- Levees Not War - http://www.leveesnotwar.org -

Happy 295th Birthday, New Orleans!

Nouvelle-Orléans.1721 [1]

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Bonne fête à La Nouvelle-Orléans! Un joyeux anniversaire!

Now entering its 296th year, the city of New Orleans was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, on May 7, 1718.

The map above shows the city as it appeared about 1721, when the settlement of La Nouvelle-Orléans, on the high ground along the edge of a bend in the Mississippi River, was laid out as 14 blocks, with a drainage ditch around each block.

The first map below depicts the city and environs as it appeared in 1798, five years before the Louisiana Purchase (click here [2] to enlarge). The second map below shows the city in 1763, the year France ceded the settlement to Spain (only to take it back in 1801, and then turn around and sell it to the United States in 1803). The “city,” of course, was then what is today known as the French Quarter. Click here [3] for a timeline of the city’s history.

Better yet, read Richard Campanella’s excellent Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans [4] (2008). See also Lawrence N. Powell’s The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans [5] (2012) and Craig E. Colten’s An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature [6] (2006). Many more sources about New Orleans are listed on our Literature [7] page.

Here’s to 295 more years—though we worry [8] about how much of the city will remain above water in the year 2308.

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1798

NewOrleans1763

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