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New Orleans

A Little History...

As one of the oldest cities in the United States, New Orleans is rich with heritage and culture. First settled by Native Americans 10,000 years ago, it’s written history begins in the early 1600’s when the Spanish settled the city. The Spanish established a fort on the bend of the river, largely to protect the fur trade that traveled the Mississippi. Later, it was the French who would occupy this fort, renaming it the French Quarter. To the west, the Acadians, having been exiled from Nova Scotia, settled in the 1700’s. The Acadians would later be known as the Cajuns. Even from its inception, New Orleans was known for its welcoming tolerance, and it quickly became one of the most racially and ethnically diverse cities in the use: Germans, Cubans, Blacks, Italians, Irish, Greeks in addition to its Native American founders would occupy the city in harmony. This spirit of cosmopolitan tolerance and diversity continues today, and it explains in part the 412 festivals each year…. Representing each of these unique cultures. It remains the “Ellis Island” to the Americas. Read more about New Orleans History.

Since its inception, it has grown to fill the space between the winding Mississippi river (to the south, east and west) and Lake Ponchatrane (to the north). Early in its history, the city was organized into very narrow plantation tracks that would extend from the river (some as narrow as a few 100 yards) extending inwards; this insured that everyone had access to the mighty Mississippi for exporting their goods. Even today, the streets of New Orleans parallel the plantation tracks, extending perpendicular to the river. Cross streets follow the course of the river.

As you move away from the river, the elevation drops, and it was not until the 1700’s that the swamps that occupied this territory began to be drained. As the population increased, and New Orleans progressively became a prominent port for European travels and exporters, more and more of the swamp was drained. But with swamp land persisting, mosquitos, and thus yellow fever prevailed. It was for this reason that Charity Hospital was established in 1634 by the Daughters of Charity. For the same reason, Tulane Medical School was established over a century later. Both have persisted with amazing perseverance and resolve.

New Orleans Today...
The city has 10 districts, each with a special flavor, and sure to fit every preference. Those opting for a quiet, sub-urban large space lifestyle can find affordable housing on the West Bank, Meterie, Lakeview and the Northshore. Those opting for a cosmopolitan, urban feel can find many options in the French Quarter.... if you want an even more international & hip feel, then the Marigny is for you. For a modern hip scene, there is the CBD and the Arts District. For the ultimate in historic livinig, there is the Garden District, and a further up the river you’ll find Uptown and Carrolton… historic in its own right, it is a quiet, safe and unique area. Most of the Tulane residents will find a home in the Uptown area, but residents live in each of the districts. Housing is incredibly affordable for a major city…. Certainly affordable for the quality of life and cosmopolitan options New Orleans offers.

Family Life in New Orleans...
New Orleans has a reputation for being a party town, and if that’s what you want it to be, it certainly is. But once you leave the French Quarter, you’ll find some of the most beautiful, peaceful and safe neighborhoods in the country. With overarching Oak trees, and lush, green parks, this will be a perfect place for your family. Tulane has a relationship with Tulane Kid-opolis (200-child, accredited daycare facility for children of faculty and staff) and the Newcome Child care center for daycare, and with the schools having been redesigned in the city, New Orleans (especially Tulane) can be a great place for families. Perhaps this is the reason that our residency has a balanced complement of single and married (many with children) residents.

All that water... are there any beaches?
Why yes…. The beaches around the Mississippi are not that great, the silt from the river makes the water a bit murky. But take an 1.5 hour drive east and you’ll find some crystal clear water… with white sand beaches. It just happens to be the site of our intern (3 day) retreat each year…. Resident retreat as well!

Is New Orleans Safe?
New Orleans has crime, just like every other city in the US. The recent new spotlight cast upon New Orleans has created a negative appearance that is way out of proportion to the reality. The truth of the matter is that New Orleans did NOT make the list of the 100 most unsafe cities, and for its population, ranks somewhere in the middle of the countries major cities. A comparison to other major cities is listed below (source: http://www.bestplaces.net/)

What about Katrina?
Katrina no doubt had a devastating effect on New Orleans, but the city has reached recovery. All but New Orleans East and the Ninth Ward (grey portion on the map above) has reached full recovery. Prior to the storm the city was home to 500,000 (Orleans Parish) and 1.5 Million in the metro area. The population is now is 300,000 in Orleans Parish and 1.5 Million in the metro area. It is estimated that between 5,000 to 10,000 people return to the city each month, heralding the future growth and expansion of the city. The public schools have been completely rebuilt, and the levies have been shored up to prepare for the next 50-year storm (if it comes). The incredible pace of reconstruction has brought an added diversity to the city, as the Mexican-American community has established itself squarely within the diversity of the other cultures that comprise New Orleans. There has never been a better time to be a part of this great city.

And perhaps you are wondering about why Katrina receives such paucity of attention on this website. Largely because we are over it, but mostly because the Tulane and New Orleans has moved past the devastation to a new era of growth and prosperity…. Much like New York City recovered from 911, Chicago from the great fire, San Francisco from its earthquakes, and every other city that has suffered a national disaster. New Orleans Lives…. Just as it has since the early 1600’s.