Though Louisiana as a State to-day resembles every other state, New Orleans as a city to-day is very unlike any other city. Despite modern office buildings, the guild of innovators, despite blue-sky laws and the Eighteenth Amendment, the city's identity, her individuality, her cap and bells quality seem as droll and native as ever. The "old town," or French Quarter, is being restored to its former uniquity. The spirit remains, the old buoyant spirit of pristine times.

New Orleans architecture includes the best traditions of the French Renaissance, the Spanish-Moorish and the Colonial, also a pot-pourri of exotics originating from God knows what eras and countries. The opera was here in 1796, before the birth of Chicago. When New York had but a paltry two hundred thousand population, Nouvelle Orleans was a city with cabarets, coffee houses, bathing parties, dueling bouts, gallantry and sportsmanship. The horse race originated on the old driveway past Metairie to Lake Pontchartrain. In the St. Louis and the Metairie Cemeteries rows of tombs are in masonry tiers above ground, owing to the low level of most of the city's terrain.

At first mostly a village of trappers and adventurers, New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French. When in 1762, they were crowded out of the valley by the English, the vast Louisiana territory lying mostly west of the Mississippi River was acquired by Spain. It reverted to the French in 1800, only to be sold three years later to the United States by Napoleon, who preferred the price of fifteen million dollars to the prospect of again losing the domain to the English.

In 1778 and 1794 fires blotted out most of the French town, and the old New Orleans we now know is chiefly of Spanish build. The streets generally have French or Spanish names, and there is still a distinctive French quarter peopled by the Creoles. Here the buildings have walls of adobe and stucco, tiled roofs, arcades, balconies, jalousies, porto-cocheres and inner courts with splashing fountains and semi-tropical plants. The Creole is Latin-American, a white person, and not, as frequently believed, French Mulatto. He is the direct descendant of the Spanish and French pioneer.

Close to the levee is Jackson Square, formerly the Place d'Armes, with the St. Louis Cathedral, built in 1794. To its left stands the Cabildo, once the Spanish Courthouse, in which took place the transfer of Louisiana to the United States. The equestrian statue of Gen. Andrew Jackson memorizes the battle of New Orleans in which the British were defeated in 1815.

The French Market, nearby, should be visited in the early morning when mammy, creole madame, the chefs and minor attendants of the cuisine fill their baskets with the rich produce of the Delta. At the corner of Chartres and Hospital streets stands the oldest building, the Ursuline Convent, built in 1730.

Famous the world over is the annual Mardi Gras carnival, celebrated with great splendor. The name signifies Fat Tuesday, a term derived from Paris, where for centuries a fat ox had been led in the jolly procession, followed by a triumphal car bearing a child called the "Butcher's King." Thus New Orleans had its first Rex and Mardi Gras in 1837.

If present-day Louisiana has a claim to color, a note of her own, it is lodged unmistakingly in this sunny, unquenchable spirit of the people of New Orleans.


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