Gras world Behind-the Scenes.

• Go on one of the popular New Orleans Swamp tours by Airboat or Tour boat.

I advise you to plan your trip thoroughly before going to visit the city. do some research about the safe areas to visit at times for the events that may be Bing health during your visit.

Efforts at all possible try to visit the city during the Mardi Gras festival but it will become the event that will stay with you throughout your entire life.

There are plenty more things to do places to stay in New Orleans, but the above mentioned are some of the few hidden gems that I could think of. The major attractions can be found anywhere and everywhere on various blogs so I focused the lists more on more fun places to be and things to do.

From ghosts and vampire tours to tasty pastries, here are five must-do things in New Orleans’ French Quarter by The Peculiar Adventurer – Learn more.

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