New Orleans. La Nouvelle Orléans. The Crescent City. La Ville. The City That Care Forgot ... the greatest city in the world!
(Just do yourself and us a favor and please DON'T call it "The Big Easy". Lesson One -- not a single native New Orleanian would ever call the city that. It's akin to a native San Franciscan referring to that city as "Frisco", or a native Bostonian saying "Beantown" ... it just ain't done.)
This city, founded in 1718 on the banks of the Mississippi by Jean Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville, and his brother Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d'Iberville, has endured swamps, mosquitoes, floods, fires, hurricanes, and its politicians throughout the centuries to stand as perhaps the most culturally unique city in America.
Thank God the French got here first.
Can you imagine what New Orleans might have been had the Pilgrims gotten off at Pilottown instead of Plymouth?
It's frightening... We might have been burning witches instead of café brûlot; or preaching to the quadroon beauties instead of dancing with them; or spending eons eating boiled beef and potatoes, instead of Écrevisse Cardinal, or pompano en papillote, or gumbo.
But the French, ah the French! They came here full blown with life and love, not refugees. God-centered and narrow; but adventurers, gamblers, fat with a culture that made living a love affair of the senses, and secure in the knowledge that while sin was the work of the devil, its nearest occasions were the particular art of the French.
-- Phil Johnson
News director, editorial writer
WWL-TV, New Orleans
It's a city surrounded by water -- Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi River, and myriad bayous, canals and waterways. Being below sea level, we need complex systems of levees, drainage canals, spillways and pumping stations to keep the life-giving water from killing us. Here's how it looks from above, in a 347KB image of the City of New Orleans and surrounding areas, taken from the space shuttle Endeavour.
Despite popular misconception, New Orleans is not a Cajun city, though many Cajuns live there. The people, culture and cuisine of New Orleans are Creole, and have a long and distinguished history in the city going back to its founding.
New Orleans is a world apart, in many ways its own little city-state, part of the United States but at the same time so different from every other place in that country. Our history, people, architecture, food, music and traditions make New Orleans a great place, warts and all. The land of Mardi Gras, jazz, King Cakes, streetcars, cafe au lait and beignets, muffulettas, neutral grounds, heat, humidity, crawfish, Yats, hurricanes (both the storm and the highly intoxicating drink), the French Quarter, gumbo, and red beans 'n rice is a great place to visit, and you might just wanna live there after all!
First off, you must know that it's quite an understatement to describe the weather in New Orleans as unpredictable -- you can be broiling in the morning, and cold and soaked with rain in the afternoon. About the only thing that's predictable is that in July and August it'll be damned hot, and that it's always humid. Other than that, you'd better be prepared.
Here are the current and extended weather forecasts from the New Orleans Weather Page, courtesy of Yahoo! Weather.
Next, if you're going to have any luck understanding the locals, you'd better know the language. Think this is easier than going abroad? Ha! So, we offer you a lesson in our local speech, sort of a New Orleans Lexicon. Or simply ... it's how ta tawk rite.
Now, here's some help with finding a place to stay, where to eat, where to hear music, where to buy music, and anything else I can think of. Above all ... HAVE FUN!!
Food and Drink
- The Creole and Cajun Recipe Page
- For those of you who love to cook. This sub-site contains hundreds of down-home and restaurant-quality recipes from Louisiana's cuisines.
- Great New Orleans restaurants (Chuck's picks)
- Read about the trip I took back home to New Orleans in October 1994 to do nothing but eat. The establishments where I dined included Andrea's, Antoine's, Bayona, Brigtsen's, Camellia Grill, Central Grocery, Christian's, Emeril's, Galatoire's, House of Seafood, Mother's, and more!
Where to get the best Po-Boys in New Orleans
- Louisiana Chefs, Restaurants and Cooking Schools
- Restaurant web sites, plus where you can take beginner's or professionally-oriented cooking classes and curricula in the Crescent City
- The New Orleans Menu
- A critical review of dining and cooking in America's best eating city, by local food critic Tom Fitzmorris. Includes the archives of the email newsletter, The New Orleans Menu Daily ... subscribe!
- The Food Section
- of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
- NOLA Cuisine
- Celebrating the food and drink of New Orleans, Louisiana. Great site.
- Great Watering Holes and Bars of New Orleans
- Quiet places for elegant sipping, noisier places to liquify your brain.
Music, Clubs, Festivals, Tourism
- The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
- Links to the official Jazzfest site, plus for a little instructional session, my exhaustive account of the 1994 Jazzfest ... THIS is how ya do it!
Here's an Insider's Guide to Jazzfest
- Bands I think you should know about,
- including musicians you should make a special effort to see when in New Orleans
- Clubs: Where to hear the music in New Orleans
- Plus comprehensive and up-to-date listings of who's playing in the clubs in New Orleans this month, brought to you by Offbeat, the Louisiana music magazine.
- Headed to (or living in) New Orleans with your Palm Pilot?
- Now, thanks to the wonderful NOLA Live site, you can download a weekly music calendar and have it with you wherever you go. Who's at Tip's, the Maple Leaf, Howlin' Wolf, Snug Harbor or the Funky Butt? Whip out yer Pilot, pick a club and go. This is a GREAT idea.
- The French Quarter Festival
- Two weekends before Jazzfest, featuring 3 days of food (60 booth) and music (13 stages) in the French Quarter. Geared especially toward locals, but of course, everyone's welcome.
- Huli's 2007 Calendar of Louisiana Festivals and Events.
- With about 400 events, this is the most complete listing to festivals in the state. All the festivals are listed on the grid and then alphabetically with the town name and phone number. On the top of each month are about 4-5 photographs of the actual festivals. The calendars, which sell for $13.95 + shipping, are available in Louisiana bookstores or by calling (504) 488-5993.
- The Red Hot Jazz Archive
- A history of jazz before 1930. Thousands of full length songs from the era in Real Audio format, as well as hundreds of biographies and discographies of early jazz and blues musicians and bands. Superb.
- The Jazz Clearinghouse
- Don't let the name fool you. This is a huge clearinghouse for jazz information on the Web, which would no doubt be of interest to those interested in The Birthplace of Jazz. Founded by Dr. Ron Capps of the Buchanan High School Jazz Band in Clovis, California.
- The Louisiana Music Archive and Artists Directory
- A fantastic online guide to New Orleans music and Louisiana music, and perhaps the best place to track down information on local bands and musicians.
- The Louisiana Music Commission
- Promoting Louisiana music at home and abroad. News, press releases, not much more so far.
- LMNOP: Louisiana Music, New Orleans Pride Music Conference
- The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
- The only full-time professional symphony orchestra in the Gulf South region.
- Musicians: Some local players, on da Web
- Frankie Ford: Ooo-wee, baby! Won't you let me take you on a Sea Cruise?
Charlie Miller: Jazz, blues and R&B trumpeter
The Neville Brothers, New Orleans' first family of funk
Mem Shannon: Bluesman who doesn't have to drive a cab anymore
John Sinclair: Poet, performer, music journalist, WWOZ music programmer, and more
- New Orleans' non-commercial radio stations, especially ...
- WWOZ, 90.7 FM, New Orleans' Jazz and Heritage community radio station ... the best anywhere! Now webcasting live to the Net via RealAudio!
- Radio Free New Orleans
- A virtual radio station on the Web, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, featuring the sounds of New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana. A brainchild of New Orleans musician Ron Cuccia. Fantastic.
- Recommended New Orleans record stores
- The City of New Orleans' Official Mardi Gras Home Page
- Mardi Gras in New Orleans
- Another Mardi Gras-related site
- The Carnival FAQ
- About New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebration
- The Krewe of Bacchus
- The Krewe of Pontchartrain
- Rex, King of Carnival
- The Krewe du Vieux
- The Krewe of Zulu
New Orleanian Culture
- The Gumbo Pages Bookshop
- Chuck's recommended books on New Orleanian history, culture, food, music, novels, photography and politics. Available here for purchase online in association with Amazon.com Books, with many at discounted prices!
- Allison Miner - A Cultural Legacy
- Allison was a tireless crusader in helping and promoting New Orleanian culture, from working with the Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, brass bands and black Indian tribes, to being an early and essential part of WWOZ and Jazzfest. Allison passed away in 1996, and this wonderful site is offered in her memory.
- The Bywater Neighborhood Association
- Tom Graham's wonderful site about the old Creole neighborhood bordered by Faubourg Marigny, the Mississippi River and the Industrial Canal. History, current news and events, virtual architectural tours and more. This is where my family is from.
- The Friends of Jackson Square
- A civic organization dedicated to the preservation of the French Quarter's historic square.
- Gens de Couleur Libres
- The free black Creoles of New Orleans in the 18th and 19th Centuries co-existed with the white Europeans, and contributed much to the culture of the City. As the site's history puts it, "when tourists and natives alike visit the French Quarter, they may not realize that much of what they see and taste is due to the Creoles of Color."
- The K&B Drugs Memorial Page
- "Streetcar" Mike Strauch has put up his tribute to K&B -- the venerable, late, lamented and beloved drugstore chain that was more than just a drugstore, it was part of our culture. Soda fountains, great magazine racks where I'd read photography magazines while I was supposed to be in church, and everything a gorgeous shade of K&B purple.
- Our Language: How ta tawk rite
- A New Orleans Lexicon and guide to local pronunciation and language. We must do all we can to teach the world that, as local language expert Bunny Matthews put it, "we are not a city of mint julep-swilling Southern belles."
See Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker's stupendous film "Yeah You Rite", about the local New Orleans dialect. Essential for natives, fans of the city, and linguists as well. From the Center for New American Media.
- Morgus the Magnificent
- Little do most non-natives know that New Orleans is home to Momus Alexander Morgus, M.D. (genius), one of the world's foremost scientists (and horror movie hosts).
- New Orleans Eccentrics
- From characters like Ruthie the Duck Girl to strange places and bars, this is the Crescent City at its strangest and most eccentric.
- A home page for the New Orleans community, with continually updated news and weather, stories from the Times-Picayune, comics, horoscopes and much more!
- The New Orleans Public Library home page. Includes a link to the Library's online catalog, as well as online exhibits, a Louisiana & New Orleans Fact Finder, and detailed inventories of archival materials in the New Orleans City Archives (complete with images from the collection).
- New Orleans History - Lake Pontchartrain
- A look at the history of life along the lakefront "the way it was", from the Haynes Blvd/Little Woods fishing camps to a look at jazz along the lakefront.
- The New Orleans Radio Theatre, Inc.
- The Preservation Resource Center
- PRCNO is a non-profit organization founded in 1974 to help protect New Orleans' architectural and historical heritage.
- Save Our Cemeteries
- An organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the historic cemeteries of Louisiana, and to foster a public appreciation of the architectural and cultural value of these historic cemeteries.
- Tulane University's Special Collections Division
- New Orleans jazz history, architectural history, medical history; New Orleans literature and politics.
- You know you're a native New Orleanian if ...
- ya do, say, or think dis stuff.
- Bed and Breakfasts in New Orleans
- Some really nice places to stay, at rates competetive with or less than local hotels, and with the homier touch of feeling like you're a guest in someone's home ... 'cause you are!
- French Quarter Hotel Collection
- Web sites and info for the Bourbon Orleans, Dauphine Orleans, the St. Louis, St. Ann/Marie Antoinette, Inn on Bourbon, Maison Dupuy, Chateau Lemoyne, and more.
- Hostels in New Orleans
- For the visitor on a tight budget, if you have to go on the cheap.
- Room With a View
- A New Orleans citywide hotel referral agency
Books, Magazines and Periodicals
- Local newspapers and periodicals
- Where to read up on The City and find listings of what's going on; links to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the alternative weekly Gambit, the excellent New Orleans Magazine, and more.
- Louisiana Authors Index
- A lot of great writers came out of Louisiana. Look for them, and many others, here.
- Louisiana State University Press
- They published "A Confederacy of Dunces". For that alone, they're great.
New Orleans Television Stations
- WDSU-TV, Channel 6
- The first TV station in New Orleans, and an NBC affiliate since 1948.
- WGNO-TV, Channel 26
- You've come a long way, baby ... Channel 26 was for many years "the independent station" in town, meaning lots of reruns and old movies (fortunately, some of them hosted by the unforgettable Guru S. Malady, whom Dan Milham would rather forget). When Channel 8 changed their network affiliation from ABC to Fox, Channel 26 leapt at the opportunity and entered the big leagues.
- WNOL-TV, Channel 38
- The WB Network's affiliate in New Orleans
- WUPL-TV, Channel 54
- The UPN affiliate. Where I get my "Star Trek" fix when I'm home.
- WWL-TV, Channel 4
- The CBS affiliate. Where you can still get the straight dope from Nash Roberts when a hurricane threatens the city.
Other New Orleans and Louisiana-related Web Sites
New Orleanians on the Web: Personal Home Pages
- John Del Toro's Yeahyourite Page.
- Sybil Kein's Creole New Orleans Gumbo People
- Frank Serpas III
- Who, for the true masochist, maintains an unofficial page dedicated to da New Orleans Saints
- Dave and Susie Witt's Guide to Romance in New Orleans
Non-commercial, informational sites
- Greater New Orleans Free-Net
- Local free ISP (free is my favorite price).
- The Louisiana Credit Union League
- The Louisiana Notary Association
- featuring information on the history and role of Louisiana's special civil law notary
- Lower Decatur Street, New Orleans
- News, reviews, events, shopping, dining, entertainment and happenings in the Lower Decatur Street neighborhood of the French Quarter, along Decatur between Ursulines and Esplanade.
- New Orleans: A Virtual Library
- Greg Hardison's astonishing New Orleans collection
- The NO/AIDS Task Force
- Selected Louisiana Resources on the Internet
- The biggest collection of links I've seen.
University Web Sites in New Orleans
- Dillard University
- A historically black, liberal-arts institution, located in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans.
- Loyola University
- My alma mater, that of my parents, plus my two sisters spent some time there too (they eventually finished at USL and LSU Nursing School, respectively)
- LSU Medical Center
- Where my sis got her degree in Nursing.
- Tulane Medical Center
- Where my friend Peter got his M.D.
- Tulane University
- They were next door to Lye-ola, with a better newspaper and radio station, but worse food (during my 1978-1982 student days, at least. I can't speak for the food now, but the radio station and newspaper are still better.
- University of New Orleans
- Where my uncle Mike and aunt Rhonda went, and where oodles of other folks I know went too. Any school where Ellis Marsalis is head of the music department has got to be okay.
- Xavier University of Louisiana
- "The only historically black, Catholic college in the Western Hemisphere." Also known for one of the few remaining pharmacy schools in the south.
Government and Official City and State Sites
- Louisiana Lottery Results
- They have Powerball now. You too can get in on the Idiot Tax!
- Info Louisiana
- State Government Information
- State Library of Louisiana
- Featuring an online catalogue.
- The New Orleans City Council
- Offering calendars, agendas, e-mail contacts, etc.
- United States Senators and Representatives from Louisiana
- Keep track of 'em. I don't trust politicians, particularly politicians from Louisiana.
Commercial (and Miscellaneous) Sites
- Pen-and-Ink artist Martin Benoit
- of Covington, La., sells his work online
- Cultural Icons
- The definitive Louisiana image bank, featuring the work of reknowned New Orleans photographer Michael P. Smith
- The Louisiana AtoZ Regional Resources Page
- The Louisiana Home Page
- From a commercial access provider in New Orleans.
- VIRTUALLY NEW ORLEANS
- "A Hypertext Guide to the Crescent City" This site doesn't appear to have been updated since 1997.
The minute you land in New Orleans, something wet and dark leaps on you
and starts humping you like a swamp dog in heat, and the only way to get
that aspect of New Orleans off you is to eat it off. That means beignets
and crawfish bisque and jambalaya, it means shrimp remoulade, pecan pie,
and red beans 'n rice, it means elegant pompano en papillote, funky
filé z'herbes, and raw oysters by the dozen, it means grillades
for breakfast, a po-boy with chow-chow at bedtime, and tubs of gumbo in
between. It is not unusual for a visitor to the city to gain fifteen
pounds in a week - yet the alternative is a whole lot worse. If you
don't eat day and night, if you don't constantly funnel the indigenous
flavors into your bloodstream, then the mystery beast will keep on
humping you, and you will feel its sordid presence rubbing against you
long after you have left town. In fact, like any sex offender, it can
leave permanent psychological scars.
-- Tom Robbins, from Jitterbug Perfume
Last updated on April 4, 2007. Post-Katrina updating (slowly) in progress.
Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)