Pre-Civil War New Orleans

New Orleans is a city in southern Louisiana, located on the Mississippi River. Most of the city is
situated on the east bank, between the river and Lake Pontchartrain to the north. Because it was built on a
great turn of the river, it is known as the Crescent City. New Orleans, with a population of 496,938 (1990
census), is the largest city in Louisiana and one of the principal cities of the South. It was established on
the high ground nearest the mouth of the Mississippi, which is 177 km (110 mi) downstream. Elevations
range from 3.65 m (12 ft) above sea level to 2 m (6.5 ft) below; as a result, an ingenious system of water
pumps, drainage canals, and levees has been built to protect the city from flooding.
New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, and named for the
regent of France, Philippe II, duc d\'Orleans. It remained a French colony until 1763, when it was
transferred to the Spanish. In 1800, Spain ceded it back to France; in 1803, New Orleans, along with the
entire Louisiana Purchase, was sold by Napoleon I to the United States. It was the site of the Battle of New
Orleans (1815) in the War of 1812. During the Civil War the city was besieged by Union ships under
Adm. David Farragut; it fell on Apr. 25, 1862.
And that\'s what it say\'s in the books, a bit more, but nothing else of interest. This is too bad,
New Orleans , as a city, has a wide and diverse history that reads as if it were a utopian society built to
survive the troubles of the future. New Orleans is a place where Africans, Indians and European settlers
shared their cultures and intermingled. Encouraged by the French government, this strategy for
producing a durable culture in a difficult place marked New Orleans as different and special from its
inception and continues to distinguish the city today.
Like the early American settlements along Massachusetts Bay and Chesapeake Bay, New Orleans
served as a distinctive cultural gateway to North America, where peoples from Europe and Africa initially
intertwined their lives and customs with those of the native inhabitants of the New World. The resulting
way of life differed dramatically from the culture than was spawned in the English colonies of North
America. New Orleans Creole population (those with ancestry rooted in the city\'s colonial era) ensured not
only that English was not the prevailing language but also that Protestantism was scorned, public
education unheralded, and democratic government untried. Isolation helped to nourish the differences.
From its founding in 1718 until the early nineteenth century, New Orleans remained far removed from the
patterns of living in early Massachusetts or Virginia. Established a century after those seminal Anglo-
Saxon places, it remained for the next hundred years an outpost for the French and Spanish until
Napoleon sold it to the United States with the rest of the Louisiana purchase in 1803.
Even though steamboats and sailing ships connected French Louisiana to the rest of the country,
New Orleans guarded its own way of life. True, it became Dixie\'s chief cotton and slave market, but it
always remained a strange place in the American South. American newcomers from the South as well as
the North recoiled when they encountered the prevailing French language of the city, its dominant
Catholicism, its bawdy sensual delights, or its proud free black and slave inhabitants; In short, its deeply
rooted Creole population and their peculiar traditions. Rapid influxes of non-southern population
compounded the peculiarity of its Creole past. Until the mid-nineteenth century, a greater number of
migrants arrived in the boomtown from northern states such as New York and Pennsylvania than from the
Old South. And to complicate its social makeup further, more foreign immigrants than Americans came
to take up residence in the city almost to the beginning of the twentieth century.
The largest waves of immigrants came from Ireland and Germany. In certain neighborhoods,
their descendants\' dialects would make visitors feel like they were back in Brooklyn or Chicago. From
1820 to 1870, the Irish and Germans made New Orleans one of the main immigration ports in the nation,
second only to New York,