Ten things you may not know about New Orleans

So you’ve rode the St. Charles Streetcar, lived it up in the French Quarter, and eaten enough gumbo to fill a family of four and are now left wondering what facets of New Orleans you haven’t mastered. Do not fret: simply read on for informative tidbits about this cultural playground you may not have known.

 

  1. Uncle Sam wants you: Before the poster campaign and mass personification, the term Uncle Sam originated on the dockside of pre- U.S. territory New Orleans. New Goods that passed through the docks labeled U.S. were nicknamed “Uncle Sam.”
  2. Supersize Me: New Orleans is home to the world’s biggest enclosed stadium, none other than the Superdome. With a name so impressive sounding, it is no surprise that the structural steel frame covers a whopping 13-acre expanse and has the capacity to hold over 87,000 spectators.
  3. Taking a gamble: A gentleman by the name of Bernard de Mandeville introduced the first version of Craps to America in 1813 in New Orleans. In my book, this is definite cool points for “The Big Easy.”
  4. Don’t rain on my parade: The city of New Orleans did precisely this in 1973 when fire and police departments deemed Mardi Gras parades in the French Quarter unsafe. A parade ban was implemented in this popular sector from then on.
  5. The power of independence: Many visitors wonder who coordinates Mardi Gras. The answer to this being nobody. While parade permits are granted by city governments, each organization is one hundred percent self-governing. Independence is a beautiful thing.
  6.  What ails you? At 514 Chartres Street in the French Quarter lies the oldest pharmacy in America. Here early medical mixtures were known as cocktails, which later gave way to yet another meaning.
  7.  King me. Chess master Paul Morphy was born in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Visit his house at 1113 Chartres Street which is now a museum. And who knows? You may find a worthy opponent lurking around the corner.
  8.  Concrete jungle: 1807 marked the first New Orleans “skyscraper;” the first four-story (hold your gasp) building in the city, it still stands at the corner of Royal Street and St. Peter Street.
  9. Historic foundations: Once known as the widest street in the world, Canal Street was named after a canal that was planned for and never built.
  10. Facts and figures: Here’s something to wrap your head around. If you added up the total miles of canals-above and below ground level- in New Orleans, it would exceed that of Venice, Italy.
  11. Lagniappe! Lagniappe is a term used in Louisiana meaning a gift for good measure, like a thirteenth donut in a dozen, or an eleventh fact in a set of ten. So here it goes: After the Louisiana purchase, Americans coming to New Orleans had to work with the local French based banking system. A ten dollar French note was a DIX, pronounced (similar to six) like “deece.” Americans sounded it like it read, “Dix” (like “sticks”.) Soon enough, going to the French Quarter became the slang, “going to Dix-ieland” and the rest is history.

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