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New Orleans ( , , or by locals, by many non-locals, and in ) is a major U.S.marker port and the largest city in the state of Louisianamarker. New Orleans is the center of the New Orleans Metropolitan Area, the largest metro area in the state.

New Orleans is located in southeastern Louisiana, straddling the Mississippi River. The boundaries of the city and Orleans Parish are the same. It is bounded by the parishes of St. Tammanymarker (north), St. Bernardmarker (east), Plaqueminesmarker (south) and Jefferson (south and west). Lake Pontchartrainmarker, part of which is included in the city limits, lies to the north and Lake Borgnemarker lies to the east.

The city is named after Philippe II, Duc d'Orléans, Regent of France, and is well known for its multicultural and multilingual heritage, cuisine, architecture, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz), and its annual celebrations and festivals, particularly Mardi Gras. The city is often referred to as the "most unique"The term "most unique" is grammatically controversial. See for example:

Merriam-Webster Dictionary of American Usage, Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1994.

Fowler, Henry, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA, 2003.

Nicholson, Margaret, A Dictionary of American English Usage, New York: Oxford University Press, 1957. city in America.

History

Beginnings through the 19th century

La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans) was founded May 7, 1718, by the French Mississippi Company, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, on land inhabited by the Chitimacha. It was named for Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who was Regent of France at the time. His title came from the French city of Orléansmarker. The French colony was ceded to the Spanish Empire in the Treaty of Paris and remained under Spanish control until 1801, when it reverted to French control. All of the surviving 18th century architecture of the Vieux Carré (French Quartermarker) dates from this Spanish period. Napoleon sold the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Thereafter, the city grew rapidly with influxes of Americans, French, Creoles, Irish, Germans and Africans. Major commodity crops of sugar and cotton were cultivated with slave labor on large plantations outside the city.



The Haitian Revolution of 1804 established the second republic in the Western Hemisphere and the first led by blacks. Haitian refugees, both white and free people of color (affranchis or gens de couleur libres), arrived in New Orleans, often bringing slaves with them. While Governor Claiborne and other officials wanted to keep out more free black men, French Creoles wanted to increase the French-speaking population. As more refugees were allowed in Louisiana, Haitian émigrés who had gone to Cubamarker also arrived. Nearly 90 percent of the new immigrants settled in New Orleans. The 1809 migration brought 2,731 whites; 3,102 free persons of African descent; and 3,226 enslaved refugees to the city, doubling its French-speaking population.

During the last campaign of the War of 1812, the Britishmarker sent their best forces to conquer New Orleans. Despite great challenges, the young Andrew Jackson successfully cobbled together a motley crew of local militia, free persons of color, United States regulars, Kentucky riflemen and area pirates to decisively defeat the British troops, led by Sir Edward Pakenham, in the Battle of New Orleansmarker on January 8, 1815.

As a principal port, New Orleans played a major role during the antebellum era in the Atlantic slave trade. Its port handled huge quantities of commodities for export from the interior and imported goods from other countries, which were warehoused and then transferred in New Orleans to smaller vessels and distributed the length and breadth of the vast Mississippi River watershed. The river in front of the city was filled with steamboats, flatboats, and sailing ships. Despite its dealings with the slave trade, New Orleans at the same time had the largest and most prosperous community of free persons of color in the nation, who were often educated and middle-class property owners.

The population of the city doubled in the 1830s and by 1840, New Orleans had become the wealthiest and third-most populous city in the nation. Dwarfing in population the other cities in the antebellum South, New Orleans had, consequently, the largest slave market. Two-thirds of the more than one million slaves brought to the Deep South arrived via the forced migration of the internal slave trade. The money generated by sales of slaves in the Upper South has been estimated at fifteen percent of the value of the staple crop economy. The slaves represented half a billion dollars in property, and an ancillary economy grew up around the trade in slaves for transportation, housing and clothing, fees, etc., estimated at 13.5 percent of the price per person. All of this amounted to tens of billions of dollars during the antebellum period, with New Orleans as a prime beneficiary.



The Union captured New Orleans early in the American Civil War, sparing the city the destruction suffered by many other cities of the American South.

During Reconstruction New Orleans was within the Fifth Military District of the United States. Louisiana was readmitted to the Union in 1868, and its Constitution of 1868 granted universal manhood suffrage. Due to the state's large African American population, many blacks held public office. In 1872, then-lieutenant governor P.B.S. Pinchback succeeded Henry Clay Warmouth as governor of Louisianamarker, becoming the first non-white governor of a U.S. state, and the last African American to lead a U.S. state until Douglas Wilder's election in Virginia, 117 years later. In New Orleans, Reconstruction was marked by the horrible Mechanics Institute race riot (1866) but also by the successful operation of a fully racially-integrated public school system. Meanwhile, the city's economy struggled to right itself after practically grinding to a halt upon the declaration of war in 1861, the nationwide Panic of 1873 conspiring to severely retard economic recovery.

Reconstruction ended in Louisiana in 1877, and white southern Democrats, the so-called Redeemers, succeeded in stripping power from the Republican Party and gradually circumscribing the only recently-acquired civil rights of African Americans. In New Orleans, the public schools were resegregated and remained so until 1960.

New Orleans' large community of well-educated, often French-speaking free persons of color (gens de couleur libres), who had not been enslaved prior to the Civil War, sought to fight back against the incipient forces of Jim Crow. As part of their ongoing campaign, they recruited one of their own, Homer Plessy to test whether Louisiana's newly-enacted Separate Car Act was constitutional. Plessy duly boarded a commuter train departing New Orleans for Covington, Louisianamarker, sat in the car reserved for whites only and was arrested. The case spawned by this incident, Plessy v. Ferguson, was heard by the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker in 1896. The court, in finding that "separate but equal" accommodations were constitutional, strengthened by effectively consecrating the already-underway Jim Crow movement. The ruling was a key development in the nadir of race relations reached during this period.

Twentieth century



New Orleans reached its most consequential position as an economic and population center in relation to other American cities in the decades prior to 1860; as late as that year it was the nation's fifth-largest city and by far the largest in the American South. Though New Orleans continued to grow in size, from the mid-19th century onwards, first the emerging industrial and railroad hubs of the Midwest overtook the city in population, then the rapidly growing metropolises of the Pacific Coast in the decades before and after the turn of the 20th century, then other Sun Beltmarker cities in the South and West in the post-World War II period surpassed New Orleans in population. Consequently, New Orleans has periodically mounted attempts to regain its economic vigor and pre-eminence over the past 150 years, with varying degrees of success.

By the mid-20th century, New Orleanians were observing with concern that the city was even ceding its traditional ranking as the leading urban area in the South. By 1950, Houstonmarker, Dallasmarker and Atlantamarker (along with Seattlemarker, outside of the South) had surpassed New Orleans in size, and 1960 witnessed Miami'smarker eclipse of New Orleans, even as New Orleans' population was recorded as reaching its historic peak by the 1960 Census. Like most older American cities in this period, New Orleans' center city commenced losing inhabitants, though the New Orleans metropolitan area continued expanding in population - just never as rapidly as its metropolitan peers in the Sun Belt. While the port remained one of the largest in the nation, automation and containerization resulted in significant job losses. The city's relative fall in stature meant that its former role as banker and financial services provider to the South was inexorably supplanted by competing companies in its now-larger peer cities. New Orleans' economy was always more of a trade-based, commercial entrepot than manufacturing powerhouse, but the city's smallish manufacturing sector also shrank in the post-World War II period. Despite some economic development successes under the administrations of DeLesseps "Chep" Morrison (1946-1961) and Vic Schiro (1961-1970), metropolitan New Orleans' growth rate consistently lagged behind the more vigorous Sun Beltmarker cities.



During the later years of Morrison's administration, and for the entirety of Schiro's, the city struggled to digest the ramifications of the legal enfranchisement of its sizable African-American population. New Orleans was very much at the center of the Civil Rights struggle. The SCLC was founded in the city, lunch counter sit-ins were held in Canal Street stores, and a very prominent and ugly series of confrontations occurred when the city attempted school desegregation, in 1960. That episode witnessed the first occasion of a black child attending an all-white elementary school in the South, when six year-old Ruby Bridges integrated William Frantz Elementary School in the city's Ninth Ward. The Civil Rights movement's success in realizing the desegregation of public facilities and schools, and the enfranchisement of the black voter, constituted the most significant event in New Orleans' 20th century history. Though legal equality was established by the end of the 1960s, a yawning gap in income levels and educational attainment persisted between the city's white and black communities. The effects of this gap were amplified by accelerating white flight, as the city's population grew poorer and blacker. New Orleans' political leadership, from 1980 onwards firmly in the hands of its African-American majority, struggled to narrow this gap by creating conditions conducive to the economic uplift of the black community.

New Orleans became increasingly dependent on tourism as an economic mainstay, arguably fatally so by the administrations of Sidney Barthelemy (1986-1994) and Marc Morial (1994-2002). Unimpressive levels of educational attainment, high rates of household poverty and rising crime became increasingly problematic in the later decades of the century, with the negative effects of these socioeconomic conditions newly amplified as the United States economy increasingly rested upon a post-industrial, knowledge-based paradigm where brains were far more important than brawn.



The turn of the 20th century witnessed one of the earlier episodes in the ongoing series of energetic recommitments to jump-starting economic growth on the part of New Orleans' government and business leaders. The most portentous development during this period was a drainage plan devised by engineer and inventor A. Baldwin Wood and designed to break the surrounding swamp's stranglehold on the city's geographic expansion. Until then, urban development in New Orleans was largely limited to higher ground along the natural river levees and bayous. Wood's pump system allowed the city to drain huge tracts of swamp and marshland and expand into low-lying areas. Over the 20th century, rapid subsidence, both natural and human-induced, left these newly-populated areas several feet below sea level.

New Orleans was vulnerable to flooding even before the city's footprint departed from the natural high ground near the Mississippi River. In the late 20th century, however, scientists and New Orleans residents gradually became aware of the city's increased vulnerability. In 1965, Hurricane Betsy killed dozens of residents, even though the majority of the city remained dry. The rain-induced flood of May 8, 1995 demonstrated the weakness of the pumping system. After that event, measures were undertaken to dramatically upgrade pumping capacity. By the 1980s and 90s, it was worrisomely clear that extensive, rapid and ongoing erosion of the marshlands and swamp surrounding New Orleans had left the city far more exposed to hurricane-induced catastrophic storm surges than it had ever before been in its history.

Geography

Elevation of New Orleans
New Orleans is located at (29.964722, −90.070556) on the banks of the Mississippi River, approximately upriver from the Gulf of Mexicomarker. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which , or 51.55%, is land.

The city is located in the Mississippi River Deltamarker on the east and west banks of the Mississippi River and south of Lake Pontchartrainmarker. The area along the river is characterized by ridges and hollows.

New Orleans was originally settled on the natural levees or high ground, along the Mississippi River. In fact, when the capital of French Louisiana was moved from Mobile, Alabamamarker to New Orleans, the French colonial government cited New Orleans' inland location as one of the reasons for the move, as it would be less vulnerable to hurricanes. After the Flood Control Act of 1965, the United States Army Corps of Engineers built floodwalls and man-made levees around a much larger geographic footprint that included previous marshland and swamp. Whether or not this human interference has caused subsidence is a topic of debate. A study by an associate professor at Tulane Universitymarker claims:

On the other hand, a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers claims that "New Orleans is subsiding (sinking)":

Vertical cross-section of New Orleans, showing maximum levee height of


A recent study by Tulanemarker and Xavier Universitymarker notes that 51% of New Orleans is at or above sea level, with the more densely populated areas generally on higher ground. The average elevation of the city is currently between one and two feet (0.5 m) below sea level, with some portions of the city as high as at the base of the river levee in Uptownmarker and others as low as below sea level in the farthest reaches of Eastern New Orleans.

In 2005, storm surge from Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic failure of the federally designed and built levees, flooding 80% of the city. A report by the American Society of Civil Engineers says that "had the levees and floodwalls not failed and had the pump stations operated, nearly two-thirds of the deaths would not have occurred".

New Orleans has always had to consider the risk of hurricanes, but the risks are dramatically greater today due to coastal erosion from human interference. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it has been estimated that Louisiana has lost of coast (including many of its barrier islands), which once protected New Orleans against storm surge. Following Hurricane Katrina, the United States Army Corps of Engineers has instituted massive levee repair and hurricane protection measures to protect the city.

In 2006, Louisiana voters overwhelmingly adopted an amendment to the state's constitution to dedicate all revenues from off-shore drilling to restore Louisiana's eroding coast line. Congress has allocated $7 billion to bolster New Orleans' flood protection.

National protected areas



Climate

The climate of New Orleans is humid subtropical (Koppen climate classification Cfa), with short, generally mild winters and hot, humid summers. In January, morning lows average around , and daily highs around . In July, lows average , and highs average . The lowest recorded temperature was on February 13, 1899. The highest recorded temperature was on August 22, 1980. The average precipitation is annually; the summer months are the wettest, while October is the driest month. Precipitation in winter usually accompanies the passing of a cold front.

Hurricanes pose a severe threat to the area, and the city is particularly at risk because of its low elevation, and because it is surrounded by water from the north, east, and south, and Louisiana's sinking coast. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, New Orleans is the nation's most vulnerable city to hurricanes. Since 1965, portions of New Orleans have been flooded by four different storms: Hurricane Betsy, Hurricane Georges, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Rita.

New Orleans experiences snowfall only on rare occasions. A small amount of snow fell during the 2004 Christmas Eve Snowstorm. On December 25, a combination of rain, sleet, and snow fell on the city, leaving some bridges icy. Before that, the last white Christmas was in 1954 and brought . The last significant snowfall in New Orleans fell on December 22, 1989, when most of the city received of snow. Also in the morning of December 11, 2008, snow fell, followed by sleet.

Cityscape



The Central Business Districtmarker of New Orleans is located immediately north and west of the Mississippi River, and was historically called the "American Quarter" or "American Sector," and it includes Lafayette Square. Most streets in this area fan out from a central point in the city. Major streets of the area include Canal Street, Poydras Street, Tulane Avenue and Loyola Avenue. Canal Street functions as the street which divides the traditional "downtown" area from the "uptown" area.

Every street crossing Canal Street between the Mississippi River and Rampart Street, which is the northern edge of the French Quarter, has a different name for the "uptown" and "downtown" portions. For example, St. Charles Avenue, known for its street car line, is called Royal Street below Canal Street. Elsewhere in the city, Canal Street serves as the dividing point between the "South" and "North" portions of various streets. In the local parlance downtown means "downriver from Canal Street", while uptown means "upriver from Canal Street". Downtown neighborhoods include the French Quartermarker, Tremémarker, the 7th Ward, Faubourg Marignymarker, Bywatermarker (the Upper Ninth Ward), and the Lower Ninth Ward. Uptown neighborhoods include the Warehouse District, the Lower Garden Districtmarker, the Garden Districtmarker, the Irish Channelmarker, the University District, Carrolltonmarker, Gert Townmarker, Fontainebleaumarker, and Broadmoormarker. However, the Warehouse and the Central Business Districtmarker, despite being above Canal Street, are frequently called "Downtown" as a specific region, as in the Downtown Development District.

Other major districts within the city include Bayou St. Johnmarker, Mid-Citymarker, Gentilly, Lakeviewmarker, Lakefront, New Orleans East, and Algiersmarker.

Architecture

Houses on Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans is world-famous for its abundance of unique architectural styles which reflect the city's historical roots and multicultural heritage. Though New Orleans possesses numerous structures of national architectural significance, it is equally, if not more, revered for its enormous, largely-intact (even post-Katrina) historic built environment. Twenty National Register Historic Districts have been established, and fourteen local historic districts aid in the preservation of this tout ensemble. Thirteen of the local historic districts are administered by the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC), while one - the French Quarter - is administered by the Vieux Carre Commission (VCC). Additionally, both the National Park Service, via the National Register of Historic Places, and the HDLC have landmarked individual buildings, many of which lie outside the boundaries of existing historic districts.

Many styles of housing exist in the city, including the shotgun house (originating from New Orleans) and the bungalow style. Creole townhouses, notable for their large courtyards and intricate iron balconies, line the streets of the French Quartermarker. Throughout the city, there are many other historic housing styles: Creole cottages, American townhouses, double-gallery houses, and Raised Center-Hall Cottages. St. Charles Avenue is famed for its large antebellum homes. Its mansions are in various styles, such as Greek Revival, American Colonial and the Victorian styles of Queen Anne and Italianate architecture. New Orleans is also noted for its large, European-style Catholic cemeteries, which can be found throughout the city.

For much of its history, New Orleans' skyline consisted of only low- and mid-rise structures. The soft soils of New Orleans are susceptible to subsidence, and there was doubt about the feasibility of constructing large high rises in such an environment. The 1960s brought the World Trade Center New Orleans and Plaza Towermarker, which demonstrated that high rises could stand firm on New Orleans' soil. One Shell Squaremarker took its place as the city's tallest building in 1972. The oil boom of the early 1980s redefined New Orleans' skyline again with the development of the Poydras Street corridor. Today, New Orleans' high rises are clustered along Canal Street and Poydras Street in the Central Business Districtmarker.

Culture and contemporary life

Tourism

New Orleans has many major attractions, from the world-renowned French Quartermarker and Bourbon Street's notorious nightlife to St. Charles Avenue (home of Tulanemarker and Loyola Universities, the historic Pontchartrain Hotel, and many 19th century mansions), to Magazine Street, with its many boutique stores and antique shops.



According to current travel guides, New Orleans is one of the top ten most visited cities in the United States; 10.1 million visitors came to New Orleans in 2004, and the city was on pace to break that level of visitation in 2005. Prior to Katrina, there were 265 hotels with 38,338 rooms in the Greater New Orleans Area. In May 2007, there were over 140 hotels and motels in operation with over 31,000 rooms.

A CNN poll released in October 2007 ranked New Orleans first in eight categories, behind only New York Citymarker, which ranked first in 15. According to the poll, New Orleans is the best U.S. city for live music, cocktail hours, flea markets, antique shopping, nightlife, "wild weekends", "girlfriend getaways" and cheap food. The city also ranked second for gay friendliness, overall food and dining, friendliness of residents, and people-watching, behind San Franciscomarker, Californiamarker, Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker, Charleston, South Carolinamarker, and New York City, respectively. However, among the top 25 U.S. travel destinations as established by the poll, the city was voted last in terms of safety and cleanliness and near the bottom as a family vacation destination.

The French Quarter (known locally as "the Quarter" or Vieux Carré), which dates from the French and Spanish eras and is bounded by the Mississippi River, Rampart Street, Canal Street, and Esplanade Avenue, contains many popular hotels, bars, and nightclubs. Notable tourist attractions in the Quarter include Bourbon Street, Jackson Squaremarker, St. Louis Cathedralmarker, the French Market (including Café du Mondemarker, famous for café au lait and beignets) and Preservation Hall. To tour the port, one can ride the Natchez, an authentic steamboat with a calliope, which cruises the Mississippi the length of the city twice daily. The city's many beautiful cemeteries and their distinct above-ground tombsmarker are often attractions in themselves, the oldest and most famous of which, Saint Louis Cemeterymarker, greatly resembles Père Lachaise Cemeterymarker in Parismarker.


Also located in the French Quarter is the old New Orleans Mintmarker, a former branch of the United States Mint, which now operates as a museum, and The Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum and research center housing art and artifacts relating to the history of New Orleans and the Gulf South. The National World War II Museummarker, opened in the Warehouse District in 2000 as the "National D-Day Museum", is dedicated to providing information and materials related to the Invasion of Normandymarker. Nearby, Confederate Memorial Hall, the oldest continually operating museum in Louisiana (although under renovation since Katrina), contains the second-largest collection of Confederate memorabilia in the world. Art museums in the city include the Contemporary Arts Centermarker, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Artmarker.

New Orleans also boasts a decidedly natural side. It is home to the Audubon Nature Institute (which consists of Audubon Parkmarker, the Audubon Zoomarker, the Aquarium of the Americas, and the Audubon Insectarium), as well as gardens that include Longue Vue House and Gardensmarker and the New Orleans Botanical Gardenmarker. City Park, one of the country's most expansive and visited urban parks, has one of the largest (if not the largest) stands of oak trees in the world.

There are also various points of interest in the surrounding areas. Many wetlands are in close proximity to the city, including Honey Island Swamp. Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemeterymarker, located just south of the city, is the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleansmarker.

Entertainment and performing arts

The New Orleans area is home to numerous celebrations, the most popular of which is Carnival, often referred to as Mardi Gras. Carnival officially begins on the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as the "Twelfth Night." Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday"), the final and grandest day of festivities, is the last Tuesday before the Catholic liturgical season of Lent, which commences on Ash Wednesday.

The largest of the city's many music festivals is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Commonly referred to simply as "Jazz Fest", it is one of the largest music festivals in the nation, featuring crowds of people from all over the world, coming to experience music, food, arts, and crafts. Despite the name, it features not only jazz but a large variety of music, including both native Louisiana music and international artists. Along with Jazz Fest, New Orleans' Voodoo Experience ("Voodoo Fest") and the Essence Music Festival are both large music festivals featuring local and international artists.

Other major festivals held in the city include Southern Decadence, the French Quarter Festival, and the Tennessee Williams/ New Orleans Literary Festival.

In 2002, Louisiana began offering tax incentives for film and television production. This led to a substantial increase in the number of films shot in the New Orleans area and brought the nickname "Hollywood South." Films which have been filmed or produced in and around New Orleans include: Ray, Runaway Jury, The Pelican Brief, Glory Road, All the King's Men, Déjà Vu, Last Holiday, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and numerous others. In 2006, work began on the Louisiana Film & Television studio complex, based in the Trememarker neighborhood. Louisiana began to offer similar tax incentives for music and theater productions in 2007, leading many to begin referring to New Orleans as "Broadway South."

New Orleans has always been a significant center for music, showcasing its intertwined European, Latin American, and African cultures. New Orleans' unique musical heritage was born in its pre-American and early American days from a unique blending of European instruments with African rhythms. As the only North American city to allow slaves to gather in public and play their native music (largely in Congo Square, now located within Louis Armstrong Parkmarker), New Orleans gave birth to an indigenous music: jazz. Soon, brass bands formed, gaining popular attraction that still holds today. The city's music was later significantly influenced by Acadiana, home of Cajun and Zydeco music, and Delta blues.

New Orleans' unique musical culture is further evident in its funerals. A spin on the tradition of military brass band funerals, traditional New Orleans funerals feature sad music (mostly dirges and hymns) on the way to the cemetery and happier music (hot jazz) on the way back. Such traditional musical funerals still take place when a local musician, a member of a club, krewe, or benevolent society, or a noted dignitary has passed. Until the 1990s, most locals preferred to call these "funerals with music", but visitors to the city have long dubbed them "jazz funerals".

Much later in its musical development, New Orleans was home to a distinctive brand of rhythm and blues that contributed greatly to the growth of rock and roll. An example of the New Orleans' sound in the 1960s is the #1 US hit "Chapel of Love" by the Dixie Cups, a song which knocked The Beatles out of the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100. New Orleans became a hotbed for funk music in the 1960s and 1970s, and by the late 1980s, it had developed its own localized variant of hip hop, called bounce music. While never commercially successful outside of the Deep South, it remained immensely popular in the poorer neighborhoods of the city throughout the 1990s.

A cousin of bounce, New Orleans hip hop has seen commercial success locally and internationally, producing Lil Wayne, Master P, Birdman, Juvenile, Cash Money Records, and No Limit Records. Additionally, the wave of popularity of cowpunk, a fast form of southern rock, originated with the help of several local bands, such as The Radiators, Better Than Ezra, Cowboy Mouth, and Dash Rip Rock. Throughout the 1990s, many sludge metal bands started in the area. New Orleans' heavy metal bands like Eyehategod, Soilent Green, Crowbar, and Down have incorporated styles such as hardcore punk, doom metal, and southern rock to create an original and heady brew of swampy and aggravated metal that has largely avoided standardization.

New Orleans is the southern terminus of the famed Highway 61.

Media

The major daily newspaper is the The Times-Picayune, publishing since 1837. Weekly publications include The Louisiana Weekly and Gambit Weekly. Also in wide circulation is the Clarion Herald, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Greater New Orleans is the 54th largest Designated Market Area (DMA) in the U.S., serving 566,960 homes. Major television network affiliates serving the area include:







.

Two radio stations that were influential in promoting New Orleans-based bands and singers were 50,000-watt WNOE-AM (1060) and 10,000-watt WTIX-AM (690). These two stations competed head-to-head from the late 1950s to the late 1970s.

WWOZ, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station, broadcasts, 24 hours per day, modern and traditional jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, brass band, gospel, cajun, zydeco, Caribbean, Latin, Brazilian, African, bluegrass, and Irish at 90.7 FM and at www.wwoz.org.

WTUL, a local college radio station (Tulane University), broadcasts a wide array of programming, including twentieth-century classical, reggae, jazz, showtunes, indie rock, electronic music, soul/funk, goth, punk, hip hop, New Orleans music, opera, folk, hardcore, Americana, country, blues, Latin, cheese, techno, local, world, ska, swing and big band, kids shows, and even news programming from DemocracyNow. WTUL is listener supported and non-commercial. The disc jockeys are volunteers, many of them college students.

Louisiana's film and television tax credits have spurred some growth in the television industry, although to a lesser degree than in the film industry. K-Ville, a cop drama series set in post-Katrina New Orleans, aired on the Fox Network in 2007. Filming of the X-Men Origins: Wolverine took place in the city in early 2008 (although most of the filming took place in Australia and New Zealandmarker).

Food



New Orleans is world-famous for its food. The indigenous cuisine is distinctive and influential. From centuries of amalgamation of the local Creole, haute Creole, and New Orleans French cuisines, New Orleans food has developed. Local ingredients, French, Spanish, Italian, African, Native American, Cajun, and a hint of Cuban traditions combine to produce a truly unique and easily recognizable Louisiana flavor.

Unique specialties include beignets (locally pronounced like "ben-yays"), square-shaped fried pastries that could be called "French doughnuts" (served with café au lait made with a blend of coffee and chicory rather than only coffee); Po' boy and Italian Muffuletta sandwiches; Gulf oysters on the half-shell, fried oysters, boiled crawfish, and other seafood; étouffée, jambalaya, gumbo, and other Creole dishes; and the Monday favorite of red beans and rice. (Louis Armstrong often signed his letters, "Red beans and ricely yours".) Another New Orleans specialty is the Praline (locally pronounced as /ˈprɑːliːn/, not /ˈpreliːn/), a candy made with brown sugar, granulated sugar, cream, butter, and pecans.

Dialect

New Orleans has developed a distinctive local dialect of American English over the years that is neither Cajun nor the stereotypical Southern accent, so often misportrayed by film and television actors. It does, like earlier Southern Englishes, feature frequent deletion of the post-vocalic "r". This dialect is quite similar to New Yorkmarker "Brooklynese", to people unfamiliar with either. There are many theories to how it came to be, but it likely resulted from New Orleans' geographic isolation by water and the fact that the city was a major immigration port throughout the 19th century. As a result, many of the ethnic groups who reside in Brooklyn also reside in New Orleans, such as the Irish, Italian (especially Sicilians), and German, among others, as well as a very sizable Jewish community.

One of the strongest varieties of the New Orleans accent is sometimes identified as the Yat dialect, from the greeting "Where y'at?" This distinctive accent is dying out generation by generation in the city itself, but remains very strong in the surrounding parishes.

Less visibly, various ethnic groups throughout the area have retained their distinctive language traditions to this day. Although rare, Kreyol Lwiziyen is still spoken by the Creoles. Also rare, an archaic Louisiana-Canarian Spanish dialect is spoken by the Isleño people, but it can usually only be heard by older members of the population.

Sports

New Orleans' professional sports teams include the New Orleans Saints (NFL), the New Orleans Hornets (NBA), and the New Orleans Zephyrs (PCL). It is also home to the Big Easy Rollergirls, an all-female flat track roller derby team, and the New Orleans Blaze, a women's football team. A local group of investors began conducting a study in 2007 to see if the city could support a Major League Soccer team.

The Louisiana Superdomemarker is the home of the Saints, the Sugar Bowl, and other prominent events. It has hosted the Super Bowl a record six times (1978, 1981, 1986, 1990, 1997, 2002) and will host again in 2013. The New Orleans Arenamarker is the home of the Hornets and many events that aren't large enough to need the Superdome. New Orleans is also home to the Fair Grounds Race Coursemarker, the nation's third-oldest thoroughbred track. The city's Lakefront Arenamarker has also been home to sporting events.

Each year New Orleans plays host to the Sugar Bowl, the New Orleans Bowl and the Zurich Classic, a golf tournament on the PGA Tour. In addition, it has often hosted major sporting events that have no permanent home, such as the Super Bowl, ArenaBowl, NBA All-Star Game, BCS National Championship Game, and the NCAA Final Four.

Economy

New Orleans is home to one of the largest and busiest ports in the world, and metropolitan New Orleans is a center of maritime industry. The New Orleans region also accounts for a significant portion of the nation's oil refining and petrochemical production, and serves as a white collar corporate base for onshore and offshore petroleum and natural gas production. New Orleans is a center for higher learning, with over 50,000 students enrolled in the region's eleven two- and four-year degree granting institutions. A top 50 research university, Tulane Universitymarker, is located in New Orleans' Uptown neighborhood. Metropolitan New Orleans is a major regional hub for the health care industry and boasts a small, globally-competitive manufacturing sector. The center city possesses a rapidly growing, entrepreneurial creative industries sector, and is, of course, renowned for its cultural tourism. Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.)[8634] acts as the first point-of-contact for regional economic development and is slotted between Louisiana's Department of Economic Development and the various parochial business development agencies.

New Orleans came into being to act as a strategically-located trading entrepot, and it remains, above all, a crucial transportation hub and distribution center for waterborne commerce. The Port of New Orleans is the 5th-largest port in the United States based on volume of cargo handled, second-largest in the state after the Port of South Louisiana, and 12th-largest in the U.S., based on value of cargo. The Port of South Louisiana, also based in the New Orleans area, is the world's busiest in terms of bulk tonnage and, when combined with the Port of New Orleans, it forms the 4th-largest port system in volume handled. Many shipbuilding, shipping, logistics, freight forwarding and commodity brokerage firms either call metropolitan New Orleans home or maintain a large local presence. Examples include Intermarine, Bisso Towboat, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Trinity Yachts, Expeditors International, Bollinger Shipyards, IMTT, International Coffee Corp, Boasso America, Transoceanic Shipping, and Silocaf. The largest coffee-roasting plant in the world, operated by Folgers, is located in New Orleans East.

Like Houstonmarker, New Orleans is located in proximity to the Gulf of Mexicomarker and the many oil rigs that lie just offshore. Louisiana ranks fifth in oil production and eighth in reserves in the United States. It is also home to two of the four Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) storage facilities: West Hackberry in Cameron Parishmarker and Bayou Choctaw in Iberville Parishmarker. Other infrastructure includes 17 petroleum refineries with a combined crude oil distillation capacity of nearly , the second highest in the nation after Texas. Louisiana's numerous ports include the Louisiana Offshore Oil Portmarker (LOOP), which is capable of receiving ultra large oil tankers. Given the quantity of oil importing, Louisiana is home to many major pipelines supplying the nation: Crude Oil (Exxon, Chevron, BP, Texaco, Shell, Scurloch-Permian, Mid-Valley, Calumet, Conoco, Koch Industries, Unocal, U.S. Dept. of Energy, Locap); Product (TEPPCO Partners, Colonial, Plantation, Explorer, Texaco, Collins); and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Dixie, TEPPCO, Black Lake, Koch, Chevron, Dynegy, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, Dow Chemical Company, Bridgeline, FMP, Tejas, Texaco, UTP). Several major energy companies have regional headquarters in the city or its suburbs, including Royal Dutch Shell, Eni and Chevron. Numerous other energy producers and oilfield services companies are also headquartered in the city or region, and the sector supports a large professional services base of specialized engineering and design firms, as well as an office for the federal government's Minerals Management Service.

The city is the home to a single Fortune 500 company: Entergy, a power generation utility and nuclear powerplant operations specialist. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the city lost its other Fortune 500 company, Freeport-McMoRan, when it merged its copper and gold exploration unit with an Arizona company and relocated that division to Phoenix, Arizonamarker. Its McMoRan Exploration affiliate remains headquartered in New Orleans. Other companies either headquartered or with significant operations in New Orleans include: Pan American Life Insurance, Pool Corp, Rolls-Royce, Newpark Resources, AT&T, TurboSquid, iSeatz, IBM, Navtech, Superior Energy Services, Textron Marine & Land Systems, McDermott International, Pellerin Milnor, Lockheed Martin, Imperial Trading, Laitram, Harrah's Entertainment, Stewart Enterprises, Edison Chouest Offshore, Zatarain's, Whitney National Bank, Capital One, Tidewater Marine, Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, Parsons Brinckerhoff, MWH Global, CH2M HILL and Energy Partners Ltd.

Tourism is another staple of the city's economy. Perhaps more visible than any other sector, New Orleans' tourist and convention industry is a $5.5 billion juggernaut that accounts for 40 percent of New Orleans' tax revenues. In 2004, the hospitality industry employed 85,000 people, making it New Orleans' top economic sector as measured by employment totals. The city also hosts the World Cultural Economic Forum (WCEF). The forum, held annually at the New Orleans Morial Convention Centermarker, is directed toward promoting cultural and economic development opportunities through the strategic convening of cultural ambassadors and leaders from around the world. The first WCEF took place in October 2008.

The federal government has a significant presence in the area. NASAmarker's Michoud Assembly Facilitymarker is located in New Orleans East and is operated by Lockheed Martin. It is a large manufacturing facility where the external fuel tanks for the space shuttles are produced. The Michoud facility lies within the enormous New Orleans Regional Business Park, also home to the National Finance Center, operated by the United States Department of Agriculturemarker (USDA), and the Crescent Crown distribution center. Other large governmental installations include the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, located within the University of New Orleans Research and Technology Park in Gentilly, NAS New Orleansmarker, the future headquarters for the Marine Force Reserves, slated for Federal City in Algiersmarker and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Demographics

New Orleans contains many distinctive neighborhoods.
As of the census of 2000, there were 484,674 people, 188,251 households, and 112,950 families residing in the city. The population density was . There were 215,091 housing units at an average density of . The racial makeup of the city was 67.25% African American, 28.05% White, 0.20% Native American, 2.26% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. 3.06% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

The last population estimate before Hurricane Katrina was 454,865, as of July 1, 2005. A population analysis released in August 2007 estimated the population to be 273,000, 60% of the pre-Katrina population and an increase of about 50,000 since July 2006. A September 2007 report by The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, which tracks population based on U.S. Postal Service figures, found that in August 2007, just over 137,000 households received mail. That compares with about 198,000 households in July 2005, representing about 70% of pre-Katrina population.

A 2006 study by researchers at Tulane Universitymarker and the University of California, Berkeleymarker determined that there are as many as 10,000 to 14,000 illegal immigrants, many from Mexicomarker, currently residing in New Orleans. Janet Murguía, president and chief executive officer of the National Council of La Raza, stated that there could be up to 120,000 Hispanic workers in New Orleans. In June 2007, one study stated that the Hispanic population had risen from 15,000, pre-Katrina, to over 50,000.

A recent article released by The Times-Picayune indicated that the metropolitan area had undergone a recent influx of 5,300 households in the later half of 2008, bringing the population to around 469,605 households or 88.1% of its pre-Katrina levels. While the area's population has been on an upward trajectory since the storm, much of that growth was attributed to residents returning after Katrina. Many observers predicted that growth would taper off, but the data center's analysis suggests that New Orleans and the surrounding parishes are benefiting from an economic migration resulting from the global financial crisis of 2008–2009.

Religion

New Orleans is notably absent from the Protestant Bible Belt that dominates religion in the Southern United States. In New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast area, the predominant religion is Catholicism. Within the Archdiocese of New Orleans (which includes not only the city but the surrounding Parishes as well), 35.9% percent of the population is Roman Catholic. The influence of Catholicism is reflected in many of the city's French and Spanish cultural traditions, including its many parochial schools, street names, architecture, and festivals, including Mardi Gras.

New Orleans also famously has a presence of its distinctive variety of Louisiana Voodoo, due in part to syncretism with Roman Catholic beliefs, the fame of voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau, and New Orleans' distinctly Caribbean cultural influences. Although the exotic image of Voodoo within the city has been highly promoted by the tourism industry, there are only a small number of serious adherents to the religion.

New Orleans' pre-Katrina population of 10,000 Jews has now dropped to 7,000. In the wake of Katrina, all New Orleans synagogues lost members, but were able to re-open in their original locations, except for Congregation Beth Israelmarker, the oldest and most prominent Orthodox synagogue in the New Orleans region. Beth Israel's building in Lakeview was destroyed by flooding, and it is currently in temporary quarters in Metairiemarker.

Hurricanes

Hurricane Katrina

An aerial view from a United States Navy helicopter showing floodwaters around the entire downtown New Orleans area (2005).
By the time Hurricane Katrina approached the city at the end of August 2005, most residents had evacuated. As the hurricane passed through the Gulf Coast region, the city's federal flood protection system failed, resulting in the worst civil engineering disaster in American history. Floodwalls and levees constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers failed below design specifications and 80% of the city flooded. Tens of thousands of residents who had remained in the city were rescued or otherwise made their way to shelters of last resort at the Louisiana Superdomemarker or the New Orleans Morial Convention Centermarker. Over 1,500 people died in Louisiana and some are still unaccounted for. Hurricane Katrina called for the first mandatory evacuation in the city's history, the second of which came 3 years later with Hurricane Gustav.

Hurricane Rita

The city was declared off-limits to residents while efforts to clean up after Hurricane Katrina began. The approach of Hurricane Rita in September 2005 caused repopulation efforts to be postponed, and the Lower Ninth Wardmarker was reflooded by Rita's storm surge.

Post-disaster recovery

The Census Bureau in July 2006 estimated the population of New Orleans to be 223,000; a subsequent study estimated that 32,000 additional residents had moved to the city as of March 2007, bringing the estimated population to 255,000, approximately 56% of the pre-Katrina population level. Another estimate, based on data on utility usage from July 2007, estimated the population to be approximately 274,000 or 60% of the pre-Katrina population. These estimates are somewhat smaller than a third estimate, based on mail delivery records, from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center in June 2007, which indicated that the city had regained approximately two-thirds of its pre-Katrina population.

The New Orleans cityscape as of 2007


Several major tourist events and other forms of revenue for the city have returned. Large conventions are being held again, such as those held by the American Library Association and American College of Cardiology. College football events such as the Bayou Classic, New Orleans Bowl, and Sugar Bowl returned for the 2006–2007 season. The New Orleans Saints returned that season as well, following speculation of a move. The New Orleans Hornets returned to the city fully for the 2007–2008 season, having partially spent the 2006–2007 season in Oklahoma Citymarker. New Orleans successfully hosted the 2008 NBA All-Star Game and the 2008 BCS National Championship Game. The city hosted the first and second rounds of the 2007 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. New Orleans and Tulane University will be hosting the Final Four Championship in 2012.

Major events such as Mardi Gras and the Jazz & Heritage Festival were never displaced or cancelled.

Government

New Orleans has a mayor-council government. The city council consists of five council members, who are elected by district and two at-large councilmembers. Mayor Ray Nagin was elected in May 2002 and was reelected in the mayoral election of May 20, 2006.

The Orleans Parish Civil Sheriff's Office serves papers involving lawsuits and provides security for the Civil District Court and Juvenile Courts. The Criminal Sheriff, Marlin Gusman, maintains the parish prison system, provides security for the Criminal District Court, and provides backup for the New Orleans Police Department on an as-needed basis.

The city of New Orleans and the parish of Orleans operate as a merged city-parish government. Before the city of New Orleans became co-extensive with Orleans Parish, Orleans Parish was home to numerous smaller communities. The original city of New Orleans was composed of what are now the 1st through 9th wards. The city of Lafayette (including the Garden District) was added in 1852 as the 10th and 11th wards. In 1870, Jefferson City, including Faubourg Bouligny and much of the Audubon and University areas, was annexed as the 12th, 13th, and 14th wards. Algiersmarker, on the west bank of the Mississippi, was also annexed in 1870, becoming the 15th ward. Four years later, Orleans Parish became coextensive with the city of New Orleans, when the city of Carrolltonmarker was annexed as the 16th and 17th wards.

New Orleans' government is now largely centralized in the city council and mayor's office, but it maintains a number of relics from earlier systems when various sections of the city ran much of their affairs separately. For example, New Orleans has seven elected tax assessors, each with their own staff, representing various districts of the city, rather than one centralized office. A constitutional amendment passed on November 7, 2006, will consolidate the seven assessors into one by 2010.

Federal representation

The United States Postal Service operates post offices in New Orleans. The New Orleans Main Post Office is at 701 Loyola Avenue in the Central Business Districtmarker.

Crime

New Orleans' violent crime rate is high compared with other cities in the United States. Homicides peaked at 421 in 1994, a rate of 86 per 100,000 residents. The homicide rate rose and fell year to year throughout the late 1990s, but the overall trend from 1994 to 1999 was a steady reduction in homicides. From 1999 to 2004, the homicide rate increased. New Orleans had the highest homicide rate of any major American city in 2002 (53.3 per 100,000 people) and again in 2003 (275 homicides).

Violent crime is a serious problem for New Orleans residents, but far less of a problem for tourists. As in other U.S. cities of comparable size, the incidence of homicide and other violent crimes is highly concentrated in certain low-income neighborhoods, such as housing projects, that are sites of open-air drug trade. The homicide rate for the entire New Orleans metropolitan area was 24.4 per 100,000 in 2002.

After Hurricane Katrina, media attention focused on the reduced violent crime rate following the exodus of many New Orleanians. Conversely, a number of cities that took in Katrina evacuees had a significant increase in their murder rate. Houston, for example, had a 25% increase in murders from the previous year. Captain Dwayne Ready stated, "We also recognize that Katrina evacuees continue to have an impact on the murder rate." Police have not kept records of how evacuees have affected crime rates other than homicide. As more residents return to New Orleans, the trend is starting to reverse itself, although calculating the homicide rate remains difficult given that no authoritative source can cite a total population figure.

There were 22 homicides in July 2006, the same as the monthly average for the city from 2002 until Hurricane Katrina. There were 161 homicides in 2006.

On Thursday, January 11, 2007, several thousand New Orleans residents marched through city streets and gathered at City Hall for a rally demanding police and city leaders tackle the crime problem. Mayor Ray Nagin said he was "totally and solely focused" on addressing the problem. The city of New Orleans implemented checkpoints starting in early January 2007 from the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. in high-crime areas and, as of January 20, 2007, they had made over 60 arrests and issued more than 100 citations.

Although the city has lost more than 40% of its pre-Katrina population, it has recaptured an infamous unwanted title, as the nation's "murder capital", according to the FBImarker. By November 2007, local media reports claimed homicides had already eclipsed the previous year's numbers. The city recorded a total of 209 homicides in 2007.

New Orleans was once again the United Statesmarker murder capital, and 3rd leading city in the world, in 2008. Its murder rate is estimated as 67 per 100,000 by its police department and 95 per 100,000 by the FBI.

Education

Schools

New Orleans Public Schools (NOPS) is the name given to the city's public school system. Pre-Katrina, NOPS was one of the area's largest systems (along with the Jefferson Parish public school system). In the years leading up to Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans public school system was widely recognized as the lowest performing school district in Louisiana. According to researchers Carl L. Bankston and Stephen J. Caldas, only 12 of the 103 public schools within the city limits of New Orleans showed reasonably good performance at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Following Hurricane Katrina, the state of Louisiana took over most of the schools within the system (all schools that fell into a nominal "worst-performing" metric); many new charter schools have been started since the storm, educating 15,000. Presently, the majority of public school students in the NOPS system attend charter schools, the highest percentage in the nation. The last couple years have witnessed massive gains in student achievement, as outside operators like KIPP, the Algiers Charter School Network, and the Capital One - University of New Orleans Charter School Network have assumed control of dozens of schools.

In addition to a number of nationally-respected private secular schools, the Greater New Orleans area has approximately 200 parochial schools, the vast majority run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans. The longstanding prevalence of decent-quality, affordable parochial school education has historically been both a cause and a consequence of metropolitan New Orleans' comparatively mediocre public school systems. Because so many middle class students have been enrolled in Catholic schools, middle class support for public education has been relatively weak. At the same time, the historically middling-to-poor quality of the region's public school systems, especially NOPS, often prompts middle class families to educate their children in private or parochial schools.

Nonetheless, metropolitan New Orleans, and the NOPS system in particular, is currently engaged in the most promising and far-reaching public school reforms in the nation, reforms aimed at decentralizing power away from the pre-Katrina school board central bureaucracy to individual school principals and charter school boards, monitoring charter school performance by granting renewable, five-year operating contracts permitting the closure of those not succeeding, and vesting choice in parents of public schools students, allowing them to enroll their children in any school in the district.

Colleges and universities

A large number of institutions of higher education exist within the city, including Tulane Universitymarker and Loyola University New Orleans, the city's major private universities. These universities also administrate the city's three professional schools, Tulane University School of Medicine, Tulane University Law Schoolmarker and Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. The University of New Orleans is a large public research university in the city. Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans and Xavier University of Louisianamarker are among some of the leading historically black colleges and universities in the United States (Xavier being the only predominantly black Catholic university in the U.S.) Louisiana State University School of Medicine is the state's flagship public university medical school, which also conducts research. Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Notre Dame Seminary and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary are several smaller religiously affiliated universities. Other notable schools include Delgado Community College, the William Carey College School of Nursing, the Culinary Institute of New Orleans, Herzing College, and Commonwealth University.

Libraries

There are numerous academic and public libraries and archives in New Orleans, including Monroe Library at Loyola University, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane Universitymarker, the Law Library of Louisiana, and the Earl K. Long Library at the University of New Orleans.

The New Orleans Public Library includes 13 locations, most of which were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. However, only four libraries remained closed in 2007. The main library includes a Louisiana Division housing city archives and special collections.

Other research archives are located at the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Old U.S.marker Mintmarker.

An independently operated lending library called Iron Rail Book Collective specializes in radical and hard-to-find books. The library contains over 8,000 titles and is open to the public. It was the first library in the city to re-open after Hurricane Katrina.

Transportation

Streetcars



New Orleans has three active streetcar lines. The St. Charles line is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in America and each car is a historic landmark. The Riverfront line runs parallel to the river from Esplanade Street through the French Quarter to Canal Street to the Convention Center above Julia Street in the Arts District. The Canal Street line uses the Riverfront line tracks from the intersection of Canal Street and Poydras Street, down Canal Street, then branches off and ends at the cemeteries at City Park Avenue, with a spur running from the intersection of Canal and Carrollton Avenue to the entrance of City Park at Esplanade, near the entrance to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

The city's streetcars were also featured in the Tennessee Williams play, A Streetcar Named Desire. The streetcar line to Desire Street became a bus line in 1948. There are proposals to revive a Desire streetcar line, running along the neutral grounds of North Rampart and St. Claude, as far downriver as Poland Avenue, near the Industrial Canal.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed the power lines supplying the St. Charles Avenue line. The associated levee failures flooded the Mid-City facility storing the red streetcars which normally run on the Riverfront and Canal Street lines. Restoration of service has been gradual, with vintage St. Charles line cars running on the Riverfront and Canal lines until the more modern red cars are back in service; they are being individually restored at the RTA's facility in the Carrollton neighborhood. On December 23, 2007, streetcars were restored to running on the St. Charles line up to Carrolton Avenue. The much-anticipated re-opening of the second portion of the historic route, which continues until the intersection of Carrolton Avenue and Claiborne Avenue, was commemorated on June 28, 2008.

Buses

Public transportation in the city is operated by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority ("RTA"). There are many bus routes connecting the city and suburban areas. The RTA lost 200+ buses due to Hurricane Katrina, this would mean that there would be a 30-60 minute waiting period for the next bus to come to the bus stop, and the streetcar took until 2008 to return, so the RTA placed an order for 38 Orion VII Next Generation clean diesel buses, which arrived in July 2008. The RTA has these new buses running on biodiesel. The Jefferson Parish Department of Transit Administration operates Jefferson Transit, which provides service between the city and its suburbs.

Roads

New Orleans proper is served by Interstate 10, Interstate 610 and Interstate 510. I-10 travels east-west through the city as the Pontchartrain Expressway. In the far eastern part of the city, New Orleans East, it is known as the Eastern Expressway. I-610 provides a direct shortcut for traffic passing through New Orleans via I-10, allowing that traffic to bypass I-10's southward curve. In the future, New Orleans will have another interstate highway, Interstate 49, which will be extended from its current terminus in Lafayettemarker to the city.

In addition to the interstate highways, U.S. 90 travels through the city, while U.S. 61 terminates in the city's downtown center. In addition, U.S. 11 terminates in the eastern portion of the city.

New Orleans is home to many bridges, the tolled Crescent City Connectionmarker is perhaps the most notable. It serves as New Orleans' major bridge across the Mississippi River, providing a connection between the city's downtown on the eastbank and its westbank suburbs. Other bridges that cross the Mississippi River in the New Orleans area are the Huey P.marker Long Bridgemarker, over which U.S. 90 travels, and the Hale Boggs Memorial Bridgemarker, which carries Interstate 310.

The Twin Span Bridgemarker, a five-mile (8 km) causeway in eastern New Orleans, carries I-10 across Lake Pontchartrainmarker. Also in eastern New Orleans, Interstate 510/LA 47 travels across the Intracoastal Waterway/Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canalmarker via the Paris Road Bridgemarker, connecting New Orleans East and suburban Chalmettemarker.

The tolled Lake Pontchartrain Causewaymarker, consisting of two parallel bridges are, at long, the longest bridges in the world. Built in the 1950s (southbound span) and 1960s (northbound span), the bridges connect New Orleans with its suburbs on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain via Metairiemarker.

Airports

The metropolitan area is served by the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airportmarker, located in the suburb of Kennermarker. New Orleans also has several regional airports located throughout the metropolitan area. These include the Lakefront Airportmarker, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleansmarker (locally known as Callendar Field) in the suburb of Belle Chasse and "Southern Seaplane", also located in Belle Chasse. Southern Seaplane has a runway for wheeled planes and a water runway for seaplanes. New Orleans International suffered some damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina, but as of April 2007, it contained the most traffic and is the busiest airport in the state of Louisiana and the sixth busiest in the Southeast.

Rail

The city is served by rail via Amtrak. The New Orleans Union Passenger Terminalmarker is the central rail depot, and is served by three trains: the Crescent, operating between New Orleans and New York City; the City of New Orleans, operating between New Orleans and Chicago; and the Sunset Limited, operating through New Orleans between Orlando, Florida, and Los Angeles, California. From late August 2005 to the present, the Sunset Limited has remained officially a Florida-to-Los Angeles train, being considered temporarily truncated due to the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina. At first (until late October 2005) it was truncated to a San Antonio-to-Los Angeles service; since then (from late October 2005 on) it has been truncated to a New Orleans-to-Los Angeles service. As time has passed, particularly since the January 2006 completion of the rebuilding of damaged tracks east of New Orleans by their owner, CSX Transportation, the obstacles to restoration of the Sunset Limited's full route have been more managerial and political than physical.



With the strategic benefits of both a major international port and one of the few double-track Mississippi River crossings, the city is served by six of the seven Class I railroads in North America: Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Railway, Norfolk Southern Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway, CSX Transportation and Canadian National Railway. The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad provides interchange services between the railroads.

Recently, many have proposed extending New Orleans' public transit system by adding light rail routes from downtown, along Airline Highway through the airport to Baton Rougemarker and from downtown to Slidellmarker and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Proponents of this idea claim that these new routes would boost the region's economy, which has been badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and serve as an evacuation option for hospital patients out of the city.

Algiers Ferry

The Canal Street Ferry connects the heart of New Orleans with the neighborhood of Algiers Point on the other side of the Mississippi River. This service has been in continuous operation since 1827. Pedestrians ride for free, while automobiles are charged a fee. Service is from 6 am until midnight.

Sister cities

New Orleans has eleven sister cities:



Nicknames

The city's several nicknames are illustrative:
  • Crescent City alludes to the course of the Lower Mississippi River around and through the city.
  • The Big Easy was possibly a reference by musicians in the early 20th century to the relative ease of finding work there. It also may have originated in the Prohibition era, when the city was considered one big speak-easy due to the inability of the federal government to control alcohol sales in open violation of the 18th Amendment. The term was used by local columnist Betty Gillaud in the 1970s to contrast life in the city to that of New York Citymarker. The name also refers to New Orleans' status as a major city, at one time "one of the cheapest places in America to live" and came into popular usage throughout the United States in the wake of the 1987 film, The Big Easy, which was set in New Orleans.
  • The City that Care Forgot has been used since at least 1938, and refers to the outwardly easy-going, carefree nature of many of the residents.
  • America's Most Interesting City appears on welcome signs at the city limits.
  • Hollywood South is a reference to the large number of films, big and small, shot in the city since 2002.
  • The Northernmost Caribbean City is a reference from The Boston Globe, as well as other travel guides due in part to the similarities of culture with the Caribbean islands.
  • Paris of the South


See also



References

External links




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