1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS, a city of Louisiana, U.S.A., situated almost wholly on the left bank of the Mississippi, 107 m. from its mouth, in that portion of the state which constitutes the river's larger delta, and lying between Lake Pontchartrain (to the north and west) and Lake Borgne (to the east and south); its latitude is about 30°, nearly the same as that of Cairo, Egypt. Pop. (1910) 339,075. The city lay originally at the angle of a deep three-sided bend in the river. Into this hollow it gradually spread, the curving river front, some 9 m. long, serving as its harbour; and hence its old appellation, the Crescent City. Long ago, however, the city filled the pocket of the bend, and spreading farther along the river, now has the form of an “S.” Directly north, and still about 3 m. distant from the parts of the city proper that have advanced farthest toward it, lies Lake Pontchartrain (about 40 m. long and 20 m. wide). Lake and river are parallel to one another for many miles; the city lies on the narrow alluvial strip between. The total area included within the municipal limits is 196.25 sq. m., but the city proper covers about 40 sq. m. The larger limits are coextensive with those of the parish of Orleans, and include the district of Algiers, on the right bank of the Mississippi.
The river at New Orleans varies from 1500 to 3000 ft. in width, and its broad channel often stretches almost from shore to shore, with a depth varying frequently at short intervals from 40 ft. to more than 200 ft. Around the margins a line of wharves and shipping extends for miles on each shore. Including the suburbs of Westwego, Gretna, &c., on the right bank of the stream, there is a river frontage of more than 20 m. Gretna, the seat of Jefferson parish, McDonoghville, in Jefferson parish, and Algiers, or West New Orleans, a part of the city, are industrial suburbs on the west bank of the Mississippi, connected with the east bank by a steam ferry and with one another by electric railway. At Algiers are railway terminals and repair shops of the Southern Pacific and the Texas & Pacific; and the United States Naval Station here, which was built in 1894 (though land was bought for it in 1849), and has a large steel floating dry dock, is the only fresh-water station south of Portsmouth, Virginia, and is equipped to make all repairs.
The city site is almost perfectly level; there is an exceedingly slight slope from the river toward the tidal morasses that border Lake Pontchartrain. The elevation of the city plain is only 10 ft. above the sea, and its lower parts are as much as 10-12 ft. below the Mississippi at high flood water. About 6 m. of heavy “levees” or dykes—in some parts rising clear above the city plain, but backed by filled-in areas graded down from the shores where the traffic of the water-front is concentrated—protect it from the waters. The speed of the current reaches, in times of high water, a rate of 5 m. an hour. Along the immediate front of the principal commercial quarter, this current, losing some of its force by change of direction, deposits its alluvium in such quantities as to produce a constant encroachment of the shore upon the harbour. At its widest part this new land or batture, with wharves, streets and warehouses following eagerly after it, has advanced some 1500 ft. beyond the water-line of the middle of the 18th century.
The climate is not marked by extremes of absolute heat or cold. Only once in thirty-seven years (1871-1907) did the thermometer register as high as 102° F., and on only a few days did it register above 96°; in February 1899 the temperature was 7°, but it rarely falls below 22°. The average annual rainfall is about 58 in.
Canal Street, the centre of retail trade and street life, bounds on the south-west near the river the Vieux Carré—the old rectangle within the walls of the original city, bounded by the river, Canal, Rampart and Esplanade streets—and separates the picturesque, peaceful French (or Latin) Quarter of the north-east from the bustling business and dignified residence districts of the American Quarter, or New City, on the south-west. In the latter St Charles Avenue and Prytania Street have the finest residences, and in the former Esplanade Avenue. Just below Canal Street, in the oldest part of the American Quarter, are many of the most important or imposing buildings of the city, and some of the places most intimately associated with its history. Here are the St Charles Hotel (1894), the third of that name on the present site, all famous hostelries, and the first (1838-1851) one of the earliest of the great hotels of the country; and Lafayette Square, surrounded by the City Hall (built in 1850 in the style of an Ionic temple), the new Post Office, two handsome churches, St Patrick's and the First Presbyterian, Odd Fellows' Hall and other buildings. In the square are statues of Henry Clay (by Joel T. Hart) and Franklin (by Hiram Powers), and a monument to John McDonogh (1898); and in the vicinity are the Howard Memorial Library (1887, a memorial to Charles T. Howard), which was the last work of H. H. Richardson, a native of Louisiana, and the Confederate Memorial Hall (presented to the city by F. T. Howard) with Confederate relics. Two blocks away in Marguerite Place is a statue erected (1884) by the women of the city to Margaret Haughery (d. 1882), the “Orphan's Friend,” a noble woman of humble birth and circumstances, who devoted a toilful but successful life to charities. In Lee Circle is a monument to Robert E. Lee, and facing it is the New Orleans Public Library building (1908). Just off Canal Street, at Carondelet and Gravier Street, is the Cotton Exchange (1882-1883), and in Magazine Street the Produce Exchange. The large office buildings are on Canal, Carondelet, Common and Gravier streets; among them may be mentioned the Maison Blanche, the Hennen Building, the Tulane Newcomb Building and the Canal Louisiana Bank and Trust Company Building. On Camp Street, between Gravier and Poydras, are the office buildings of the Picayune and the Times-Democrat; on Carondelet and Gravier are the wholesale cotton houses; on Poydras and Tchoupitoulas are the wholesale grocery houses; and on North Peters and Custom House streets the sugar and rice industries are concentrated. Little of history or tradition is associated with the American Quarter, with the exception of the former site (before 1900) of the Clay statue in Canal Street where Royal Street and St Charles Avenue begin, which was the scene of popular meetings in the Italian troubles of 1891; here, in Liberty Place, a triangle at the intersection of Canal, North Peters and Tchoupitoulas streets, on the scene of the fight of the 14th of September 1874 between conservative citizens and the radical authorities of the state, is a granite memorial called the Liberty Monument. The Customs House, long renowned for its “marble room,” is in the old city, just off Canal Street. The corner-stone was laid by Henry Clay in 1847. The Boston (1845) and Pickwick (1857) are the best known of the general social clubs, and the Harmony (1862) of the Jewish clubs.
It is the French Quarter in which the history, poetry and romance of New Orleans are indissolubly united. The memory of French dominion is retained in the titles, and in the foreign aspect as well, of Toulouse, Orleans, Du Maine, Conti, Bourbon, Dauphiné and Chartres streets; while even more distinctly the Spaniard has superimposed his impress on stuccoed wall and iron lattice, huge locks and hinges, arches and gratings, balconies, jalousies, inner courts with parterres, urns and basins with fountains, and statues half hid in roses and vines. There are streets named from its Spanish governors: Unzaga, Galvez, Miro, Salcedo, Case Calvo, Carondelet and the baron Carondelet's Baronne. The moated and palisades boundaries of early days are indicated by the wide, tree-planted and grassy avenues named respectively from the Canal, the Rampart and the Esplanade that once lay along their course; the original “commons” outside the walls are commemorated in Common Street; and the old parade ground in the midst of the early town's river front, now laid off in flower-beds, white-shelled walks and shaven shrubbery, and known as Jackson Square, still retains its older name of the Place d'Armes. With this quaint, sunny and dusty old square is associated nearly every important event in Louisiana's colonial history. This was the place publique, associated with traffic, gossip, military muster and official acts of state. On one side is the cathedral of St Louis, first built in 1718, burned in 1788, rebuilt in 1792-1794, and largely rebuilt again in 1850. Flanking the cathedral on one side stands the calaboose (Calaboza, 1810), and on the other the Cabildo—so named from the municipal council that sat here under Spanish rule, when it was the government house and palace of justice. Both buildings are to-day used as law courts. The Cabildo is a dignified two-storey structure of adobe and shell lime, built in 1795; an incongruous mansard roof was added in 1850. On the 30th of November 1803, in the council hall, the city keys were handed back to the representatives of the French government and the people of Louisiana were absolved from their allegiance to the Spanish king; and here, only twenty days afterward, with similar ceremonies, the keys of the city passed from the hands of the French colonial prefect to those of the commissioners for the United States. In the old Place d'Armes a bronze equestrian statue (1846) of Andrew Jackson by Clark Mills is a remembrance of the ceremonies attending Jackson's triumphal entry into the city after the battle of New Orleans in 1815. In 1825 Lafayette was lodged in the Cabildo as the city's guest.
The appearance of the square was greatly changed in 1849, when the Baroness de Pontalba, in whose estate it was then comprised, cut down the ancient elms that shaded it and laid it out in its present style of a French garden. She also is responsible for the low brick “Pontalba Mansions” on the north and south sides of the square. The Babel of Tongues in the French Market (1813), on the site of an older market, immediately below Jackson Square, and at the “Picayune Tier” just adjacent, is an interesting feature of the city. Near the Cathedral, in Orleans Street, is the convent of the Holy Family, a brick building housing a negro sisterhood founded in 1835, and formerly the scene of New Orleans's famous “quadroon balls.” The archiepiscopal palace (1730), said to be the oldest building of the Mississippi Valley, is part of the unchanged original Ursuline convent; it was used as the State Capitol in 1831, and then it was the residence, and since 1899 has been the administrative office of the archbishop, and houses a colonial museum with the ecclesiastical records. The French Opera House (1860) was the successor of various French theatres built after 1808. The carnival balls are given here. New Orleans was by far the earliest of American cities to have an annual opera season.
The 18th-century fortifications about the old city were destroyed about 1804. The United States Branch Mint (1838) occupies the site of Fort St Charles (destroyed 1826), where Jackson reviewed his troops as they marched to Chalmette. Just outside the Vieux Carré is Beauregard Square, formerly known as Congo Square, because in early days the slaves were wont to gather here for their barbaric dances. The Hotel St Louis (1836), rebuilt in 1884 as the Hotel Royal, was the seat of the Republican reconstruction governments of governors Kellogg and Packard, and the prison fortress of both, respectively in 1874 and 1877, when the whites rose against Republican rule; its rotunda was also once a famous slave mart. Many other spots in the Latin Quarter are of scarcely less interest than those mentioned, not excluding those which were made famous by the romances of G. W. Cable, and whose only title to historic consideration is that which his imagination has given them.
City Park (216.6 acres, partly water), lying between the city and the lake, is notable in the local duelling annals of earlier days. Audubon Park (249 acres) was once the sugar plantation of Étienne de Boré, who first successfully made granulated sugar in 1795-1796; earlier experiments had been made in 1791 by Antonio Mendes, from whom de Boré, who established the sugar industry, bought a plantation in St Bernard Parish. The park was bought by the city for $180,000 in 1871, but was little improved until 1884, when the Cotton Centennial Exposition was held here. It contains to-day a state Sugar Experiment Station, in which a part of their work in course is done by the students in the Audubon Sugar School of the State University at Baton Rouge, and Horticultural Hall, the only one of the Exposition buildings now standing, with a display of tropical trees and plants; opposite Audubon Park is the campus of Tulane University. West End is a suburban resort and residential district on Lake Pontchartrain.
A noted feature of New Orleans is its cemeteries. Owing to the untrained condition of the subsoil, burials are made entirely above ground, in tombs of stuccoed brick and of granite and marble. Some of these are very elegant and costly, and many of the burial-grounds, with their long alleys of these tombs of diverse designs, deeply shaded by avenues of cedars and magnolias, possess a severe but emphatic beauty. Jews and the poor bury their dead underground in shallow graves. The oldest cemetery, St Louis No. 1, contains the graves of many persons notable in history. St Roch's Campo Santo has a wonder-working shrine, and is the most picturesque of the old burying-grounds. Metairie, on the site of an old race track, is the finest of the new. It contains a monument to the Army of the Tennessee and its commander, Albert Sidney Johnston, with an equestrian statue of Johnston by Alexander Doyle, and a monument to the Army of Northern Virginia surmounted by a statue of General T. J. Jackson. In Greenwood Cemetery is the first monument erected to Confederate dead, given by the women of New Orleans. At Chalmette (on the Mississippi, about 5 m. E. of Canal Street), where the battle of New Orleans was fought in 1815, there is a National Cemetery, in which some 12,000 Union soldiers in the Civil War are buried.
Population.—The population in 1900 was 287,104, New Orleans ranking twelfth among the cities of the United States; in 1910 it was 339,075. Of the 1900 total, 256,779 were native-born, and 30,325 were foreign-born, including 8733 Germans, 5866 Italians, 5398 Irish, 4428 French and 1262 English; and there were 77,714 negroes. In 1900 the population of foreign parentage was 108,010, of whom 78,269 had foreign fathers and foreign mothers, 27,259 being of German, 15,465 of Irish, 10,694 of Italian, 9317 of French and 1882 of English parentage. The Latin element that came in colonial times included Frenchmen, French-Canadians, colonists from the French and Spanish West Indies, Canary Islanders (whose descendants are still known as Isleños), and French refugees from Acadia in 1765 and the years following, and from Santo Domingo at the end of the 18th century. The earliest French immigrants were largely Bretons and Normans, and various creole words in common use (such as banquette for “side-walk”) still recall these racial beginnings. The creoles of New Orleans and the surrounding delta are a handsome, graceful, intelligent race, of a decidedly Gallic type, though softened in features, speech and carriage. Their dialect has been formed from the French entirely by sound, has no established orthography, and is of much philological interest. Until very recent years the Latin races, though fusing somewhat among themselves, mixed little in blood with the Anglo-American. The Spaniards when in power at the end of the 18th century were notably different from the French in their liberalism in this respect. In social life and standards the French creoles were very conservative; the old styles of dress, e.g. of the late 18th century—wigs, silk stockings and knee-breeches—lingered later among them, probably, than in any other part of the country. But before the pressure of Anglo-American immigration, capital, enterprise and education, this creole civilization has slowly yielded ground, at last fairly beginning to amalgamate with the social system of the American nation. But the creole has stamped his influence upon wellnigh every aspect in the life of the city that has broadened out so widely on every side of his antique town. Its cuisine, its speech, its “continental” Latin Sundays, its opera, its carnival, its general fashions and manners, its intolerance of all sorts of rigour, its whole outward tone and bearing, testify to this patent Latin impress. A comparatively recent addition to the Latin element in the city has been through Italian immigration.
The coloured population, notwithstanding the presence among it of that noted quadroon class which enjoyed a certain legal freedom for generations before the Civil War, has not greatly improved since the date of emancipation. Catholicism is naturally extremely strong in New Orleans. So also are the Baptist and Methodist churches.
Carnivals.—The famous carnival displays of New Orleans are participated in very largely by the “Americain,” i.e. the Anglo-American; but they mark one of the victories of the Latin-American over North-American tastes, and probably owe mainly to the “Americain” their pretentious dignity and to the creole their more legitimate harlequin frivolity. Out of the simple idea of masked revelry in the open streets, as borrowed from Italian cities, the American bent for organization appears to have developed, by a natural growth, the costly fashion of gorgeous torch-lighted processions of elaborately equipped masques in tableaux drawn on immense cars by teams of caparisoned mules, and combining to illustrate in a symmetrical whole some theme chosen from the great faiths or literatures or from history. Legends, fairy-tales, mythologies and theologies, literature from Homer to Shakespeare, science and pure fantasy are drawn upon for these ornate representations, which are accompanied by all the picturesque licence of street life characteristic of carnival times in other cities. They have no rival in America, and for glitter, colour and elaborateness are by many esteemed the most splendid carnival celebrations of the world. The first carnival parade (as distinguished from the Mardi Gras celebration) was held in 1827 by masked students recently returned from Paris. In 1837 and 1839 the first processions with “floats” were held in New Orleans. The regular annual pageants, almost uninterrupted save during the Civil War, date from 1857, when the “Mystic Krewe of Comus,” the oldest of the carnival organizations, was formed; similar organizations, secret societies or clubs are the “Twelfth Knight Revelers” (1870), “Rex” and “Knights of Momus” (both 1872, when the carnival was reviewed by the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia), the “Krewe of Proteus” (1882), and the “Krewe of Nereus” (1895). Balls, processions and other festivities are now spread over a considerable period, culminating in those of Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras). During this time the festivities quite engross public attention, and many thousands of visitors from all parts of America are yearly attracted to the city.
Charitable Institutions.—The large Charity Hospital (1786) and the Richard Milliken Memorial Hospital for Children are supported by the state. The Touro Infirmary (1854; controlled by the Hebrew Benevolent Association; founded by Judah Touro (1775-1854; a Jew of Dutch descent, son of Isaac Touro of Newport, Rhode Island), includes a free clinic open to the needy of all faiths. Other hospitals are: the U.S. Marine Hospital (1885); the Hôtel Dieu (1859) and the St Joseph's Maternity Hospital (1863), both under the Sisters of Charity; the Sarah Goodrich Hospital (1896; Methodist Episcopal); and the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital (1889; private). The Poydras Asylum, on Magazine Street, was founded in 1817 by Julien Poydras (1746-1824), H Successful trader and delegate from Orleans Territory to the Federal Congress in 1809-1811; the present building was erected in 1836; the asylum, which is for orphans, is controlled by Presbyterian trustees, although it was, during Poydras's life, under the charge of Sisters of Charity. St Vincent's Infant Asylum (1858), or “ Margaret's Baby House,” is in charge of Sisters of Charity. Other orphanages and children's homes are: the New Orleans Female Orphan Asylum (1849) and St Elizabeth's Industrial School (1845), under the Sisters of Charity; an Ursuline Orphanage (1729); the Immaculate Conception Girls' Asylum (1851) and St Mary's Catholic Orphan Boys' Asylum (1835, under the Sisters Marianites of the Holy Cross); the St Alphonsus Orphan Asylum (1878) and St Vincent's Home for Newsboys (1878), under the Sisters of Mercy; the Mount Carmel Orphan Asylum (1869), under the Sisters of Mount Carmel; the Sacred Heart Orphan Asylum (1894) for girls, under the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart; St Joseph's Orphan Asylum (1863), under the Sisters of Notre Dame; a Protestant Orphans' Home (1853); a Jewish Orphans' Home (1855); the Children's Home of the Protestant Episcopal Church (1859); the Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Orphan Asylum (1881); the German Protestant Orphan Asylum (1866); the Freedmen's Orphan Asylum (Baptist); and, under private and non-sectarian control, the Asylum for Destitute Orphan Boys (1824) and the Colored Industrial Home and School (1902). The J. D. Fink Fund and the Fink Home (1874) or Asylum (for Protestant widows and their children) are the gift of an eccentric, whose offer of marriage had been refused by one preferring not to marry at all, and who forbade that any old maid should enter the asylum. Other homes for adults are: the Soldiers' Home of Louisiana for Confederate Veterans; two Homes for the Aged (1869 and 1882), both under the Little Sisters of the Poor; the Faith Home (1888; Baptist) for old coloured women; the German Protestant Bethany Home (1889) and the German Protestant Home for the Aged and Infirm (1387); the Julius Weis Home for Aged and Infirm (1899), under the Hebrew Benevolent Association; and, all under private corporations, the Maison Hospitaliére (1893) for aged women, the New Orleans Home for Incurables (1893) and St Anna's Asylum (1850) for destitute women and their children. Temporary homes are: the Convent of the Good Shepherd (1859), under the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and a Memorial Home (1886; both for wayward women); a Home for Homeless Women (1888), and the New Orleans Convalescent Home (1885). Kingsley House is modelled after Hull House in Chicago. The Louisiana Retreat, a private asylum for the insane, is in New Orleans, and there also is a state House of Detention.
Education.—The public schools give equal opportunities to whites and blacks, but the whites take decidedly greater advantage of them; a large number even of the whites still make practically no use of either public or parochial schools. The races are kept separate: the attempt was made to mix attendance in 1870, but the whites compelled its abandonment. To a bequest of John McDonogh (1778-1850), whose life is one of the romances and the lessons of New Orleans, the city owes already some thirty school buildings. The Home Institute (1883) provides free night schooling for hundreds of students, and similar work is done on a larger scale by public night schools. Of the adult male population in 1900 13.4% were illiterate (could not write), seven-tenths of the illiterates being negroes, of whom the illiterates constituted 36%.
There are various higher institutions of learning in the city. Tulane University of Louisiana was named after its benefactor Paul Tulane (1801-1887), a merchant of New Orleans, who gave $1,050,000 in 1882-1887 to a Board of Trustees for the education of “the white young persons in the city.” The university was established, under
its present name, in 1884, the former university of Louisiana (1834) being merged in it; it gives free tuition in the academic department to one student from each senatorial and each representative district or parish in the state, and its income-producing property, up to $5,000,000, is exempted from taxation by the state. In 1908-1909 Tulane University had 192 instructors and 2236 students; and it included a Graduate Department, a College of Arts and Sciences (1884), a College of Technology with 157 students, Extension Courses with 148 students, the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College for Girls (1886; endowed in memory of her only daughter by Josephine Louise, wife of Warren Newcomb, a sugar merchant of the city), with 288 students in the college and 102 in Newcomb High School, a Teachers' College, a Law Department (1847), a Medical Department (1834) with 648 students, a Department of Pharmacy and a Summer School with 860 students. The College of the Immaculate Conception (Jesuit, 1847) is an important school. Higher schools for the negroes include Leland University (1870; Baptist), with college courses, preparatory courses (there are several Baptist secondary schools affiliated with the university), normal and manual training departments, a school of music, a theological school, a woman's Christian Workers' Class and a night school; Straight University (1870; Congregational), with kindergarten, primary, high school and industrial departments; New Orleans University (1873; Methodist) and Southern University (1883). The last is supported by the state.
Libraries.—The public, society and school libraries in the city in 1909, many being very small, aggregated 301,000 volumes, 227,000 being in five collections. A central library building and three branch buildings, costing $275,000, were presented to the city by Andrew Carnegie. The Howard Memoria Library (1887) is an important reference library, peculiarly rich in books on the history of Louisiana. The Louisiana Historical Society (1836) and the Athenée Louisiannaise (1876) may also be mentioned; the latter has for its purppse the conservation and cultivation of the French language. The Union Franchaise (1872) supplements with educational and charitable activities the general bond of fraternity offered by it to the French population. In New Orleans there is a State Museum, devoted to the history, institutions and resou rces of the state.
Newspapers.—Among the older newspapers are L'Abeille (1827) and the Picayune (1837), which is one of the most famous and influential papers of the South, and was founded by George Wilkins Kendall (1809-1867), a native of New Hampshire, who organized a special military correspondence for his paper during the Mexican War, probably the earliest instance of such service in the United States. The Times-Democrat (1863) is counted among the ablest and most energetic papers of the South. De Bow's Commercial Review (published in New Orleans 1846-1864), founded and edited by James D. B. De Bow (1820-1867), was in its day one of the most important periodicals of the country, and remains a valuable repository of information on conditions in the South before the war.
Commerce—It was its potential commercial value, as indicated by its geographical position, that in 1803, when New Orleans was only a small, poor and remote Franco-Spanish-American port, led to its purchase by the United States. But various causes operated to impede the city's growth: the invention of railway transit, the development of the carrying trade on the Great Lakes, the bars at the mouth of the Mississippi, over which few large ships could pass, the scourge of yellow fever, the provincialism and the lethargy of an isolated and indolent civilization. Slavery kept away free labour, and the plantation system fostered that “improvidence and that feudal self-complacency which looked with indolent contempt upon public co-operative measures” (G. W. Cable). However, in 1860 the exports, imports and domestic receipts of New Orleans aggregated $324,000,000. As a result of the Civil War the commerce of New Orleans experienced an early paralysis; the port was soon blockaded by the United States navy; the city fell into the hands of the Federal forces (1st May 1862); its commerce with the interior was practically annihilated until after 1865, and from the depression of the years following the war the city did not fully recover for a quarter of a century. Only after 1880 did its total commerce again equal that of 1860. It was almost solely as the dispenser of the products of the greatest agricultural valley in the world that New Orleans grew from a little frontier town to the dimensions of a great city. This trade is still dominant in the city's commerce. In the season that follows the harvest of the South and West, the levee, the wharves and the contiguous streets are gorged with the raw staples of the regions that lie about the Mississippi and its greater and lesser tributaries—sugar, molasses, rice, tobacco, Indian corn, pork, staves, wheat, oats, flour and, above all else, from one fourth to one-third the country's entire supply of cotton. All other movement is subsidiary or insignificant.
By 1900 the drawbacks which have been enumerated had been practically eliminated, and uncertainty as to the investment of capital had been removed. The southward tendency in railway traffic favours the city. Deep water to the ocean was secured by a system of jetties at the South Pass mouth of the Mississippi, built by James B. Eads in 1875-1879; but in time this ceased to maintain an adequate depth of water, and (after the report in 1900 of a board of engineers) in 1902 Congress began appropriations for an improvement of the South-west Pass by opening a channel 1000 ft. wide and at least 35 ft. deep. Many lines of steamers give direct connexion with the West Indies, Central America, Europe, New York and also with Japan (for the shipment of raw cotton via Suez). Ocean steamers, loaded in large part by elevators, now bear away the exports for which a swarm of sailing-ships of much lighter draft and average freight-room once made long stays at the city's wharves. Passenger traffic on the rivers has practically vanished, and the shrunken fleet of river steamers (only 15 in 1907) are devoted to the carrying of slow freights and the towing of barges on the rivers and bayous of the lower Mississippi Valley.
The total value of all merchandise exported in the six customs years 1902-1903 to 1907-1908 averaged $154,757,110 yearly, and the imports $37,319,254. For the ten years 1890-1899 the corresponding averages were $95,956,618 and $15,924,594. Bank clearings increased in the ten customs years preceding 1906-1907 from $447,673,946 to $1,027,798,476 (bank clearings were $956,154,504 and $786,067,353 respectively for the calendar years 1907 and 1908). There has been an extraordinary increase of exports since 1900, and imports from Central America have similarly increased. Cotton represents roughly two-thirds of the value of all exports. As a cotton port New Orleans in 1908 was second only to Galveston, which had only recently surpassed it; and more than half of the raw cotton exports of the country passed through these two ports. The Board of Trade has maintained a cotton-inspection department since 1884, and its statistics are standard on the cotton crop. Cotton exports in the four seasons 1903-1904 to 1906-1907 averaged 1,001,199,468 ℔, valued at $104,108,824. Wheat and flour, Indian corn, lumber and tobacco are especially noteworthy articles of the export, and bananas and coffee of the import, trade. Importations of coffee have more than quintupled since 1900; the coffee comes for the most part from Brazil and grain wholly from American fields. The imports of bananas, for which New Orleans is the leading port of the country, more than doubled in the same period, and increased more than eight-fold in the twenty-live years following 1882 (1,200,000 to 10,200,000 bunches).
Railway traffic has grown immensely, and port facilities have been vastly improved in recent years. A belt railway owned by the city (built 1905-1907) connects all railway terminals, public wharves and many manufactories and warehouses. Public ownership protects the city's interest in the harbour front, while at the same time all railways are equally and cheaply served; and new railways, which could not enter the city or have access to the water front because of the impossibility of securing individual trackage, can now enter on the municipal belt. Of privately owned railway terminals in 1908 those of the Illinois Central system had nearly 200 m. of track; the Stuyvesant Docks of the railway have 15 m. of track, a wharf almost 1 m. long, immense Warehouses and grain elevators. The New Orleans Terminal Company constructed at Chalmette
(1908) splendid terminals, including an immense slip in the river (1500×300 ft., excavated to give 30 ft. of water below zero gauge) capable of accommodating nine vessels at dock simultaneously, and arranged with remarkable conveniences for the loading of grain. Steel-concrete warehouses and elevators surround the slip. The greater industrial establishments of the city cluster about the terminals. New Orleans is served by eleven railways, including the Illinois Central, Southern Pacific, Texas & Pacific and Louisville & Nashville systems. The New Orleans & North-eastern crosses Lake Pontchartrain over a trestle bridge 7 m. long (originally 25 m. before end filling).
Within the city are two canals, now of little importance, because too shallow except for local trade: the Carondelet or Old Basin canal, built in 1798, is 2.5 m. long, 55-65 ft. wide and 7 ft. deep, and goes via Bayou St John to Lake Pontchartrain; and the New Basin Canal, built in 1837 by the New Orleans Canal & Banking Company, and state property since 1866, is 6.7 m. long, 100 ft. wide and 8 ft. deep, and also connects with Lake Pontchartrain. Neither of these canals connects with the Mississippi river as do the following privately owned canals: the Lake Borgne Canal, from a point 10 m. below the city to Lake Borgne, 7 m. long, 80 ft. wide, 7 ft. deep, shortening the water distance between Mobile and New Orleans by 60 m.; and the Barataria & Lafourche Company Canal (7 m. long, 45 ft. wide and 6 ft. deep) and Harvey's Canal (5.35 m. long, 70 ft. wide and 6 ft. deep), both connecting with the Bayou Teche region.
Manufactures.—Manufacturing has greatly developed since 1890. The value of products increased 146.7% from 1880 to 1890, and in the following decade the increase of wages paid, cost of materials used and value of product were respectively 7.6, 53.3 and 31.5%. In 1905 the value of the factory product was $84,604,006, 45.4% of the value of the total factory product of the state, and an increase of 47.3% since 1900; during this same period capital increased 36.6%, the average number of wage-earners 8.9%, the amount of wages 20.5% and the cost of materials used 53.3%. The sugar and molasses industry is the most important, with a product value of $34,908,614 in 1905; New Orleans ranked second to Philadelphia among the cities of the country in the value of this product, that of New Orleans being 12.6% of the total value of the country's product. At New Orleans is a sugar refinery said to be the largest in the world. Of the manufactures from products of the state the most noteworthy are rice (value of product cleaned and polished in 1905, $4,881,954), bags other than paper ($4,076,226), cotton-seed oil and cake ($3,698,509), malt liquors ($2,170,714), tobacco ($1,408,883), lumber and timber products ($1,644,329) and planing mill products ($1,105,497) and cotton goods ($1,081,951). Other important manufactures are foundry and machine-shop products ($2,085,327), men's clothing ($1,979,308), coffee and spice roasted and ground ($1,638,263) and steam railway cars constructed and repaired ($1,627,435). New Orleans is the chief centre of the country for the manufacture of cotton-seed products and for rice milling. Oyster canning is a recent and rapidly growing industry. There are also furniture establishments, paper mills and cotton cloth mills.
Government.—Municipal government is organized under a charter framed by the state legislature in 1896, and amended by acts of 1898 and 1900. The seven municipal districts correspond to seven independent faubourgs successively annexed. A mayor and various other executive officers and a legislative unicameral council are elected for four years. The mayor and the heads of departments consult as a “cabinet.” Various boards—of civil service, public debt, education, health, police, fire, drainage, water and sewerage and state commissioners of the port—control many of the most important interests of the city. The mayor, through his office and his appointive powers, exercises great influence in a number of these. In 1896 New Orleans followed the example of New York and Chicago in subjecting its civil service to a competitive merit system and to rules of a civil service board. The police board is non-partisan. The board of education is composed of seventeen members, each elected by one of the seventeen wards of the city. In addition to the city board of health, a state board acts with municipal authority, and (since April 1907) the United States government maintains the maritime quarantine of the Mississippi. The commissioners of the port are officials of the state. Owing to the complete dominance of the Democratic party, all reform movements in politics must come from within that organization. Reform organizations have been intermittently powerful since 1888, and among their achievements for good were the beginning of the great drainage and sewerage improvements and the adoption of the charter of 1896. The present government of the city compares very favourably with systems tried in the past. In 1909 the total assessed valuation of property was $221,373,362, of which $154,604,325 was realty and the remainder personalty. The bonded debt on the 30th of June 1909 was $32,521,040 and the floating debt at the end of 1908 was $1,264,030.
From 1890 to 1900 the expenditures for permanent works (including sewerage, lighting, paving, levees, improvements in connexion with street and steam railways, docks, &c.) aggregated $30,000,000. Almost all the public services, nevertheless, were in 1909 in private hands. Electric traction was introduced in 1891-1895, and the street railways were consolidated in 1902 under one management. In 1869 the city bought, and nine years later sold again, the waterworks; municipal ownership and control, under a sewerage and water board, was again undertaken in 1900. In 1900 arrangements were made to transfer the extensive markets from private lessees to direct municipal control, and in May 1901 the wharves of the city passed from private to municipal control. The municipal belt railway was constructed in 1905-1907.
Until 1900 there were no sewers, open gutters serving their purpose. It is remarkable that the city twice granted franchises to private parties for the construction of a sewerage system, but without result. The low and extremely level character of the city site, of which nearly one-third is at or below the level of the Gulf, the recurrence of back-water floods from Lake Pontchartrain and the tremendous rains of the region have made the engineering problems involved very difficult. In 1896 a Drainage Commission (merged in 1900 in a Sewerage and Water Board) devised a plan involving the sale of street railway franchises to pay for the installation of drainage canals and pumps, and in 1899 the people voted a 2-mill tax over 42 years assuring a bond issue of $12,000,000 to pay for sewerage, drainage and water works to be owned by the municipality and to be controlled by a Sewerage and Water Board. Work was begun on the sewerage system in 1903 and on the water works in 1905. In 1906 the legislature authorized the issue of municipal bonds for $8,000,000 to be expended on this work. Up to 1909 the drainage system had cost about $6,000,000 and the sewerage system about $5,000,000; and 310 m. of sewers and nine sewerage pumping stations discharged sewage into the Mississippi below the centre of the city. Garbage is used to fill in swamps and abandoned canals. The new water-supply is secured from the river and is filtered by mechanical precipitation and other means. By 1909 about 500 m. of water-mains had been laid, $7,000,000 had been expended for the water-system, and filtering plants had been established with a capacity of 50,000,000 gallons a day. In August 1905 a city ordinance required the screening of aerial cisterns, formerly characteristic of the city, which were breeding-places of the yellow fever Stegomyia, and soon afterwards the state legislature authorized the Sewerage and Water Board to require the removal of all such cisterns. About two-thirds of the street surface in 1899 was still unpaved; the first improvements in paving began in 1890.
As regards hygienic conditions much too has been done in recent years. New Orleans was long notorious for unhealthiness. Yellow fever first appeared in 1769, and there were about thirty epidemics from 1769 to 1878. Though the first board of health and first quarantine system date back to 1821, from 1787 to 1853 the average death-rate was 59.63 per 1000; never did it fall below 25.00, which was the rate in 1827. In 1832, a cholera year, it rose to 148; in 1853-1854-1855, the great yellow-fever years, complicated in 1854-1855 by cholera, it was 102, 72 and 73. During these three years there were more than 25,000 deaths. The millesimal mortality in 1851-1855 and succeeding quinquennial periods to 1880 was as follows: 70, 45, 40, 39, 34.5 and 33.5. The rate reported by the national census of 1900 was 28.9, the highest of any of the large
cities of the United States. This high death-rate is often attributed in great part to the large negro population, among whom the mortality in 1900 was 4211 per 1000; but the negro population largely comprises that labouring element whose faulty provision for health and sickness in every large city swells the death-rate. A light yellow-fever epidemic occurred in 1897-1898-1899, after nineteen years of immunity, and a more serious one in 1905, when the United States Marine Hospital Service for a time took control of the city's sanitation and attempted to exterminate the Stegomyia mosquito. The city Board of Health has done much to secure pure food for the people, and has exercised efficient oversight of communicable diseases, including yellow fever. In movements for the betterment of the city—in commerce, sanitation, public works and general enterprise—a leading part has been taken by an organization of citizens known as the New Orleans Progressive Union, whose charter and by-laws prohibit its participation in political and religious issues.
History.—New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Lemoyne, Sieur de Bienville, and was named in honour of the then Regent of France. The priest-chronicler Charlevoix described it in 1721 as a place of a hundred wretched hovels in a malarious wet thicket of willows and dwarf palmettos, infested by serpents and alligators; he seems to have been the first, however, to predict for it an imperial future. In 1722 New Orleans was made the capital of the vast province of Louisiana (q.v.). Much of the population in early days was of the wildest and, in part, of the most undesirable character—deported galley-slaves, trappers, gold-hunters and city scourings; and the governors' letters are full of complaints regarding the riffraff sent as soldiers as late as Kerlerec's administration (1753-1763). In 1788 a fire destroyed a large part of the city. In 1795-1796 the sugar industry was first put upon a firm basis. The last twenty years of the 18th century were especially characterized by the growth of commerce on the Mississippi, and the development of those international interests, commercial and political, of which New Orleans was the centre. The year 1803 is memorable for the actual transfer (at New Orleans) of Louisiana to France, and the establishment of American dominion. At this time the city had about 10,000 inhabitants, mostly French creoles and their slaves. The next dozen years were marked by the beginnings of self-government in city and state; by the excitement attending the Aaron Burr conspiracy (in the course of which, in 1806-1807, General James Wilkinson practically put New Orleans under martial law); by the immigration from Cuba of French planters; and by the American War of 1812.
In 1815 New Orleans was attacked by a conjunct expedition of British naval and military forces from Halifax, N.S., and other points. The American government managed to obtain early information of the enterprise and prepared to meet it with forces (regular and militia) under Maj.-Gen. Andrew Jackson. The British advance was made by way of Lake Borgne, and the troops landed at a fisherman's village on the 23rd of December 1814, Major-General Sir E. Pakenham taking command there on the 25th. An immediate advance on the still insufficiently prepared defences of the Americans might have led to the capture of the city, but this was not attempted, and both sides remained inactive for some time awaiting reinforcements. At last in the early morning of the 8th of January 1815 (after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed) a direct attack was made on the now strongly entrenched line of the defenders at Chalmette near the Mississippi river. It failed disastrously with a loss of 2000 out of 9000 British troops engaged, among the dead being Pakenham and Major-General Gibbs. The expedition was soon afterwards abandoned and the troops embarked for England.
From this time to the outbreak of the American Civil War the city annals are almost wholly commercial. Hopeful activity and great development characterized especially the decade 1830-1840. The introduction of gas (about 1830); the building of the New Orleans and Pontchartrain railway (1820-1830), one of the earliest in the United States; the introduction of the first steam cotton press (1832), and the beginning of the public school system (1840) marked these years; foreign exports more than doubled in the period 1831-1833. Travellers in this decade have left pictures of the animation of the river trade—more congested in those days of river boats and steamers and ocean-sailing craft than to-day; of the institution of slavery, the quadroon balls, the medley of Latin tongues, the disorder and carousals of the river-men and adventurers that filled the city. Altogether there was much of the wildness of a frontier town, and a seemingly boundless promise of prosperity. The crisis of 1837, indeed, was severely felt, but did not greatly retard the city's advancement, which continued unchecked until the Civil War. In 1849 Baton Rouge replaced New Orleans as the capital of the state. In 1850 telegraphic communication was established with St Louis and New York; in 1851 the New Orleans & Jackson railway, the first railway outlet northward, now part of the Illinois Central, and in 1854 the western outlet, now the Southern Pacific, were begun.
The political and commercial importance of New Orleans, as well as its strategic position, marked it out as the objective of a Union expedition soon after the opening of the Civil War. Captain D. G. Farragut (q.v.) was selected by the Union government for the command of the Western Gulf squadron in January 1862. The four heavy ships of the squadron (none of them armoured) were with many difficulties brought up to the head of the passes, and around them assembled nineteen smaller vessels (mostly gunboats) and a flotilla of twenty mortar-boats under Commander D. D. Porter (q.v.). The main defences of the Mississippi consisted of the two permanent forts Jackson and St Philip. These were of masonry and brick construction, armed with heavy rifled guns as well as smooth-bores, and placed on either bank so as to command long reaches of the river and the surrounding flats. In addition, the Confederates had some improvised ironclads and gunboats, large and small. On the 16th of April, after elaborate reconnaissances, the Union fleet steamed up into position below the forts, and on the 18th the mortar-boats opened fire. Their shells fell with great accuracy, and although one of the boats was sunk and two disabled, fort Jackson was seriously damaged. But the defences were by no means crippled even after a second bombardment on the 19th, and a formidable obstacle to the advance of the Union main fleet was a boom between the forts designed to detain the ships under close fire should they attempt to run past. At that time the eternal duel of ship versus fort seemed to have been settled in favour of the latter, and it was well for the Union government that it had placed its ablest and most resolute officer at the head of the squadron. Gunboats were repeatedly sent up at night to endeavour to destroy the boom, and the bombardment went on, disabling only a few guns but keeping the gunners of fort Jackson under cover. At last the gunboats “Pinola” and “Itasca” ran in and broke a gap in the boom, and at 2 A.M. on the 24th the fleet weighed, Farragut in the corvette “Hartford” leading. After a severe conflict at close quarters, with the forts and with the ironclads and fire rafts of the defence, almost all the Union fleet (except the mortar-boats) forced its way past. At noon on the 25th Farragut anchored in front of New Orleans; forts Jackson and St Philip, isolated and continuously bombarded by the mortar boats, surrendered on the 28th; and soon afterwards the military portion of the expedition occupied the city. The commander, General B. F. Butler, subjected New Orleans to a rigorous martial law so tactlessly administered as greatly to intensify the hostility of South and North, but his administration was in many respects beneficial to the city, which was kept both orderly and healthy. Towards the end of the war General N.P. Banks held the command at New Orleans.
Throughout the years of the Civil War and the Reconstruction period the history of the city is inseparable from that of the state. All the constitutional conventions were held here, the seat of government again was here (in 1864-1882) and New Orleans was the centre of dispute and organization in the struggle between the races for the control of government. Notable events of that struggle in city history were: the street riot of the 30th of July 1866, at the time of the meeting of the radical constitutional convention; and the “revolution” of the 14th of September 1874, when the White League worsted the Republican metropolitan police in pitched battle and forced the temporary flight of the Kellogg government. The latter was reinstated in power by the United States troops, and by the same power the Democrats were frustrated in January 1875, after they had wrested from the Republicans the organization of the state legislature. Nevertheless, the “revolution” of 1874 is generally regarded as the independence day of Reconstruction, although not until President Hayes withdrew the troops in 1877 and the Packard government fell did the Democrats actually hold control of the state and city. The financial condition of the city when the whites gained control was very bad. The tax-rate had risen in 1813 to 3%. The city defaulted in 1874 on the interest of its bonded debt, later refunding this ($22,000,000 in 1875) at a lower rate, so as to decrease the annual charge from $1,416,000 to $307,500. Among events in the decade 1880-1890 were the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884-1885 (celebrating the centennial of the cotton industry of the country), and the introduction of electric lighting (1886); in the decade 1890-1900 the introduction of electric transit, the latest charter and the improvements in public works already detailed. The lynching of Italian subjects by a mob in 1891 caused serious international complications.
Among the many floods from which the city has suffered those of 1849 and 1882 were the most destructive.
Bibliography.—For description see the Historical Sketch Book and Guide to New Orleans . . . compiled by several leading writers of the New Orleans Press (New York, 1885); B. M. Norman, New Orleans and Environs (New Orleans, 1845); Grace King, New Orleans, the Place and the People (New York, 1895); and the novels and magazine writings of G. W. Cable. The Picayune publishes a guide, frequently revised. For administration, Manual of the City of New Orleans (periodical); W. W. Howe, “Municipal History of New Orleans,” in Johns Hopkins University Studies, series vii., No. 4 (Baltimore, 1889); for accounts of the worst of the yellow-fever epidemics, W. L. Robison's Diary of a Samaritan, by a member of the Howard Association of New Orleans (New York, 1860); Report of the Sanitary Commission of New Orleans on the Epidemic Yellow Fever of 1853 (New Orleans, 1854); and for much miscellaneous information, 10th Census of the United States (1880), Social Statistics of Cities. History and Present Condition of New Orleans . . . by G. E. Waring and G. W. Cable (Washington, 1881).
- In the burial vault of this tomb, with the bodies of many other soldiers, are the remains of General P. G. T. Beauregard, who was born near New Orleans.
- At the earlier censuses the population of the city was as follows: 17,242 in 1810 (when it was the sixth city in population in the United States); 27,176 in 1820 (when, as in 1830 and 1850, it was the fifth city); 46,082 in 1830; not reported separately in 1840; 116,375 in 1850; 168,675 in 1860; 191,418 in 1870; 216,090 in 1880; and 242,039 in 1890.
- See William Allan's Life and Work of John McDonogh (Baltimore, 1886).
- The South-west Pass, originally the usual entrance, could not be entered by vessels drawing more than 16 ft.; the Eads jetties, aided by dredging, provided through the South Pass (500 ft. broad) a channel 180 ft. wide and 25 to 28 ft. deep. South-west Pass has always been the primary outlet of the river, venting half or more of its volume. Active work on its improvement was begun in 1903 and practically completed in 1909. Including the jetties, this Pass is nearly 20 m. long and has an average width of about 2150 ft.; the deep channel through it is more than 1000 ft. wide. The jetties, 4 m. long on one side and 3 m. on the other, are 6000 ft. apart at their head and 3600 ft. at the sea line. They are built on willow mats (foundation mats 200×150×2 ft.) in wooden frames, sunk with stone and surmounted above the water by a concrete wall.
- The value of the river commerce was about $58,000,000 in 1816 and $82,000,000 in 1849. The first steamboat descended the Mississippi to New Orleans (from Pittsburg) in 1811, and the first steamboat trip up the river was made in 1817. The halcyon period of river steamer traffic was from 1840 to 1860. The luxury of the passenger boats then on the Mississippi and the immense volume of the freighting traffic are things of the past since the advent of the railway era. The best time ever made (1870) from New Orleans to St Louis (1278 m.) was 3 days, 21 hours and 25 minutes. The races of these river boats were prominent news items in the papers of America and even in those of Europe, and they have been recorded in more than one page of literature. Steam packets replaced sailing vessels in the ocean trade about 1845.
- The charter of 1805 organized the old cité (the Vieux Carré) and the faubourgs as distinct municipalities with almost wholly separate governments: they issued paper money independently, for example. The charter of 1836 was also an extreme statement of local self-government; the municipalities were practically independent, although there was a common mayor and a general council of the entire city meeting once annually. This organization was in large part due to the hostility of the creoles to the Americans. The charter of 1852 formed a consolidated city. That of 1856 added to and amended its predecessor. That of 1870 was very notable as an attempt to secure a business-like and simplified administration. A mayor and seven “administrators,” elected on a general ticket and constituting individually the different administrative departments, formed collectively a council with legislative powers. All sessions of the council were public, and liberties of suggestion were freely accorded to the citizens. Tried in better times, and as a movement for reform sprung from the people and not due primarily to an external impulse, this system might have been permanent and might have exercised great influence on other cities. The early 'seventies were marked by a great widening of the city's corporate limits. In 1882 another charter went back to the ordinary American plan of elective district councillors chosen for the legislative branch, and executive officers chosen on a general ticket. The latter held seats in the council and could debate but not vote. This is the present system.
- They were leased to a private company in 1891-1901, but the lease was unprofitable and was disadvantageous to trade. From 1901 to 1908 wharfage and harbour dues were reduced 25 to 85%.
- But the death-rate of New Orleans was not so high as that of some smaller Southern cities, Richmond (29.7), Savannah (34.3) or Charleston (37.5), for example. According to Mortality Statistics, 1905 (Washington, 1907), the death-rate in New Orleans in 1905 was 23.7, and the annual average between 1900 and 1904 was 23.1.
- Two of the lakes in the vicinity commemorate respectively Louis Phelypeaux, Count Pontchartrain, minister and chancellor of France, and Jean Frederic Phelypeaux, Count Maurepas, minister and secretary of state; a third is really a landlocked inlet of the sea, and its name (Lake Borgne) has reference to its “incomplete” or “defective” character.
- In October 1890 the chief of police was assassinated, and before he died charged the crime to Italians. He had been active in proceedings against certain Italians accused of crime, and his death was popularly attributed to the Mafia. Nineteen Sicilians were indicted, and of nine put on trial six were acquitted and three escaped conviction on the ground of a mis-trial. On the 14th of March 1891 a mob broke into the jail and lynched eleven of the accused. The Italian government demanded that the lynchers should be punished, entered claims for indemnity in the case of the three Sicilians who had been Italian subjects, and, failing to secure as prompt an answer as it desired, withdrew its ambassador from Washington. In 1892 the United States paid an indemnity of $25,000 to Italy.