new orleans

New Orleans

Posted on January 18, 2015

From its founding in 1718 through its development over the centuries and the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is an American city with a rich history.

The French lay claim to the land at the mouth of the Mississippi River and the upriver Louisiana territory.

Mardi Gras Day, 1699
French Canadian Pierre D’Iberville establishes a camp called Point du Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras Point) 60 miles below the present-day New Orleans.

The city of New Orleans is founded by the French as La Nouvelle-Orléans. It is named for Philip II, Duke of Orléans, the king of France at the time.

New Orleans becomes the capital of French Louisiana, replacing Biloxi.

Jews are officially forbidden to enter New Orleans. Despite this, many Jews are able to enter by not admitting to being Jewish.

France cedes New Orleans to Spain under the Treaty of Fontainebleau.

The Great Fire destroys many of the French-built structures in the original French Quarter of the city.

A second fire destroys much of the remaining French architecture. The Spanish rebuild using Spanish colonial architecture.

The United States is granted “Right of Deposit” in New Orleans, allowing them to use the city’s port facilities.

Louisiana reverts back to French control after Napoleon regains the territory under a treaty agreement with Spain.

Napoleon sells the Louisiana territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase.

The War of 1812 brings British forces who try to conquer New Orleans.

Jan. 8, 1815
The British are defeated by Andrew Jackson and his army in the Battle of New Orleans.

The population of New Orleans doubles.

The population is approximately 102,000, making it the fourth largest city in the United States at the time.

Loses its status as the capital of Louisiana to

During the Great Scourge of 1853, almost 10,000 New Orleans citizens die from yellow fever.

Once again becomes the capital of Louisiana.

The official Mardi Gras colors – purple, green, and gold – are chosen by the King of Carnival, Rex. Purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

Loses its status as the capital of Louisiana to

New Orleans hosts the 1884 World’s Fair, The World Cotton Centennial.

A. Baldwin Wood, an engineer and investory, oversees his plan to drain the city and install large pumps to drain rainwater from the canals into Lake Pontchartrain. The drainage allows the city to expand.

The old cast-iron balconies are removed from Canal Street in an attempt to modernize the city.

The Canal Streetcar Line is replaced with buses.

New Orleans hosts its second World’s Fair, the Louisiana World Exposition.

Pope John Paul II addresses 80,000 children at the Superdome.

Streetcars are restored to a section of Canal Street.

Dec. 14, 1996
The Bright Field freightliner/bulk cargo vessel crashes into the Riverwalk mall and hotel complex on Poydras Street Wharf, injuring 116 people, and destroying 15 shops and 456 hotel rooms.

Jan. 6, 1997
The freightliner is finally removed from the crash site.

Sept. 1998
The threat of Hurricane Georges causes the evacuation of about 500,000 Louisiana residents and the mayor of New Orleans declares a state of emergency. 160,000 residents lose power and many homes outside of the levee system were flooded.

April 2004
Construction to restore the entire Canal Street streetcar line is completed.

Aug. 24, 2005
A tropical storm that will soon become Hurricane Katrina is first spotted in the Carribean.

Aug. 26, 2005
The National Weather Service announces that Hurricane Katrina has changed course and could hit New Orleans.

Aug. 27, 2005
Mayor Ray Nagin calls for a voluntary evacuation of New Orleans. All outbound arteries of the city are clogged for 48 hours.

Aug. 28, 2005
Hurricane Katrina reaches a Category 5 intensity with 175 mph winds. 26,000 people evacuate to the New Orleans Superdome. The director of the National Hurricane Center alerts the Times-Picayune of a “worse-case scenario.”

Aug. 29, 2005 – 6:00 a.m.
Hurricane Katrina makes landfall on the Gulf Coast, with the eye hitting just east of New Orleans. At 7am, water is reported coming

Aug. 29, 2005 – 7:00 a.m.
Water begins flooding over the levee in the 9th Ward.

Aug. 29, 2005 – 8:45 a.m.
Up to eight foot high flood waters are reported in the 9th Ward.

Aug. 29, 2005 – 9:00 a.m.
A hole is ripped in the roof of the Superdome. The eye of the storm moves to the east of New Orleans, blowing out windows in high rises.

Aug. 29, 2005 – 11:00 a.m.
There is a breach in the Industrial Canal levee, causing Lake Pontchartrain to flood into Eastern New Orleans, the Lower 9th Ward, and St. Bernard Parish.

Aug. 29, 2005 – 2:00 p.m.
A breach in the 17th Street Canal causes flooding of Gentilly, Broodmoor, Mid-City, and Lakeview. Meanwhile, waters have risen as high as 12 feet in some areas of the 9th Ward.

Aug. 30, 2005
Waters continue to rise as Martial Law is declared in Jefferson, Orleans, and Plaquemines Parishes. Looting and chaos occurs as the whole world watches the disaster unfold on tv.

National Geographic’s Day by Day video report on Hurricane Katrina

Aug. 31, 2005
Some areas of the city are under 20 feet of water as the “bowl” of New Orleans is now even with Lake Ponchartrain. Thousands of people are stranded in the Superdome and reports of chaos and violence are reported in the media. People throughout the city are stranded on their roofs or trapped in their homes with no food, water, or power.

Sept. 1, 2005
With many people, including Mayor Ray Nagin, asking why more help has not come from the federal government, President George W. Bush appears on Good Morning America and says: “I fully understand people wanting things to have happened yesterday. I understand the anxiety of people on the ground … So there is frustration. But I want people to know there’s a lot of help coming.” He asks for a $10.5 billion storm relief package.

Sept. 3, 2005
FEMA says they are overwhelmed by the emergency. Chaos and violence still run rampant in the city. The last of the people stuck in the Superdome and Convention Center are evacuated.

Sept. 5, 2005
16,000 National Guard troops work on search and rescue. It is feared that as many as 10,000 may have lost their lives, though nobody knows the actual number yet.

Sept. 8, 2005
A city-wide order by New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass to confiscate all civilian firearms is issued to local police, National Guard soldiers, and Deputy U.S. Marshals. Compass states: “No one will be able to be armed. Guns will be taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns.” Gun confiscations are subsequently carried out without warrant and with excessive force in many cases. Given that there is widespread crime and looting occurring in the city, many people are outraged that law enforcement is taking away the peoples’ ability to defend themselves and their homes.

Sept. 23, 2005
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana issues a restraining order barring further firearms confiscations.

Sept. 24, 2005
Hurricane Rita makes landfall in Texas. The eastern bands of the storm cause flooding in already-devastated New Orleans.

Oct. 5, 2005
Mayor Ray Nagin holds a press conference to announce that, due to the financial crisis caused by Katrina, 3,000 city employees will lose their jobs.

Late 2005
Ellen Degeneres, a New Orleans native, makes it one of her missions to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief. The Ellen Degeneres Show raises almost 10 million dollars for The Ellen Degeneres Show Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund in the months following the disaster.

January 2006
Only about 200,000 people are living in New Orleans, not even half of the pre-Katrina population.

Jan. 16, 2006
Mayor Ray Nagin gives a speech on Martin Luther King, Jr Day about the aftermath of Katrina and says, “Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it’s destroyed and put stress on this country. Surely he doesn’t approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We’re not taking care of ourselves.”

July 1, 2006
The population is about 219,563. It is harder or more expensive in post-Katrina New Orleans to get homeowners’ insurance because of the high risk of hurricanes in the area.

Dec. 2006
Brad Pitt and William McDonough found The Make it Right Foundation in order to rebuild 150 of the Lower 9th Ward in an environmentally friendly, safe, and affordable manner. The homes at first will only be available to residents from the Lower 9th ward who have been displaced by the flood.

Jan. 7, 2008
New Orleans hosts the 2008 BCS National Championship Game at the Superdome.

Feb. 17, 2008
New Orleans hosts the 2008 NBA All-Star Game at the New Orleans Arena.

Oct. 23, 2011
The Superdome is renamed the Mercedes-Benz Superdome

March 10, 2012
“A Night to Make It Right” is hosted at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, hosted by Brad Pitt and Ellen Degeneres with performances by Kanye West, Sheryl Crow, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, Seal, Dr. John, and others. $5 million was raised for the Make It Right Foundation at the event.

Nov. 9, 2012
The Make It Right Foundation announces that their homes will be for sale to first responders and teachers from outside of the Lower 9th Ward.

Feb. 3, 2013
New Orleans hosts Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. During the game, a power failure occurs halting the game for 34 minutes.

A partial power failure halted game play for about 34 minutes in the third quarter between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. It caused CBS, who was broadcasting the game, to lose some of its cameras as well as voiceovers by the commentators. At no point did the game go off the air, though the game had no audio for about two minutes. While the lights were coming back on, CBS reporters deployed around the stadium reported on the outage as a breaking news situation until power was restored enough for play to continue.

April 2013
The Make It Right Foundation has 90 homes completed and is working on the 60 remaining homes.

Feb. 5, 2014
The New Orleans Arena is renamed the Smoothie King Center.

The number of murders in the city fell to 150 for 2014, the lowest in four decades.


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