History, New Orleans
On January 7, 1815, the eve of the Battle of New Orleans, citizens spent the night in the old Ursuline convent on Chartres Street praying to Our Lady of Prompt Succor for victory.
Fearing the arrival of British guns at their doors, they asked for a miracle and promised to dedicate the city to her if she helped them win an impossible battle— a ragtag American army against thousands of England’s finest.
New Orleans won decisively, losing only eight men. Grateful citizens donated their jewels and made two fabulous crowns for the lady and the infant in her arms.
Every year, on the anniversary of the battle, Our Lady of Prompt Succor and her infant are crowned during a solemn high mass, keeping the city’s promise always to remember her help. You can see the gilded statue at the national shrine in Ursuline Chapel on tree-lined State Street.
If you are visiting the city during Mardi Gras season, locals may refer to the location in which they are watching a parade from as the banquette side or the neutral ground side of the street.
After the United States bought Louisiana from the French in 1803. American colonials arrived en masse. Unwelcomed in the Creaole enclave of the French Quarter, the Americans settled across what is now Canal Street and known as the Central Business District (or CBD). The two groups skirmished often. The median along Canal Street became known as neutral territory. To this day all city medians are known as Neutral Grounds.
Banquette is a French term for a platform lining a trench or parapet wall on which soldiers may stand when firing. Somehow, this term came to describe a raised sidewalk. This is still used by the older generation of New Orleanians, not so much by the younger crowd.
Fort St. Charles
On October 25, 1769, under General O’Reilly, Spanish Governor of Louisiana, were executed French patriots and martyrs: de Lafreniere, Marquis, Noyan, Caresse, Milhet, Villere having died previously.
New Orleans Colonial Forts
French Forts (1708 - 1765)
Very little was built until 1729, when a palisade was built around the city, with small blockhouses at the corners, and a moat was begun but not completed. More elaborate defenses were constructed in 1754 and 1760. A moated embankment with nine bastions encircled the city, known as Condé's, Kerliree's (Kerlerec's), St. Louis, Choiseuel's, Orleans, Bayou Redan, Berry's, D'Abbadie's, and Charles' Bastions. This enclosed area is now known as the French Quarter.
Spanish Forts (1766 - 1803)
The Spanish soon abandoned the poor-condition French works. In 1792, the Spanish did some building in order to defend against the French including Fort St. Charles, previously French Charles' Bastion, located at Esplanade and North Peters Aves.
Fort St. Louis, previously French St. Louis Bastion, located at Canal and Decatur Streets.
American Forts (1803 - 1823)
Initially used all previous Spanish forts.
Fort St. John. Fort St. Ferdinand and Fort Burgundy were demolished in 1803.
Fort St. Louis was not used in the War of 1812, and was abandoned. The U.S. Customs House was built on the site.
Fort St. Charles (1803 - 1821) was the only original fort still in use during the War of 1812. It was demolished in 1821. The U.S. Mint was built here in 1835.
On our last day, we went out and got on the streetcar to ride down to the ferry docks.
I noticed for the first time that the light posts were all labeled with something on the four sides.
When I read them, they proved to say:
* French Domination 1719-1789
* Spanish Domination 1789-1803
* Confederate Domination 1861-1865
* American Domination 1803-1861 and 1865 to present
Lee's Circle, which is on St. Charles in between up and downtown, is one of many monuments located in the city. With the city's role in the Civil War being so prominent, many of the monuments are war memorials of the leaders during that time. Lee's Circle is the major one, and for those historically-challenged individuals out there, it was built for a Confederate Army leader, General Robert E Lee.
A Madame Lalaurie was run out of the city because she treated her slaves so cruelly.
Under New Orleans' Black Codes, slaves had Sundays off. Some had day jobs or sold products along the riverfront. Others gathered in Congo Square to sing and dance. Their half-day of freedom ended at 9 o'clock. The penalty for lingering was 20 lashes
Oysters Rockefeller were created in 1899 at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans when a shortage of snails from Europe prompted chef Jules Alciatore to turn instead to local oysters. This was a daring move, as the creatures were usually shunned at the time.
You can appreciate New Orleans' hidden beauty (sometimes very hidden!) better if you develop a sense of its unique architecture. The Preservation Resource Center has a nice introduction to various building types here at: http://www.prcno.org/arch.html
also nice intros to neighborhoods other than French Quarter worth seeing.