8 Top Mind-Blowing Things You Probably Don’t Know About New Orleans, Louisiana – Mississippi River

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Port of New Orleans (POLA), Louisiana, U.S.A.

Located in Louisiana and along the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain near the Gulf of Mexico, the Port of New Orleans or POLA for short is considered one of the biggest ports in the world and the midway of a busy maritime community. It is an important transportation and distribution center for sea commerce with a lot of shipping, ship building, freight forwarding, logistics and commodity, brokerage companies are headquartered in this port. POLA also accounts for much of the USA’s oil refining and petrochemical production including corporate headquarters for on-shore and off-shore producers of natural gas and petroleum.

The Port of New Orleans is also an important grain port for the US and the world. It exports raw as well as processed agricultural products, chemicals, fabricated metals, textiles, tobacco, paperboard, petroleum and petroleum products.

Some Few Facts About The Mississippi River:

Full of fascinating terrain at both ends that starts at the state of Minnesota, USA and ends in Louisiana (USA), Mississippi River is the 3rd largest river in North America. From Lake Itasca which is its source to the Gulf of Mexico, its end, said river drops 1,475 feet with its deepest point at Algiers Point in New Orleans which is at 200 ft. in depth.

Affecting different cultures and heritages, the Mississippi River passes along the US states of : Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. It ranks as the 4th largest river in the world and owes its name from the Ojibwe Indians which they called it “Misi-ziibi” or “great river”. It is also a major transportation route for goods and commodities especially for ships coming in from the Gulf of Mexico and many of Mark Twain‘s (the great American writer) stories are related to this river, like his famous novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

An Overview on New Orleans:

New Orleans is a unique city in the USA because of its location and blend of cultures. Claimed in the name of France by the explorer Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682 but it was the French governor of Louisiana, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville who founded the city of La Nouvelle-Orleans in 1718. In 1762-63, France had signed treaties surrendering Louisiana to Spain thus for 40 years New Orleans was a Spanish stronghold. Louisiana returned to French rule in 1803 then sold to the United States after 20 days through the Louisiana Purchase.

The historic Canal Street, in 19th century New Orleans, this street became the “neutral ground” between the Creole French Quarter and the American “newcomers”; now the Central Business District of the city.

The Americans were viewed by the French and Spanish Creoles (locally-born descendants of early settlers) as low class, uncultured people who were not suited to the elite society. These newcomers were not wanted in the old city thus Canal Street (pictured above) was built at the edge of the Upper Mississippi River of the French Quarter to keep the Americans out. Later in the 18th century, a revolt had risen in Haiti that brought refugees to Louisiana and they were educated and skilled artisans who made their mark in New Orleans in the field of politics and business.

Map showing the location of New Orleans, Louisiana.

I remember New Orleans like it was yesterday, I remember it for its streetcars, amazing food, music scene, distinctive vibe and non-stop pace. In all of my sailing years I’ve seen New Orleans several times: 1992 (M/T Knock Allan), 1996-1998 (M/T Knock More and M/T Knock Dun), 2001 (M/T Knock An) all from the Fred Olsen Lines then with the IVS Leopard Moon in June 2016 coming from Mexico City for oil discharging. There is so much to discover in this bustling city. I’ve rounded up 8 top mind-blowing things you don’t know about The Big Easy.

1. It has been owned by three countries: France, Spain and the USA.

The French Quarter of New Orleans.

A top mind-blowing thing you don’t know that New Orleans was founded by France, then colonized by Spain and eventually sold to the U.S.A. Thus it is a city in a class of its own that takes pride of its eclectic connections.

2. The home of the jazz.

Thanks to New Orleans, it gave us jazz as well as rock & roll and the blues, a top mind-blowing thing you don’t know and this music genre owe its roots to the slaves who were allowed to use drums when they gather socially on Sundays outside the city center (known as Congo Square in later years). It was introduced to the world in 1891 by Buddy Bolden, a barber. In addition to this, it is possible that you may encounter a jazz funeral when you visit New Orleans wherein the (funeral) procession is ushered by jazz music and dancing to send off the deceased in a “jubilant” manner.

3. Best known for its Mardi Gras festival.

A top mind-blowing thing you don’t know that New Orleans and Mardi Gras (pronounced mardee gra) are analogous. This is a carnival season with parades and programs which starts on a 12th night (Jan. 6) and ends on a Fat Tuesday (before Ash Wednesday). However, the first Mardi Gras festival in the US took place in Mobile, Alabama in 1703 then spread to New Orleans in 1718 though its parade began in 1857.

4. It is one of the most haunted and spookiest city in the U.S.

The haunted LaLaurie Mansion in the French Quarter.

At the historic French Quarter of New Orleans, it is famous as the most haunted part of the city, a top mind-blowing thing you don’t know, specifically the LaLaurie Mansion. This is a house of horror of which many of the haunting are credited to the slaves that the mistress of the mansion, Madame Delphine Lalaurie (circa 1800s) had maltreated. It is said that after a fire gutted the house on April 10, 1834, rescuers saw bodies of slaves chained to the walls as well as scattered body parts on the floor in the attic. And speaking of creepy things, voodoo practice is alive here in New Orleans but it has nothing to do with using “dolls” to inflict torment to people but in the form of rituals, dances and songs to cure ailments. Voodoo was popularized in the 1800s by Marie Laveau, a.k.a. The Voodoo Queen.

The ill-famous Madame Delphine LaLaurie and the slaves she had tortured.

5. Sometimes she’s called “NOLA” or “The Big Easy”, either way it’s one and the same.

A top mind-blowing thing you don’t know that New Orleans is sometimes called NOLA, shortened form of New Orleans, Louisiana. And she’s even hailed as “The Big Easy” for its laid back ambience, an opposite to fast pace “The Big Apple” or New York City. However, NOLA/The Big Easy is not the capital of Louisiana as most travelers assume, but it’s Baton Rouge.

6. Jambalaya and beignets are must-try foods in New Orleans.

And no trip to The Big Easy without indulging with its jambalaya and well-known beignets. A top mind-blowing thing you don’t know that jambalaya is a delectable mix of meat (or seafood), veggies and rice, just like the Spanish paella which made its way to NOLA’s French Quarter. Beignets is a fried dough dusted with powdered sugar. You can always relish them all over the city for as long as you want.

Beignets on the go at Cafe Du Monde, a famous cafe in New Orleans.

7. The spikes you’ll see on poles around the city were at some point used to protect the “jeune fille” (or young girls) from undesired suitors.

At some point, the spikes on poles in NOLA served to protect the daughters of French aristocratic families from undesired lovers. Indeed a top mind-blowing thing you don’t know, the “Romeo spikes or Romeo catchers” were made to protect suitors of young girls from climbing the second floors of French Quarter mansions in the night, but at present time, the spikes are there to fend off Mardi Gras revelers from climbing up the said poles.

The famous “Romeo spikes” on second floors of houses in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

8. Lake Pontchartrain Causeway here in The Big Easy is named by Guinness Book of World Records as “the longest bridge in the world.”

A top mind-blowing thing you don’t know that Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in NOLA is named by Guinness as world’s longest bridge. Motorists are known to stop dead in panic at the middle when they can’t see any sight of land on both sides of the bridge. And it t was known that many babies were born on this bridge as it took a very long time for husbands to reach the hospital for the safe delivery of their wives.

This is just a tip off the iceberg of what The Big Easy has to offer as a travel destination. By learning something about this place it will give you a better perspective of the sights and sounds of New Orleans. You know, the world belongs to the daring voyager and I hope the pandemic will bring you a better purpose of traveling – that is to allow yourself to truly experience an amazing city like NOLA rather than just see its famous destinations.

Reference: Wikipedia