New Orleans: A City Rich in History and Culture
The French Quarter located in New Orleans is iconic. It’s only half a square mile, but one of the most recognizable. Established by the French in 1718, the area goes by another name as well, the Vieux Carre. The translation from French to English meant “Old Square” and was given in the late 1800s. Its location is on the banks of the Mississippi River. This dynamic area is the location of a lot of creativity. New Orleans is famous for inventing jazz and gospel music while contributing creatively to art and cuisine as well. The history is as vibrant as the cultural impact.
A Little Back Story
To understand the vibrancy of this amazing city you need to understand the cultures that helped give it shape. New Orleans was established in 1718. Before this time, Native Americans primarily occupied the land. However, thanks to two French brothers, the area was the first city in America to undergo planning. Important to note because it’s what lends to the unique grid of the town! Something that makes it easy today as a tourist to capture in the beauty.
A tradition that was brought to use while under French occupation is Mardi Gras. It’s one of the most colorful and celebrated festivals in America, but its inspiration is very European. When an explorer landed about 60 miles south of New Orleans, he claimed the land as “Pointe du Mardi Gras.” It was this tiny settlement that would have the very first Mardi Gras. It came to New Orleans in 1718. Today the festival is held in the streets and attended by revelers in masks and wearing beads. Attendees can view a spectacular parade that boasts some of the most fantastic, eye-opening float constructions.
In 1762, the state of Louisiana was transferred to Spain. That meant a lot of customary changes, but the city as a whole grew. The beauty of the town is the amalgamation of cultures. The Spanish significantly influenced the prosperity and growth of the city, as well as, the architecture. In 1788, there was a massive fire that burnt most of the buildings down in the French Quarter. It was up to the ruling Spanish and Caribbean decision makers to rebuild. The sheer volume of color and the regal, close-together building styles are in thanks to the Spanish. As you walk through the streets today, you can still feel the dynamics of their architectural influence!
The Louisiana Purchase
In 1803, the United States purchased Louisiana and initiated another era of growth and affluence. Once the purchase was completed, many Americans began to relocate, and the population nearly tripled in seven years. Americans brought with them the English language and many residents of the French Quarter were a little resistant to these foreigners. Those who chose to reside in French Quarter did so along Canal Street, the Lower Garden District and others. These areas became known for the “American Quarter.”
New Orleans Cultural Influence
Until the first road was built in 1958, New Orleans had more canals than Venice. That meant the island was secluded from a lot of external factors. This isolation promoted a lot of creativity. Culturally speaking, New Orleans includes a dynamic mix of African-American, French, and Spanish descendants. Each group made significant contributions to the music, art, and cuisines that came from the area, including jazz, gospel music, and Creole cuisine. In the 18th century, Creoles were French and Spanish descendants born in the colony. Cajuns were French colonists who were exiled from Nova Scotia and settled in the bayous in Louisiana.
Visiting New Orleans
If you plan a visit to New Orleans, a trip to the French Quarter is a must. The roots these cultures brought to the area add a level of dimension that is still visible today. These independent thinkers and creative minds resisted conforming. You can experience this as you walk through Faubourg Marigny, Garden District, Uptown, Algiers, swamplands and more. You can visit New Orleans with Sweet Magnolia Tours. The package includes hotel accommodations for two nights and tickets to the attraction of your choice. View the complete package on our website.
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