300 Years of New Orleans

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well in this case, seven pictures will be worth nearly three centuries of history. Let us end this blog with a quick rundown of New Orleans’ expansion.

New Orleans in 1728, ten years after its foundation (basically the black rectangle in the first map)
New Orleans in 1770
New Orleans in 1841, following the Louisina purchase and the massive immigration of African-Americans
New Orleans in 1841, following the Louisina purchase and the massive immigration of African-Americans 
New Orleans in 1917
New Orleans in 1917, starting to take the shape we are now familiar with
New Orleans in 1970
New Orleans in 1970, spreading in all directions
Can't unfortunately skip post-Katrina New Orleans (2005)
Can’t unfortunately skip post-Katrina New Orleans
And lastly, current New Orleans divided by quarters
And lastly, current New Orleans divided by quarters

Annnd that’s all, folks ! Hope you enjoyed this little trip. See you around !



The 19th century, a troublesome era for Louisiana

I know, we almost all hate History, but let’s make it concise and appealing to everyone with nice pictures! Everyone enjoys a good picture.

In 1803 the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States
In 1803 the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States

Here, you can see that Louisiana then was considerably bigger than what it is now. It represent what are now: Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa; most of Colorado, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, as well as significant parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, Texas and Louisiana.

The United States were originally prospecting to buy New Orleans territory and the surroundings but President Jefferson was offered the whole French territory by Napoleon Bonaparte for a total of 15 million dollars. It doubled the size of the country.

Can you imagine, almost 900,000 sq miles for the price of Tom Cruise’s house in Hollywood? The cost of life is different from then, of course.

In 1840 the city was rated the fourth port in the world
In 1840 the city was rated the fourth port in the world

After a short war against the British in 1812, Louisiana experienced its golden age. New Orleans became a great cotton port thanks to its famous steamboats. In 1840 the city was rated the fourth port in the world.

The different ethnicities in New Orleans throughout the years

In 1803 New Orleans’ population was around 8,000, with a majority of whites. In 1810 the number of blacks, or ‘free people of color’ as they were referred to, considerably increased, due to the arrival of numerous Haitian refugees in 1809. By 1850, New Orleans population reached 116,000 and was mainly composed of immigrants.

New Orleans was the second city in the U.S. to experience such a huge immigration after New York City, there were mainly German or Irish but there were also Italian, Greek, Filipino, and Croatian.

As a result, diseases like the yellow fever killed thousands of people and the relations between Americans and the immigrants were really bad, so bad that they lived almost secluded in two distinct areas of the city and had separate municipal governments.

In 1861 Louisiana seceded from the Union and joined the Confederate States of America. But it was occupied by the army of the Union in 1862 until 1877 well after the state got back in the Union (1868).

From 1862 to 1898 Louisiana battled to have a new constitution. It was a tragic era of history, when former members of the confederates relied on groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the White League to pressure people and kill African Americans -who accessed the right to vote in 1870 – to defeat the Republicans.

Finally, in 1898 a new constitution was adopted, but it legalized discrimination and segregation.

By Clara Laeng

The Native Louisiana

Today we’ll revisit Louisiana’s history, this time from the point of view of the American natives known as the Houmas.


Closely related to the Chotcaw tribe, the Houmas are first mentionned in the journals of late 17th century French explorers such as Cavelier de la Salle, who had been mentioned earlier. One noteworthy story prior to their meeting with their new visitors has the Houmas settling a conflict against a rival tribe by marking their hunting grounds with a tall and red pole that will eventually become the city of Baton Rouge’s namesake.

From a tall red pole to a tall shining hotel

During the Seven Years’ War, the Houmas were amongst the native American tribes that threw in their lot with the French side of the conflict, and following its defeat they emigrated to the southern parts of Louisiana, taking eventually refuge in the bayous, leaving their old hunting grounds to the colonists. A fair share of Louisiana’s cities, including the appropriately named Houma city, have kept some faint traces of the land’s former inhabitants.

One of Houma city’s main attractions

From there on, the fate of the tribe remains sketchy even today. The Houmas splintered into multiple, isolated settlements during their exodus and through the nineteenth century. Combined by the fact that their original language had been progressively replaced by their own interpretation of creole French, the discrimination and diseases they faced like many of their fellow American natives, the possibility that the Houmas of old had died out during these troubled times has yet to be proven untrue.

Two Houma children ready to go to school : something that did not become a reality until the forties

Regardless of what truly happened, nowadays the United Houma Nation aims to preserve their legacy by revitalizing their native language and, for the last forty years, by petitioning the Bureau of Indian Affairs to grant them federal recognition as a tribe, but so far the Bureau remains uncertain if the current Houmas are truly descended from the historical tribe and has turned their demands down.


Even the near future for the Houmas is not looking very bright :global warming, industrialization and reckless construction of artificial canals have severely flooded the bayous and wetlands that are vital to the tribe’s lifestyle. Scientists estimate that if nothing is done, in less than twenty years the Houmas will have no choice but to leave their lands behind once again.

A hint of things to come. And yes, Houma territory is very much in the soon to be submerged part, southwest of New Orleans

In spite of this bleak-looking future, the Houmas soldier on and continue to try to ingrate with modern society without losing their roots and traditions. You can find and follow some their activities in the United Houma Nation site.


Born in New Orleans: America’s First Cocktail

Seeing as today is Friday, I thought I would get everyone in the mood for the weekend by posting about a very special drink, but more specifically, one from NewOrleans!

Sazerac logo for Cocktail pgI was pleasantly surprised to find out that America’s first cocktail, the Sazerac, was created in New Orleans. This boozy concoction was first made in 1838 in the French Quarter by a man named Antoine Peychaud, who named the drink after his favourite French brandy – Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. The drink was slightly altered in 1873 when bartender Leon Lamothe (now known as the Father of the Sazerac) added absinthe and replaced cognac with American Rye whiskey, however in 1912 absinthe was banned, so Peychaud replaced it with his special bitters.


In 1893 the Grunewald Hotel opened and gained rights to the Sazerac, and the popularity of the cocktail has remained ever since. Today, the Sazerac can be found in numerous restaurants and bars in New Orleans, but one of the best places to enjoy the cocktail is at the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel (formerly the Grunewald).

The Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans
The Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans

If this post has made you thirsty and you’d like to create your own, follow this recipe for the perfect Sazerac (tried and tested with success!)…

You will need:
-1 Sugar cube (Demerara or white)
-3 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
-2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
-2 oz Rye Whiskey
-Slice of lemon peel
1) Rinse a chilled rocks glass with absinthe, discarding any excess, and set aside.
2) In a mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube and both bitters.
3) Add the rye, fill with ice and stir.
4) Strain into the prepared glass.
5) Twist a slice of lemon peel over the surface to extract the oils and then discard.
6) …ENJOY!

By Natalie Tobin

The Fascinating Architecture of New Orleans

As a city with many cultural identities, it is no surprise that the architecture in New Orleans reflects this. Buildings and structures in New Orleans take a variety of different styles, from Creole to Californian to Edwardian and Greek.

In this post I aim to give a run through of the different architectural styles, with a little explanation of why and when this style became present in this architecturally diverse city!

1) Creole Cottage
creole cottage

Creole cottages can be found in the majority of neighbourhoods in New Orleans, but predominantly in the French Quarter. They were first constructed by French colonists towards the end of the 18th century, and their style is thought to be reminiscent of other places that were in France’s colonial empire, such as the Caribbean.
Their style is fairly distinctive: steep, gabled roofs with dormer windows that allow the room to be lit, normally running parallel to the street. They are usually 1 to 4 rooms wide, with French doors, high ceilings and tall windows, with wooden floors and mantles. The style is often perceived as being quaint and romantic, somewhat like an enchanting gingerbread house. The Creole cottage was not only found in New Orleans but much of the Gulf Coast during the 19th century.

2) Shotgun House
shotgun house

Shotgun style houses were first built in New Orleans around 1830. They strongly resemble Caribbean houses from the 18th century, and are an efficient and fairly cheap type of building. The style was a popular dwelling for both working and middle class people for at least a century, and it is for this reason that this style of building can be seen so prevalently in New Orleans today. The most common form of the Shotgun house is 1 room wide and 3 to 5 rooms deep, with each room opening onto the next.The outside of the house usually has shutters and often an overhanging porch. There are other types of Shotgun houses such as “Shotgun doubles”, “Sidehall Shotguns” and “Camelback Shotguns” more of which can be read about here.

3) California Style Bungalow House

cali bungalow

This style of house was built in the early to mid-20th century in neighbourhoods such as Gentilly, Mid-City and Broadmoor. They are easily identified by their low-slung structure and are often one and a half stories high. They are typically clad in wood, have sloping roofs, with a brick or stone porch and flared columns and a gable over the main portion of the house.

4) Double Gallery House
double gallery
Double Gallery style houses can often be found in Lower Garden District, Garden District, Uptown or Esplanade Ridge. They were built in New Orleans in 1820-1850 and are fairly distinctive due to their grecian-style columns. The double gallery house is very similar to the townhouse, however it is suited less to urban areas and more residential neighbourhoods. It’s two stories tall with three openings across the front, inside is a side hall and an interior stair to the second floor.

5) Colonial/Neoclassical Revival & Edwardian

This style of building developed in New Orleans from 1870’s-1930’s. The architecture includes stylistic motifs that include classical pilasters, six over six double hung windows, egg and dart and dentil mouldings, porches supported by classical columns and doors flanked by sidelights and topped with fanlights. Neoclassical Revival buildings tend to be more ornate than Colonial Revival, with fluted columns topped by complex capitals, friezes and entablatures embellished with garlanded or patterned carvings and massive porticos. Edwardian style homes tend to be simple rectangles in plan, 1‐ to 2‐stories in height, with a front or cross gabled roof and subdued decorative elements. Colonial and Neoclassical Revival stylistic motifs can frequently be found mixed with earlier Victorian styles and sometimes with later styles, like Arts and Crafts, and on shotgun type residences.

This is just a brief insight into some of New Orleans architecture… there is definitely more to talk about! If you are interested in getting a glimpse of the best of New Orleans architecture yourself, I would recommend taking a trip to the French Quarter (for colonial style), Lafayette Square (for Art Deco) and St Charles Avenue for the most impressive southern mansions!

By Natalie Tobin