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The History, Culture, and Music of New Orleans

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.



New Orleans, Louisiana, is the most unusual city in America. It is famous for Cajuns, Mardi Gras, Voodoo, and jazz. Nicknamed the "Crescent City" because of its shape, it is filled with peculiar traditions. It has always been bawdy and dedicated to debauchery.

Built on a patch of swampland between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, the humidity, mosquitoes, disease, hurricanes, and floods dissuaded most folks from moving there. New Orleans has one of the highest levels of rainfall in the United States. That is a problem because much of the city is below sea level—being built on extremely low ground to take advantage of ocean-going shipping—and has been slowly sinking for centuries.

The French language and Catholicism made New Orleans different. Protestantism was always scorned there. This is part of why the city was long so isolated from the rest of the United States.

It sits 110 miles upstream from the mouth of the Mississippi. The elevations of the city range from 12 feet above sea level to 6.5 feet below, and the rich folks live above the poor as they do in every city in the world prone to floods.





History of Louisiana

Louisiana squats in a gulf coastal plain approximately 300 X 300 miles square. It was first explored by the Spanish in 1528. La Salle (who founded my hometown of St Joseph, Michigan) claimed Louisiana for France in 1682 and named it after the Sun King, King Louis XIV. He thought it important because of its strategic location at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

It is so French that Louisiana doesn't have counties like the rest of the United States; it has parishes. Known as the Pelican State; the pelican is the state bird, the magnolia the state flower, and the bald cypress the state tree.

Louisiana produces the second most natural gas of all American states and 1/3 of the U.S. total. It boasts 2,482 islands and produces the most furs in America at 1.3 million per year of otter, mink, and beaver; as well as producing the most oysters and crawfish—10 million pounds per annum.





History of New Orleans

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded New Orleans in 1718. He was born in Montreal, one of 14 children born to parents from Normandy. After joining the French Navy as an explorer at age 17, he was sent with his older brother to explore the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. In 1743, Bienville retired to Paris and produced many historic maps and panoramas.

From 1717-1720, Paris deported boatloads of criminals to Louisiana. 1/4 of original male population was smugglers and convicted felons. In 1721, New Orleans was described as "100 wet, wretched hovels on flood-prone banks full of malaria and alligators, and infested with snakes." A massive hurricane struck in 1722 that blew down the whole town. The city was repopulated with riff raff and undesirables—people nobody else wanted.

While the original settlers of New Orleans were French, they were followed by Spaniards, and then the French Acadians (Cajuns) came from Nova Scotia and the surrounding area (Acadia). The Cajuns fled from the conquering British Army to Louisiana in 1754-1763 because they did not want to live under British rule. The population got another boost from Frenchmen fleeing the horrors of the French Revolution after 1789.

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In 1762, King Louis XV lost a bet and gave New Orleans to his cousin, the King of Spain, Charles III. In 1800, it was given back to France, but then Napoleon sold all of Louisiana to the United States in 1803. Americans soon came to live there, as did Germans, Irish, and Sicilians. The Slave Revolt in Haiti of 1804 brought a new influx of French aristocrats fleeing that island, as well as a goodly number of slaves fleeing the violence along with their former masters.

The Haitian Revolution of 1804 led to an ongoing experiment where the first (and only) country in the Western Hemisphere was to be led by black people. Many Haitians, though, fled the island for New Orleans apparently preferring to live where whites rule. They were welcomed because they spoke French. The number of Haitian refugees by 1809 is estimated to include 3200 slaves, 3100 free blacks—And 2700 whites escaping the carnage visited upon their brethren in Haiti.

In 1791, the wettest town in the Western Hemisphere boasted twice as many taverns as all other commercial establishments combined. Gambling ruled, as evidenced by the 54,000 packs of playing cards imported in that one year into a town of 8,000. By 1800, after 37 years of light rule by Spain, New Orleans had become a haven for pirates, smugglers, and prostitutes.

There were only 97 blacks in New Orleans in 1771—3% of the population—but by 1777 that number jumped to 300, and there were 820 in 1788. By 1805, blacks were 20% of the population in Louisiana. The Census of that year counted 8,500 souls in New Orleans: 3551 whites, 3105 slaves, and 1556 free blacks.

The Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 burned down 856 buildings, only to be followed six years later by another that burnt down 212 of the remaining buildings. This time the wooden structures were replaced by Spanish architecture built with bricks. The oldest building that survived the fires is the Ursuline Convent, built in 1752.





By 1800, sugar was big. But then came 100 years of epidemics; smallpox, malaria, and yellow fever. These problems were naturally exacerbated by dirty people, a transient population, lots of sailors passing through, and poor sanitation. The last yellow fever epidemic was in 1905. No one blamed it on the government or racism.

Everywhere in the New World there was a shortage of European women. The fact is, that in the first few centuries European men outnumbered European women 50 to 1 on ships headed west, and that is why men sought out women who were Indian or African—that's all there was. A Quadroon was a 1/4 black, and in 1825, Quadroon Balls started up in New Orleans at which 1/4 black women who were pretty would attend voluntarily in the hopes of meeting a rich white man who would make her his mistress.

Jean Lafitte (1780-1826) was a privateer and smuggler who preyed on Spanish ships and helped the U.S. in the War of 1812 against the Brits. Lafitte was a gentleman in manner; wealthy and possessed of a certain mystique. Was he the "Hero of New Orleans" or the "Terror of the Gulf"? Probably both.

A "Creole" means a French or Spanish person born in the New World. It never meant a person of color, despite urban legends. It means a person not born in Europe even though they are of European stock.

French and Spanish Creoles did not want Americans to live in New Orleans. They saw them as low-class, uncultured, rough and tumble Yanks. To be fair, this perception was based on the first Americans they became acquainted with, who were river rats and frontiersmen. Creoles would do business with Anglos but never socialize with them. American businessmen came and made great fortunes from cotton, sugar, trade, and banking.

It was in fact to keep Americans out of the French Quarter that Canal Street was first built. When you cross it today the Streets change to Rues. St Louis Cathedral served the old settlers from France and Spain, while St Patrick's served the Irish and other American Catholics. They did not worship together. By the same token, Jackson Square was for Creoles and Lafayette Square for Americans. Creoles had the pedigrees of old families, and they had created the unique culture of New Orleans, but the Americans soon had the wealth. They are money-making people. A nation of hustlers.

Along Canal Street there grew a strip of neutral ground between Americans and Creoles. The Americans formed the Business District and the Garden District. The two sides finally came together when they fought side by side in the Battle Of New Orleans behind Andrew Jackson in 1815, helped by slaves, Indians, and pirates (behind the notorious buccaneer Laffite).

The population of New Orleans doubled in the 1830s. By 1840, New Orleans was the wealthiest city in the United States, and the third most populous with 102,000 residents. "New Paris," as it was called, was flourishing, rich, dazzling, and filled with Parisian couture, fabulous restaurants—and quite the permissive society. Royal Street was the main thoroughfare. It was a major setback when 1/3 of the city residents contracted Yellow Fever in the epidemic of 1853. There is no record of anyone blaming the federal government or racism.

1815-1860 is considered the Golden Age of New Orleans. It was then that the city was the major port and financial center of the United States. This ended when the Union Army occupied it for years on end during and after the Civil War. It was only Mardi Gras and Jazz that brought New Orleans city back as a tourist attraction. Oil and petro chemicals saved the fortunes of the city in postmodern times.

In the 1880s, New Orleans was known as "America's most European city." The Mississippi River was full of boats, steamers, and freighters. The New Orleans Mint produced gold and silver coinage from 1838 to 1861 and again from 1879 to 1909—427 million coins in all.



Early in the Civil War, New Orleans was captured without a fight and thus spared the destruction most of the South suffered at the hands of a vengeful North. During the Civil War the teaching of French in public schools was banned by Yankees as a threat to national security.

By 1900, few people in New Orleans could still speak the language. No one cried about the culture being diminished. If they wanted to speak French, people knew they could move to France. It was in the Civil War that Admiral Farragut famously said "Damn the Torpedoes."





The French Quarter

Although it is world famous, the French Quarter only covers 4X11 blocks of this earth. It features the oldest apartment buildings in America, which are not French but of Spanish architecture from the 1850s. By 1900, the French Quarter had slouched from elegant to slummy.

Many of the streets are named for Catholic Saints in New Orleans and for the royal houses of France as well. Bourbon Street is not named for booze but for the House of Bourbon.

The old French Quarter is battered but still charming, Bohemian and decayed, but still vibrant. The cast iron balconies, hidden courtyards, and stucco buildings stained by time present a haunting fascination and a jumble of sights, sounds, and smells—a truly sensual experience you feel in no other place.

The grid of the French Quarter remains unchanged since 1721, and most of its buildings are over 200 years old. It is a home to many a poor musician and artist, and the center of southern decadence.

Vieux Carre means old square—French quarter—the site of the original city, founded by Jean-Baptiste le Moyne and not named for Orleans, France, as most folks think. Orleans is in fact a royal family name since 1372 in France, and New Orleans was named for the Duke of Orleans.





Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday." This is the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is a period of six weeks that leads up to Easter during which Catholics do not party, and they vow to give up something they physically love, such as meat, dairy products, sugar, or fatty foods. Lent is a time of repentance.

The idea of Mardi Gras, which marks the end of a festive period known as Carnival, is that this is your last day to eat anything you want and sin all you want before Lent. Oft times masks are worn to disguise one's identity so those in your community will not recognize you as you step outside the normal boundaries of good behavior. Fat Tuesday can be any day between February 3rd and March 9th, depending on the day Easter falls.

Carnival means "farewell to meat" from the Latin carne vale. It begins with Twelfth Night, the 6th of January, the last day of the Christmas season. It has evolved into a time of public celebration that includes costume balls, parades, and street parties.

Carnival is a decidedly Catholic thing. It originated in Venice in 1162, and slowly spread to Rome and the rest of Italy, eventually becoming entrenched in Spain, Portugal, and France. Venetian masks became famous for their beautiful glass artistry. Today many are made from porcelain or leather.

Before he founded New Orleans in 1718, Jean Baptiste Bienville had established Mobile, Alabama in 1703, which right from the start celebrated Fat Tuesday—a first in North America. In 1711, a secret social organization was formed, the "Boeuf Gras Society" (Fatted Calf Society), that put on the party in Mobile for the next 150 years. By the 1730s, this was copied in "Nawlins."

The Governor of Louisiana established the first Mardi Gras balls in the 1740s, but it wasn't until the 1830s that street processions of fine carriages with masked riders began, the way lit by men carrying gas torches called flambeaux. This turned into the parades of decorated platforms on or towed by vehicles (floats) we see today. The first decorated float appeared in 1837.

From the 10th century, the Church had put on Passion Plays in European towns utilizing chain theatre on pageant wagons. Chain theatre is a method in which plays are portrayed one scene at a time from one wagon to the next, beginning to end. "Pagyn" is an archaic word for a stage on wheels. Townspeople would line up along a route to see actors, sets, and props. From 1535 in London this was done on the River Thames on barges—hence the word "floats."

In 1856, six anonymous businessmen formed an ultra-secret society in New Orleans to put on masked balls and dazzling parades, the "Mistick Krewe of Comus." In 1870, another group formed the competing "Twelfth Night Revelers" and it was they who instituted the Mardi Gras "throws"—throwing keepsakes to revelers, originally glass beads but now plastic beads or doubloons. For forty years the Parisian papier-mâché artist Georges Soulie created all Mardi Gras parade floats for New Orleans. Papier-mâché means "chewed paper." It was invented by the Chinese who used it to make helmets, but France was the first European country to use it from the 1650s.

1872 was a watershed year for Mardi Gras. This was when the first Rex, or King of Carnival, was named. And the year official colors were introduced: purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith; as well as when the royal anthem was adopted—"If Ever I Cease to Love." This song was written a year before by an Englishmen known as "Champagne Charlie" who was already famous for composing "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze." In 1875, the Mardi Gras Act made Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in Louisiana.

The population of New Orleans doubles the weekend before Fat Tuesday. Another tradition is King Cake—a coffee cake that contains a little plastic baby or hidden bean that whoever finds it must throw the next King Cake Party. Mardi Gras has become known as a time of female immodesty—featuring the baring of breasts in public in exchange for cheap beads. Because of narrow streets and overhead obstructions the Mardi Gras parade no longer comes into the French Quarter where it began. The last time this did happen was 1972.






Storyville was the Red-Light District of New Orleans from 1897-1917. The locals simply called it "The District." It was named after city alderman Sidney Story, the man who came up with the idea to confine prostitution to one part of town so it could be regulated and monitored, which was modeled on such districts in Holland and Germany.

"Blue Books" were issued to sex tourists, which were official city guidebooks to available services, ranging from the cheap "cribs" where sex was 50 cents to the upscale bordellos that charged ten dollars. The United States military closed Storyville down out of concern for venereal disease and immorality.

700 women worked in Storyville when Louis Armstrong grew up there. The bars never closed, and spicy food was the rule. It was because Storyville closed down that Jazz spread around America. The neighborhood employed a multitude of musicians, and the majority of them moved to Chicago and Memphis, as well as New York, St. Louis, and Cincinnati.





Voodoo and Jazz

Voodoo came from Africa to Haiti and then to New Orleans. The word "Voodoo" comes from the Fon People of Benin, West Africa. It means "spirits who interact with the living." In 1719, the first slaves were imported into Louisiana, and they were from the tribe of Fon.

These folks believed in One God, the Creator, and in angels and demons, as well as in ongoing interaction with human ancestors. In their belief system the Devil is named Legba—a deceiver and a thief. He is symbolized, oddly enough, by the same symbol "gay" people have chosen for themselves: the rainbow. He is also known as a snake—the widely known demonic snake god also called "Li Grand Zombi" or "Ouncongo" or "Papa Labas."

Until about 1830, Voodoo in New Orleans was much as it was in Africa. But an 1808 U.S. law had ended the importation of any new slaves, and this severed the connection between Africans and Negro slaves in the United States. 1830-1930 is considered the Golden Age of Voodoo. During these years Voodoo was intermingled with Catholicism and joined the Mardi Gras festivities.

After 1930, real Voodoo went underground. But by then Voodoo had birthed the dance and music called Jazz, an African name for what men ejaculate—semen. A commercialized Voodoo emerged above ground as a tourist attraction—what the locals call Hoodoo. Hoodoo is phony and a business; Voodoo is real and religious.



Marie Laveau (b. 1801) was the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Both of her parents were free mulattos. Her husband and two children died young, and she gave herself the name "Widow Paris." She liked it so well she asked for it to be engraved on her tombstone, which it is.

Widow Paris later had seven more children as a "placage" (mistress) to a white gentleman. She was a liquor importer, nurse, and spiritual healer who died in 1881—some said a Saint, others said a Witch. It is agreed she was exceptionally beautiful and got rich selling gris-gris.

Marie Laveau was known to dance with snakes in blood-soaked rituals. She is also known to have been a spy, a blackmailer, a Madam, and a fixer. She was outwardly a staunch Catholic, but she owned slaves. She gave much to charity, even though she could not read or write or even sign her name.



Zombies are people who have been poisoned by a powder made from the blowfish, generally put into their shoes and absorbed through the feet, which makes them appear to be dead. Then an antidote made from Angel Trumpet flower seeds appears to "resurrect" the victim. However, though physically functional the poison causes amnesia, incoherence, disorientation, and hallucinations. You are "just not yourself" anymore—considered a fate worse than death.

Gris-Gris (pronounced gree-gree) refers to both the objects and the rituals of Voodoo magic. It is used for love and romance; for power and domination by lawyers, politicians, and athletes; for finance by businessmen and luck by gamblers; and for uncrossing—to undo a hex. Gris-Gris involves voodoo dolls, potions, and verbal incantations performed often by a Witch Doctor. The dolls are made to resemble the target of the spell, and some of the clothing or hair makes it more powerful.

Juju is an object containing a living spirit. Mojo is an object used to make magic. A voodoo thorn is a straight pin used on a picture of a target or something belonging to them—a petition to the spirits. To manifest evil is not called black magic by black people but red magic—for the blood involved.

Voodoo helped make Mardi Gras a celebration of excess, lasciviousness, debauchery, and self-expression. One area of New Orleans became the center of Voodoo in America—Congo Square. In 1884, Voodoo gatherings at Congo Square were forcibly ended. But this is where Jazz was born.

Orgies were commonplace after extremely sexual ritual dancing to repetitive, hypnotizing drums and chants, as well as the well chronicled black phenomenon "call and response," all used to invite demonic spirits to come and inhabit the body so they may indulge in human experiences.

The dances—the Bamboula, Chacta, Congo, Yanvalou, Counjaille, and the most famous and popular the Calinda, also the most sexually explicit—introduced hip gyrations to America that can be seen today in any hip-hop club; the pelvic thrusts and the butt grinding. Jazz is the anthem for the voodoo religion.

The pioneer of Jazz music was Jellyroll Morton, the godson of the Voodoo Queen Eulalic Hecaud. Buddy Bolden is also credited as the inventor of Jazz Music in the 1890s, using European brass instruments on top of Voodoo rhythms and chants. The nonsensical singing in Jazz called Scat came from Voodoo, where it was a sign of demon possession—the reverse of speaking in tongues, speaking in the language not of angels but of demons.





Hurricanes & Floods

The worst flood in New Orleans history was not Hurricane Katrina, but the Great Flood of 1849. And yet there is no record of people crying for some government official to save them from the decision they made of where to live. There was also severe flooding in 1882. Then the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1929 was the worst flood in the history of the United States, but there is no record of people crying about how mistreated they were for choosing to live there then either.

In 1900, the frontage on the Mississippi River was largely undeveloped swamp and woods because of frequent flooding. In 1910, the ambitious engineer and inventor Baldino Wood drained the city with huge pumps he designed, 50 of which still operate today. He did not know what we know now that much of the city has been continually sinking, especially since the hurricanes of 1909, 1915, 1947, and 1965 (Betsy).

Hurricane Betsy featured catastrophic flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward—the largest of the 17 wards and the blackest ward (home of Fats Domino). In the 1830s, this had only been home to army barracks, which had been cleared by the 1870s to make way for farms. The first blacks moved into the area in the 1920s. It is the area worst hit by Betsy and Hurricane Katrina. In 2000, it had 14,000 residents, but today only 2,800 remain, which might be for the best.

We must remember that thousands of ancient cities around the world are gone, including many famous ones such as Babylon, Troy, Ephesus, etc. In 1995, New Orleans suffered from severe flooding that should have been an ample warning of what was to come. But people everywhere are reluctant to leave their homes. That is understandable.

Katrina was a Category Five Hurricane—the most severe in the world—and the mayor of the city ordered the first mandatory evacuation in the history of New Orleans. Those who refused to leave and those of their same skin color have hollered racism ever since. But 1,000,000 people did obey the evacuation order; only 200,000 chose to stay. The broken levees decried as a sign of racism broke just the same in 1909, but nobody cried racism then because no blacks lived there at the time.

Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans. Private charity rushed to the rescue—white Christians in particular. 25% of the people never came back this time.





The Big Easy

New Orleans is called the Big Easy because there are so many ways for a good musician to make a living. No other city is so supportive of musical artists. An alternative explanation of the moniker is the slow, easy going lifestyle of the residents.

Its business district looks like the rest of America. The Garden District reminds one of Savannah or Charleston. The unique above-ground cemeteries are known as "Cities of the Dead."

Now let us define a few things for the curious. A Bayou is a body of water like a river but with no current. A Po' Boy Sandwich is roast beef and fried seafood on French bread. A Muffuletta Sandwich is made on Sicilian sesame bread with meat, cheese, and olive salad.

Gumbo is a rice stew, and the name is an African word for Okra. It features shrimp, crab, crawfish, meat, sausage, onions, garlic, tomato, green peppers, and okra. Gumbo was invented by Spaniards, its seafood mixture first amalgamated at the Exchange Hotel, Bar, Ballroom, and Auction House, known simply as "The City Exchange."

The cocktail was invented at the St. Louis Hotel by serving booze in an egg cup, a "coquetier." Jambalaya is rice, pork, chicken, and spices. Picayune is a Louisiana Spanish Colonial coin worth 6 1/4 cents. Zydeco means snap bean, but we know it is as music that is a hybrid of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and Cajun music, featuring an accordion and a washboard and sung in French.

New Orleans is a city of ghost stories and hauntings. The Garden District features many gorgeous old mansions, as well as galleries and antique shops. The streetcars operated up until 1964. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the world's longest bridge (24 miles).

New Orleans is the # 1 port of the United States still today, and one of the world's largest. The Port of New Orleans handles 40% of America's grain exports. New Orleans petrochemicals, aluminum, and food processing are the top industries, along with Dixieland Jazz. By 1990, 4.2 million people lived in the New Orleans metropolitan area making it the 21st most populous area in the United States of America.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 03, 2020:

JOSEPH LABOI ~ Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I am honored that such a distinguished native son of New Orleans would do so. I appreciate your comments and your point is well taken. Yes, many words have multiple, or even fuzzy, meanings.

JOSEPH LABOI on May 03, 2020:

I am native to New Orleans. Creole has varies definitions or meanings. I come from a creole family, meaning we are mixed with Native Indian, African and Spanish roots. Creoles were also those people of color from Haiti who spoke French or Patois, and yes Europeans like the Spaniards born in the new world (most likely mixing with other races and nationalities)are called Criollos which translates in French to creole.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 10, 2019:

Shadowbourne ~ Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your kind compliments and you are most welcome.

Shadowbourne on April 09, 2019:

Very good and high quality text with great tips. Thank you very much, it is important to me.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 02, 2017:

Thank you very much Randy Godwin. I am grateful you take the time to read my articles. The best to you and yours.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 02, 2017:

TheBizWhiz~ I very much appreciate you taking the time to read my article and post such thoughtful and insightful comments. I am glad you enjoyed my work here.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 02, 2017:

Phyllis Doyle Burns ~ Thank you very much for all of your kind words and best wishes. It is always a distinct please to hear from you. I am now working on my third book.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 12, 2015:

Happy to see your return, James! :) Hope your books do well also.

TheBizWhiz on June 12, 2015:

Great Hub! I grew up close to there and lived there for a year. I worked the night shift as a supervisor for a railroad company and got to see many cool and unusual things. I got to eat a lot of great food, see a lot of great sporting events, and drink a lot of beer. Needless to say I gained 20 pounds after living there for only a few months. I laugh every time I look at my wedding pictures because they are evidence of my year of debauchery!

Thumbs up.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on June 12, 2015:

Ah! I just read why you have been so busy. Congratulations on the published book and the new one in process. Best wishes to you.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on June 12, 2015:

Good to hear from you, James. Hope all is well with you and yours and the band keeps playin'. I like your reply to my age-old comment. I do believe you are a romantic poet at heart. Take Care.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2015:

MHiggins---Thank you very much for the positive votes and your kind compliments. I appreciate you coming by to read my Hub, my fellow Michigander.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2015:

rls8994~ It is a pleasure to hear from you again. I am sorry it took me so long to respond but I have not been on this site much lately. Busy with other projects, including publishing my first book and working on my second! :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2015:

rebeccamealey---Well, I am proud to know that you've stopped by and read my article. Thank you!!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2015:

Phyllis Doyle---You are most welcome, my friend. Thank you for making my day with such lovely laudations. You warmed the cockles of my heart with your gracious words. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2015:

Gail Myers---I surely appreciate the 'voted up' and the awesome accolades. And I find your remarks quite interesting. Where are your Hubs?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2015:

Mike Robbers~ Thank you very much for reading my Hub. I appreciate your kind compliments, too.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2015:

Easy Exercise---Hello! Thank you and you are welcome. I had not heard of Brennan's but the next time I visit New Orleans I will surely go there. For one thing, I love Bananas Foster; for another, like you I absolutely love breakfast type foods. Now, I had no idea that the art galleries were so cool there so I will add that my list as well for my next visit. I appreciate the tips and insights!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2015:

mts1098~ I very much enjoyed your complimentary and witty comments. Thank you for taking the time to come over and read my piece.

Michael Higgins from Michigan on December 19, 2014:

Great hub and yes, New Orleans is a place like no other. I lived south of there for 2 years and my oldest child was born there. You have done great research and the hub is extremely well written. Voted up!

rls8994 from Mississippi on August 17, 2014:

Hi James,

I moved to Louisiana a little over a year ago and it has been quite an adjustment moving from Mississippi lol. I am still trying to get use to it. There is so much to learn :)

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on April 12, 2014:

Very informative and comprehensive article on New Orleans. I have been only once. It is definitely a colorful town. I loved the music and the food.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on April 11, 2014:

My gosh, James -- I just learned more about New Orleans than I have ever before. What an awesome, interesting history it has and what an awesome hub you wrote. Very well done and I enjoyed it immensely. Thanks for the history lesson.

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on December 20, 2013:

Wow, this is a comprehensive hub with a lot of facts. I vaguely knew a lot of this, but you did an excellent job providing the background and history. Louisiana really is like being in a different country. The first year of law school they single out Louisiana in just that manner. They warn you the law there is very different due to the early French influence.

So many people love New Orleans but I was not impressed. It had a very heavy, unpleasant feel to me.

Great hub! Voted up!

Mike Robbers from London on June 10, 2013:

Great article. New Orleans should be a fantastic place. I enjoyed the history and the beautiful imagery in your hub.

Kelly A Burnett from United States on March 21, 2013:

Hi James,

Great article! I just found it. Fascinating facts. I had no idea the port was the largest. I love the energy of New Orleans.

The one item that I adore about New Orleans is the art galleries. When we visited the store owners of the galleries and antique stores were all so friendly. They new we were tourist by our shorts but they were so welcoming.

I want to go back with my husband and wander the beautiful shops and of course have Breakfast at Brennans.

Funny story a fellow Toastmaster gave me a list of different places to eat and one was Brennans. As a lover of breakfast of course I had chosen Brennans. I had no idea of how famous Brennans was and not a clue on the the price tag!

I believe they invented Bananas Foster? Everything at Brennans was heavenly and of course our bill was sky high too! Oh, what wonderful memories - I really must return.

Thank you! Voted up - as always I learn so much from your hard research.

mts1098 on February 23, 2013:

Truly fascinating...You covered one city with great detail and rich content...I have always wanted to visit this city of French and Spain origin and now it is a must visit on my American cities list...I will try the Jambalaya and Jazz but will stay away from Storyville :) cheers

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 11, 2013:

Monis Mas— You are most welcome! New Orleans is well worth the visit. There is no place like it on this earth.

I am glad you enjoyed my article. Thank you for visiting and commenting. Welcome to the HubPages Community!

James :D

Agnes on February 09, 2013:

Thank you for an interesting description of this wonderful city. I so want to go there, maybe for Mardi Gras, someday!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 10, 2012:

Randy Godwin— Thank you very much, my friend, for reading my Hub and posting such interesting comments. I, too, have been to but one Mardi Gras in my lifetime. And I shall surely never forget it, either. :D

I do not recall reading your witch tale, though might have. I will come over and check it out soon. I have made a note to remind my old self.

I am so glad that you enjoyed my article on New Orleans and rated it up. Thanks again!


Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on December 03, 2012:

A very interesting, thorough, and concise history of the Big Easy, James. Back in my hippie stage--1972--I attended a Mardi Gras festival there and loved it! Of course, I caught hepatitis from supposedly a few oysters in which I imbibed while there. I'll bet the French Quarter is a bit different now, though.

Also, Marie Laveau and the bayous were part of the inspiration for my witch tale here on HP. A wonderfully interesting part of our country.

Enjoyed and rated up!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 27, 2012:

BDazzler— Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article about New Orleans—that fascinating town. I appreciate your outstanding commentary as well. And I am well pleased that you enjoyed my Hub.

Scrambled eggs and Jack Daniels. eh? :-)

So, after Katrina passed through, you noticed that "New Orleans actually smelled CLEAN for the first time I'd ever been there." Interesting.

I enjoyed absorbing your comments about the city before and after Katrina—from one who was there. I am glad you shared this with us. I have read your comments several times.

It is always a pleasure to hear from you. It seems as if it had been a while since we interacted. It's great to 'see' you again.


BDazzler from Gulf Coast, USA on October 24, 2012:

I was working in New Orleans - staying in the French Quarter in 2005 - there was a little 24 hour scrambled egg and Jack Daniels place across the street from my hotel - food was good and cheap. Friday when Katrina was still in the Gulf - everyone there was trying to talk me in to staying for "the big party". I declined, and stopped to pick up supplies on the way out of town, bottled water, canned food etc. - I was shocked to see how empty the stores were - nobody cared about the big storm. It was a big party - the liquor stores were packed.

The next time I was in New Orleans, a couple of months later to try to help that same client put their data center back together, the store I stocked up at was gone. There were armed mercenaries patrolling the streets - but what struck me was the smell - New Orleans actually smelled CLEAN for the first time I'd ever been there.

The biggest change was in the city police force - those who stayed had a new self respect and a respect for their own authority authority - before there had been the "devil may care" swagger - now they were people who actually served and protected.

What I remember the most, though, was how the mood of the city had changed - everyone you met had sustained a major loss - many still didn't know if some of their loved ones were alive or dead - there was a deadness about them ... then, the Saints won that first game - I watched them transform for the first time in months something had gone "right" - I was an outsider, watching up close - and yet I was a part of it ... it was an experience I can't forget.

I guess that's a long winded way of my saying - I think you nailed the character of New Orleans on the head with that article, James.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 17, 2012:

misshill— Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I agree with you that being in New Orleans DOES feel like you are in a different country. I appreciate your kind compliments, too. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 17, 2012:

Marcia Ours— Thank you!! Thank you very much! :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 15, 2012:

GNelson— I wouldn't go by New Orleans without stopping either! That would be crazy. :D

Nickel payphones. We don't see those anymore, my friend.

Well, I certainly appreciate you stopping by to check out my Hub about New Orleans. Thank you for your excellent comments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 15, 2012:

TexasLadyJuanita— You are most welcome. I too love history. I appreciate the thumbs up and you hitting those good buttons for me. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I will be by soon to read some of yours. Welcome to the HubPages Community!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 15, 2012:

teaches12345— I am well pleased that you enjoyed reading my Hub. I am sure glad you came. Thank you for the kind compliments, and the voted up. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 15, 2012:

Sharkye11— Welcome to the HubPages Community. I look forward to reading your writings, which I will tend to soon. Thank you for taking the time to come over and read my work. I see from your profile page that you are into zombies, so New Orleans must be right up your alley! :D

I am glad you love the selection of images and the history. I appreciate the voted up and your gracious accolades.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 15, 2012:

JayeWisdom— Hello there! Thank you for the kind compliments. You must be from around Biloxi? I have been there several times.

I hope my article is not "too" thorough. :-)

I agree with you that a visit to New Orleans is an experience one will not soon forget. Yep, they call their city "Nawlins," alright.

Jaye, I sure appreciate the Voted Up+++. And I am particularly thankful that you shared this article with those you know and love. That means a lot to me.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 15, 2012:

kashmir56— You know how much I appreciate you sharing this article with your friends. I can think of no higher honor. Thank you, my friend. :D

I am grateful to you for the laudations, as well as the voted up and more. Take care.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 14, 2012:

Dolores Monet— It may well be that 15 percent of the people stay at home during emergencies such as hurricanes after a mandatory evacuation has been ordered. I did a bit of a study of all the hurricanes in America's history during the course of researching this Hub—and of other catastrophic floods. I could not find any other case over the centuries where there was such an outcry that it was the government's fault what happened to the people who ignored such a warning—or even those given no warning (in older times). And for sure no other case where anybody cried racism. Any tragedy like this is just that—a terrible tragedy for those involved.

I think this is an ample demonstration of what happens when a population grows dependent on the government for their daily sustenance. Their ability to take care of themselves atrophies like an unused muscle. For instance, a year later horrific floods hit Iowa and other parts along the Mississippi, and I read that the extent of flooding and the number of dwellings lost exceeded that of Katrina but what you didn't hear was anybody bellyaching about what a conspiracy it was. Those folks in the heartland are used to fending for themselves in disaster as in daily life—as human beings have done for millennia. Help did not come to them any faster than it did in New Orleans. But no documentaries were made of it.

Thank you very much for your outstanding comments. You made many keen observations and I appreciate your quick mind.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 14, 2012:

suzettenaples— I am glad you enjoyed this piece. I have been to New Orleans several times and it was great fun. Once I even went to Mardi Gras!

I don't know of any other American city with such a fascinating history. I appreciate the visit and your kind compliments. Thank you as well for the voted up. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 14, 2012:

Michele Travis— You are most welcome, dear. It has been a while since we have interacted. I hope all has been well. I will come by soon to see what you've been writing lately. It is good to hear from you.

I love learning too. I am glad you enjoyed this article and found it interesting. Thank you for saying so! :-)

And for the voted up!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 14, 2012:

wetnosedogs— Thank you! Thank you very much. And you are welcome.

misshill from United States on October 14, 2012:

I visited New Orleans back in the mid-1990s; it almost seemed and felt like a different country. Good article with lots of good information in it.

Marcia Ours on October 14, 2012:

Strange and different type of place, for sure!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 14, 2012:

rcrumple— Thank you for your kind comments. I appreciate this visitation from you. I hope this article isn't too long. As it is, I whacked it down quite a bit. There is a lot to know about New Orleans! :)


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 14, 2012:

Kaie Arwen— Thank you for being my first visitor! It is quite an honor to receive you here. New Orleans may not be for everyone, but it is something to see, especially if you never have.



GNelson from Florida on October 14, 2012:

Great hub! I can not drive by on I-10 without stopping. Love the history, the party and the Jazz. First time I went to New Orleans was January 1969, payphones were a nickel. And the bars never closed. Didn't get much sleep. Did I mention the food? Great place!!

Juanita Holloway-Walters from Kemah, TX on October 14, 2012:

Thumb up and several check marks. Wow. Love History. Enjoyed the read, and I learned a few things I had not read before. Thanks!

New Orleans is okay for a 2 or 3 day visit, then I am ready to go home (Texas Gulf Coast).

Dianna Mendez on October 13, 2012:

You have done a remarkable job on covering the history of New Orleans. I have never been there, but know of the events that draw people there annually. I have learned much today from your hub post. Voted up.

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on October 13, 2012:

Great hub! Love the detailed history and the selection of images. This should be read by all the people who asked "So, who cares?" when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. It didn't just ruin a city, it damaged a beautiful piece of American (and other) cultural history. Voting up!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 13, 2012:

Hi, James....This is a truly marvelous and thorough history/examination of the unique city that is New Orleans. Since I grew up and spent part of my young adulthood in extreme south Mississippi near the south Louisiana border, I've visited New Orleans many times. The atmosphere, food and true "melting pot" diversity of cultures and people in the Big Easy are memorable.

I recently received a phone call from a woman contacting me for a business purpose. She did not have to tell me (though she did) that she is a native New Orleanian because the accent gave her away in her first sentence. I've always pronounced the city's name "New Or-Leens", but those who grow up there or spend much of their time in the city tend to call it "New Awlins."

Voted Up+++ and sharing....Those who know N.O. will love this article. Those who don't...should.


Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on October 13, 2012:

Hi James my friend. Great hub on the history of New Orleans Louisiana very interesting and fascinating facts about it's people and culture and how it was founded . Well done !

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on October 13, 2012:

I remember reading about the evacuation of New Orleans during Katrina. It was estimated that the percentage of people who stayed would be similar to any city during an emergency. It is hard to realize how difficult it is to move so many people quickly. Some families had members who were too sick or fragile to move. Others simply had no way out. Some felt they needed to stay to protect their property and belongings from possible looting.

I know, living where I do, that many think it's foolish to live in an area that could be so threatened by weather. There are so many place in this country that could face such danger. I remember flying over the Mississippi River after a huge flooding event. People I know wondered why folks would live so close to a river prone to flooding. But when I saw how far the flood spread, it was amazing. One famous hurricane, I think it was Hugo, devastated areas that were 150 miles from the ocean. One would think that being 150 miles away from the sea would be safe.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on October 13, 2012:

James, I enjoyed reading this. I have never been to New Orleans or the French Quarter. After reading this great history of the city, I must go there to visit someday. You seem to have covered everything I need to know about New Orleans. The voodoo parts of information was so interesting, as I knew nothing about that! Great article - voted up!

Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on October 13, 2012:

Thank you for writing this hub. I knew nothing about the history of New Orleans. Well, not a lot about New Orleans at all. Very interesting, thank you very much. I love learning something when I read a hub!

Voted up.

wetnosedogs from Alabama on October 13, 2012:

Fantastic hub. This is so interesting. Sure learned a lot. Thanks for the write up.

Rich from Kentucky on October 12, 2012:

James - Very detailed hub. Many don't know that Mardi Gras took place in Mobile first, and then made it's way to New Orleans. Living in Mobile for 14 years, that fact was one a point was made of every year. A bounty of information here and a Great Hub!

Kaie Arwen on October 12, 2012:

JJRBJ- What a perfect way to begin the weekend........ fascinating. It's no wonder my father told me I wasn't to go here.......... but we will........ someday!

On another note........ there's a song I need to find. It fits perfectly....... ILYFAA-AML~YK

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