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.

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New Orleans in 1728, ten years after its foundation (basically the black rectangle in the first map)
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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 !

By Cyril GARNIER

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

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.

brewcitysazerac_fullsize_story1

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:
-Absinthe
-1 Sugar cube (Demerara or white)
-3 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
-2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
-2 oz Rye Whiskey
-Slice of lemon peel
Method:
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
neoclassical

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

Capturing New Orleans with a Paintbrush: Diane Millsap

This post today is dedicated to an artist named Diane Millsap. What’s special about Millsap, is that she focuses almost all her artwork and photography around the city of New Orleans, and I think you’ll agree, her paintings are truly beautiful and a credit to the city!

The Frenchmen Hotel
The Frenchmen Hotel

I found myself captivated by the deep reds and oranges she uses to illuminate various buildings and landscapes from around the city, it gave me a real feel for what New Orleans must feel like as the sun sets.

Diane has been painting New Orleans for over a decade, she uses oil paints for her artwork but has also started to print some of her pieces. On her website, Diane says “I have become enchanted with New Orleans because it offers and endless flow of images to paint.  This city has a depth of soul and a love of life that reaches out to everyone.”

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Signs of Bourbon Street

I think it’s safe to say she captures the soul of the city, the colours are so vibrant and the places so realistic, it’s enough to make anyone want to visit! One of my favourite paintings of hers is of the Cafe du Monde, seen below. The bustle of the customers combined with the summery night’s sky illustrates brilliantly the iconic cafe, which is open 24/7.

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Midnight at the Cafe du Monde

For those who are interested, more of Millsap’s work can be viewed here, or if you are interested in buying a poster of her work – here.

By Natalie Tobin

La Louisiane Française

So you may have been wondering why so many French influences can be found in Louisiana, the simple answer is because from the 17th-18th century Louisiana was under the control of the French. I personally find the melange of cultures in Louisiana particularly interesting, so I thought for this post I would look a little further into the history of this wonderfully diverse state!

The influence of French colonisation can still be seen today in Louisiana

During the time that Louis XIV reigned France, the French started to explore the territory known as Louisiana. King Louis sent an explorer named René-Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle to travel the Mississippi River in order to establish trades routes and to explore new areas. In April 1682 La Salle discovered the Mississippi basin, which he named Louisiana, in honour of King Louis. The French claimed the whole of the Mississippi Valley and in 1699 Louisiana became a royal colony.

Explorer René-Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle
Explorer René-Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle

The French also founded the city of New Orleans as the capital of Louisiana in 1718. The city was chosen to be the capital for a number of reasons, for example it was on a fairly raised area of ground, making it less susceptible for flooding, but also because it was at the mouth of the Mississippi River which made it ideal for farmers transporting their goods, and it has great access to the Gulf of Mexico!

A map of 18th century New Orleans
A map of 18th century New Orleans

Although before the French, it was the Spanish who occupied Louisiana, it is still said that Louisiana is the state with the most French influence in America. However the French did not hang on to Louisiana forever; in 1803 the Louisiana Purchase was made, whereby the United States purchased approximately 828,000,000 square miles of territory from France, which included our beloved New Orleans!

French influence remains: Cafe du Monde
French influence remains: Cafe du Monde

Regardless of the sale of their land, the French legacy in Louisiana remains, particularly in New Orleans. The city has a neighbourhood known as the French Quarter, the oldest neighbourhood in the city and a historic landmark, full of many historical buildings reminiscent of the days of French colonisation. One historical building that particularly captured my interest (possibly due to my love of Beignets) was the Cafe du Monde. Opened in 1862, it is a quintessential piece of France in the heart of New Orleans, and it’s just as popular now as it was back then!

One of the best things the French brought to New Orleans...
One of the best things the French brought to New Orleans…

By Natalie Tobin