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40 Interesting Facts About New Orleans

We decided to make a fun list of New Orleans facts that you can dive into in your spare time. Let us know what we missed!

1.) New Orleans locals are called “New Orleanians”. 

2.) While many automatically assume that New Orleans is the capital of Louisiana – it actually isn’t. Baton Rouge is, however, New Orleans was twice named the capital during the 19th century. 

3.) The total land size of New Orleans is 350.2 square miles (901 sq km).

4.) New Orleans is located on the famous Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico. 

5.) The real name of New Orleans is Bulbancha. Bulbancha is a Choctaw word that means “place of many tongues” because Bulbancha was, a trading port for many different peoples, of distinct heritages and linguistic groups.

6.) The original streets of the city’s French Quarter are all named after French royalty and nobility. 

7.) New Orleans’ Canal Street was once the widest street in the world. This is mainly due to the fact that – made obvious by its name – it was originally meant to be the location for a canal. 

8.) The Louisiana State Museum is home to the death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte, which was cast a day after his death in 1821 on the island of St Helena. 

9.) NOLA’s St Louis Cathedral is the oldest operating cathedral in the United States. 

10.) Louisiana is the only state in the U.S that isn’t divided into counties. It’s instead broken up into parishes. The greater New Orleans region spans eight parishes, but the inner city is mostly Orleans Parish. 

11.) The crime rate in New Orleans is three times that of the national average. It’s a city that, while vibrant and fun, has a seedy underbelly. It goes without saying that taking safety precautions and traveling in couples or groups is the best way to see this city. 

12.) New Orleans is one of the Top 10 U.S destinations for visitors. In 2017, over 17 million visitors came to New Orleans and contributed $8 billion to the local economy.  As a result, tourism is a major part of the local economy.

13.) Most people don’t enunciate New Orleans when pronouncing it. It has evolved to be pronounced like “Nawlins” by most. 

14.) Most New Orleans people hate the Nawlins punctuation

15.) The nickname for New Orleans is “The Big Easy”. It earned this nickname thanks to its laid-back, easy-going vibe that is the polar opposite of the non-stop fast pace of New York City – or “The Big Apple”. 

16.) The game of poker originated in New Orleans, as did the game craps. It was named craps due to its original name of “crapaud”, which is the French word for “frog”. This links back to the nickname many give to the French – “frog eaters”. 

17.) Louis Armstrong, one of the most influential Jazz musicians in history is from New Orleans.

18.) New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz.

19.) Dental floss was invented by New Orleans dentist Levi Spear Parmly.

20.) Bounce music started at a 17th ward club called Ghost town where TT Tucker used to perform weekly.

21.) The New Orleans NFL team is the New Orleans Saints. They have only won the Super Bowl once, in 2010.

22.) New Orleans is one of the few cities where alcohol is served 24 hours. Bars are allowed to be open all day every day, and drinking on the street is allowed granted the drink is in a plastic to-go cup.

23.) The total mileage of canals both above and below ground in New Orleans exceeds that of Venice in Italy.

24.) New Orleans is widely considered to be one of the United States’ most haunted and spooky cities.

25.) Voodoo was made popular in NOLA in the 1800s by Marie Laveau, who was given the nickname of “The Voodoo Queen” for voodoo practices.

26.) Congo Square in Armstrong Park was a gathering location for slaves in New Orleans.

27.) The historic French Quarter of New Orleans is widely believed to be the most haunted part of the city. 

28.) The tombs of New Orleans’ historical cemeteries are all located above ground. This is due to the high water table in the area.

29.) The Thomy Lafon School in the Magnolia Projects was built on a gravesite.

30.) Mardi Gras is held across New Orleans during the two weeks before and through Fat Tuesday. The actual day of “Mardi Gras” is an official holiday across Louisiana.

31.) Mardi Gras Indian tribes formed as a result of racial discrimination by the Mardi Gras Krewes.

32.) New Orleans has 17 wards. They were originally used as voting districts. City council members used to be elected by Ward.

33.) Algiers is a part of Orleans Parish and sits in the 15th ward.

34.) It’s estimated that 25 million pounds of throws and Mardi Gras items are thrown from floats each year. Most of these are left on the streets of New Orleans, but thankfully, many of these throws are collected, recycled, and used in the next year’s celebration.

35.) The early beginnings of jazz music can be attributed to the fact that New Orleans slaves were the only slaves in the world that were allowed to own drums. Mainstream jazz can be dated back to the 1910s, but truly became a part of New Orleans culture after WW2.  

36.) While not entirely synonymous with hip-hop and rap, New Orleans actually played a pivotal role in the development of the genre in the 1990s. Major labels No Limit Records and Cash Money Records were founded in NOLA, and major artists like Drake are still signed with Cash Money. Iconic New Orleans rap and hip hop artists include Mystikal, Soulja Slim, and Master P.  

37.) New Orleans is one of the only U.S cities that has been owned by multiple countries. Founded by France, it was then under Spanish rule before being purchased by the United States. 

38.) New Orleans has the highest number of historic neighborhoods and districts of any city in the United States. These are 20 distinct historical districts across the city. 

39.) New Orleans’ City Park is not only the largest municipal park in the United States, but its beginnings are fascinating, to say the least. It was once the location of the famed Duelling Oaks, where Creole men met to settle their scores with swords, pistols, and Bowie knives. 

40.) Forget New York or Chicago, it was actually New Orleans that was the original home of the mafia in The United States. This may be due to the fact that NOLA was actually the preferred U.S destination for Italian immigrants before they moved to New York. 

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