The Creole State

Citizens of Louisiana ratified a new state constitution on December 8, 1879. Simultaneously, the state capital was moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Responding to the demands of diversity as well as to the events of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Louisianians revised and passed new constitutions ten times from 1812-1921. In the 1940s, Louisiana state politics inspired Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize winning novel All the King's Men. 

Located at the mouth of the Mississippi-Missouri river system, Louisiana was occupied by Native Americans for 16,000 years prior to European settlement. Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to discover Louisiana, but the French were the first to colonize it. In 1682, French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle claimed this strategically vital region for France. French Canadians from the colony of Acadia sought refuge in Louisiana during the 1750s and 1760s after being ousted by the British. Their descendants, the "Cajuns," culturally dominate much of southern Louisiana. 

Nine years after the October 20, 1803 ratification of the Louisiana Purchase, Louisiana became the eighteenth state in the Union. Just three years later, Major General Andrew Jackson successfully defended Louisiana's port-city in the Battle of New Orleans. Over the next thirty years, the combination of the expansion of steamboat transport and the rise of "King Cotton" made the port of New Orleans the fourth busiest in the world. 

Louisiana's fertile subtropical soils conceal oil fields below. They also support production of cotton, sugar cane, and rice. Frequent flooding prompted innovative planning including a system of canals and the above-ground cemeteries of New Orleans. It also inspired humorist William Hall. He used Louisiana's climate as a point of departure in his 1904 monologue Diversified Drollery: 

Appreciating the fact that [my mother-in-law's] life depended on being in a dry climate, I rented a house in the flood section of Louisiana, in a town called Swamp Haven. Swamp Haven is on the banks of the Mississippi river, when it's not under it . . . The Landlord was actually imbued with the idea that Swamp Haven was the only town on the map . . . I said [to him], "Don't you think it would have a tendency to check these floods if the citizens would get together to dam the water?" He said "No, I think prayers would do more good than profanity." 

William D. Hall,
Diversified Drollery, p. 2-3,

The rich multicultural heritage of Louisiana is very evident in New Orleans. With French, Spanish, and African roots, this Creole city on the Mississippi proved fertile ground for American creativity. The birthplace of jazz, New Orleans produced famed musical artists Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Mahalia Jackson. Writer Truman Capote, poet/novelist Arna Bontemps, and playwright/screenwriter Lillian Hellman also were born in New Orleans. The city provides the setting for Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire. 

Traditional Mardi Gras festivities express the cultural diversity of New Orleans as well as the fun-loving spirit of the "city that care forgot."

Text Source: Library of Congress

New Orleans-Music


New Orleans Food


A Depression Era Guide To New Orleans
At the arrival of dawn, disciples of the night turn to the French Market, where society matrons and truck-drivers sit on stools and drink coffee in friendly proximity. Another well-known place for ending the evening is the all-night poor boy stand of the Martin Brothers (2004 St. Claude Ave.), where appetites otherwise insatiable can be appeased for ten cents. Beyond the city limits in the adjacent parishes of Jefferson and St. Bernard are several large and elaborately appointed gambling-houses: the Old Southport and the Original Southport in Jefferson Parish (taxi 40 cents within a half block of either place), and the Jai Alai, Arabi Club, and Riverview in St. Bernard Parish (taxi 75 cents). All may be reached by street-car. Although gambling is, strictly speaking, illegal, these places are usually open for business from dusk to dawn.

Mississippi River

French Quarter





Red Beans & Rice


Garden District