New Orleans (Or'lee-anz; but often Or-leens'), the chief city of Louisiana, and a great port and mart, is situated on both sides of the Mississippi River - the greater portion on the east bank - 107 miles from its month, and 1190 miles SW. of New York. The city proper has a river frontage of 13 miles, and its western district, 'Algiers,' of 3 miles. The Mississippi makes two bends here, whence the city was called 'The Crescent City,' but it is now shaped like the letter S. The river is from 600 to 1000 yards wide, and 60 to 240 feet deep. The bar at its mouth was removed in 1874-79 by the Eads jetties in South Pass, and vessels of 30 feet now easily reach New Orleans. The city is the second in the United States for exports ; next to Liverpool it is the greatest cotton market of the world. It is the terminus of three canals, and of six large railroads and three local lines, while thirty lines of steamships connect it with other American and foreign ports. Since 1875 it has made great progress in manufactures, particularly in cotton goods, cotton-seed oil, machinery, lumber, furniture, fertilisers, sugar-refining, rice-milling, beer, cigars, etc. The site is perfectly flat, and lies from 3 to 6 feet below the level of the Mississippi at high-water, being protected from overflow by levees or dykes of earth. Similar levees in the rear keep out the waters of Lake Pontchartrain. The soil is saturated with water, and cellars are impossible. Hence also in its cemeteries the dead are buried in mounds above the level of the ground. The climate is warm and clamp, the mean temperature for the year being 69° F. The summer is tempered by winds from the Gulf, and is not oppressively warm. On account of its situation, the city is badly drained.
The imposing custom-house of granite cost $4,500,000; the cathedral of St Louis (1794) is a good sample of Creole-Spanish architecture. The archiepiscopal palace (1737) is the oldest building. Other noteworthy structures are the cotton exchange, U. S. mint, St Charles Hotel, Christ and St Patrick's churches, Tulane University (known as the University of Louisiana from 1834 to 1883), the affiliated Sophie Newcomb Memorial College (1887) for the higher education of girls, and the Jesuit College of the Immaculate Conception. The Howard Memorial (1888), Tulane, and Louisiana state libraries, all free, contain together 120,000 volumes. The Charity Hospital (1784) is the largest institution of its kind in the States, with accommodation for 800 to 1000 persons. There are several parks little improved, but with monuments to Jackson, Lee, Franklin, and others.
The site of New Orleans was first visited in 1699 by Bienville, who in 1718 laid the foundations of the city, and in 1726 made it the capital. In 1763 it was ceded to Spain by France, with the rest of Louisiana ; but when in 1765 the Spanish governor attempted to take possession, he was driven out, and the people established a government of their own till 1769, when the Spaniards occupied it. It was ceded to France in 1802, and transferred to the United States a few days later. Incorporated as a city in 1804, it was divided in 1836-52 into three separate municipalities, in consequence of the jealousies between the Creoles and the Americans. Other outstanding events have been the defeat of the British by Andrew Jackson in 1815; the capture in 1862 by the Federal fleet; serious political troubles with fighting in 1874 and 1877 ; and the lynching in 1891 of 11 Italian maffiosi. In 1880 the capital of Louisiana was removed from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Pop. (1802) 10,508 ; (1840) 102,193 ; (1880) 216,190; (1900) 287,104 - very cosmopolitan.