New Orleans

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New Orleans skyline in 2007.

New Orleans is a city near the mouth of the Mississippi River, in Louisiana.


New Orleans was first settled by France, in 1718.[1] France ceded control to Spain, in 1760. Spain ceded control back to France, in 1803, and it became part of the United States of America in 1807, through the Louisiana Purchase.

The last battle of the War of 1812 was fought successfully defending the city from an attack from the Royal Navy, on January 8, 1815.[2]

As the upper reaches of the Mississippi was developed New Orleans became an important port.[3][4]


New Orleans lies in the Mississippi River's delta, with the original settlement being built on a small section of high land.[3] Most of the city is built on former swamp land. And early developers surrounded the expanding city with dikes. Pumping out groundwater had the unfortunate side-effect of lowering the ground level, so much of the city is below sea level, making breaches of the dikes a potential disaster.

Transportation and Commerce

New Orleans is one of the largest and most important ports on planet Earth.[3][4] The Mississippi is the largest river in North America, both by length and volume of water.

The US Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for maitaining locks and wing dams on the river.[5] The locks are used to make sure the river is deep enough for the vessels that use it. Locks on the Mississippi are all ten feet deep. The wing dams are underwater structures intended to control the river's channel. The Mississippi carries a lot of silt, and prior to the efforts of the Corps of Engineers the river's strong currents regularly deposited new sand banks and cut new channels, making it essential vessels were under the control of a skilled river pilot.


  1. Danny Monteverde. VERIFY: Does New Orleans have an actual birthday?, WWL TV, 2017-12-15. Retrieved on 2022-06-29.
  2. New Orleans - Chalmette Plantation. American Battlefield Trust. Retrieved on 2022-06-29.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Downriver to New Orleans, 1820–1890. National Museum of American History. Retrieved on 2022-06-29. “By 1850, New Orleans was the second busiest port in the United States and the fourth largest in the world.”
  4. 4.0 4.1 Andrew Armstrong (2008-01-01). New Orleans and the Mississippi River. Hydro International. Retrieved on 2022-06-29. “New Orleans sits in the centre of what is by far the largest port complex in the United States and, reckoned by tonnage handled, the largest in the world.”
  5. Jonathan Raban. Old Glory. Retrieved on 2022-06-29.