After the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the southeastern port city of New Orleans, Louisiana, is dusted off and ready for action with a new mission statement: "Soul is Waterproof." Once plantation land, humid subtropical New Orleans is now recognized as the birthplace of jazz, the "Hollywood of the South," and the home of Mardi Gras. It's also known for its distinct Cajun-inspired cuisine.
The city's population, recorded at over 480,000 in the 2000 census, was scattered by Hurricane Katrina, and many former residents have still not returned. New Orleans is currently home to roughly 272,000 people. They live in thirteen districts and 72 neighborhoods such as:
French Quarter (Vieux Carre): Situated slightly higher than the rest of New Orleans, the French Quarter is a National Historic Landmark known for its eclectic mix of architecture combining Spanish, Creole, American, and French styles. Many buildings are coupled with private courtyards and cast-iron balconies.
The Garden District: Traditional with plenty of green spaces, many homes along the Garden District are still known by the names of the families who inhabited the Greek Revival and Italianate homes from over a century ago. A large variety of shops, restaurants, and stores are located in this National Historic Landmark district.
Uptown: Just up from the Garden District and reaching to Broadway, Uptown is more comparable to a small town than a bustling city. Most homes date back to the 19th century.
Carrolton: Known for containing both Loyola and Tulane universities, this former rural resort community has several well-known shopping districts; the most notable of these, Oak Street, still possesses 1950s style.
Arts District (Warehouse District): Once the industrial side of New Orleans, this "Soho of the South" has slowly morphed into the city's cultural center, taking advantage of roomy warehouse space to create numerous galleries and studios, including the 10,000-square-foot Contemporary Arts Center.
Faubourg Marigny and Bywater: This artsy area, adjacent to French Quarter, is home to small studios and artists. The favored local hangout, Bourbon Street, bustles with vibrant jazz clubs, shops, and restaurants.
Central Business District (Downtown): After the work day, the Central Business District lures in the crowds thanks to an abundance of small theaters and cabarets, as well as The Orpheum, home of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, on Lafayette Square.
Algiers: A musical hotspot in the early 1900s, "The Point" is a ferry ride away from Downtown New Orleans. Mardi Gras World, the float-making museum, is also located in this tidy Victorian neighborhood.
Treme: French for "suburb," Treme is the oldest black neighborhood in the United States, with the majority of land originally purchased by freed slaves, and many museums and memorials dedicated to those achievements. It is also the site of the Louisiana Film and Television Studio Complex.
Mid-City and Esplanade Ridge: The New Orleans Museum of Art, Besthoff Sculpture Garden, and the Celebration in the Oaks, even the "Cities of the Dead" with acres of burial vaults, are easily accessible by the fully restored streetcar service. The neighborhood was flooded during the storm, and only about half its population has returned.
Lakeview: Close to Lake Pontchartrain, Lakeview was almost wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. Many homes and businesses have been fully restored and are back in business.
Gentilly, New Orleans East, and the Ninth Ward: The biggest of New Orleans' wards, it is the locale of the Musicians' Village, post-Hurricane Katrina housing for displaced musicians. It is also the location of such important sites as Dillard University, the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, and NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility.
Tourism composes the largest part of New Orleans' economy; the city has consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most visited cities in the nation. The Port of New Orleans is the fifth-largest port in the United States by volume. Other major industries include crude oil/gass, shipbuilding, and aerospace. Universities, medical centers, military operations, food processing, manufacturing and a thriving small business sector contribute to the city's economy.
New Orleans supports these professional teams:
The Louisiana Superdome, the world's largest steel-constructed room without view-obstructing posts, plays host to the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Bowl, and other large events. New Orleans also is home to the Fair Grounds Race Course, a historic thoroughbred track.
There are many public and private colleges and universities in New Orleans, including:
New Orleans holds a seemingly endless amount of culture, with jazz bars, clubs, and more scattered all over the city, but New Orleans also presents an exciting array of festivals, celebrating music, theater, culture, art, food, and more. A few of the most popular annual events include:
Carnival (Mardi Gras): Starting January 6, this two-week event is known for daily parades, creative floats and debauched participants throwing beaded necklaces.
The Jazz and Heritage Festival: Held every spring, and spanning every musical genre, Jazz Fest draws in top musical acts, crafts, parades, and lots of food in Esplanade Ridge.
French Quarter Festival: Branded as the "world's largest jazz brunch," this festival offers restaurant fare, free garden tours, and various musical performances each spring.
Essence Music Festival: A summertime celebration of African-American tradition, culture, and fellowship.
Tennessee Williams Literary Festival: Featuring national and regional writers, scholars, and performing artists with competitions, lectures, literary walking tours, discussions, and more in March.
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