New Orleans

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New Orleans

New Orleans (ôrˈlēənz –lənz, ôrlēnzˈ), city (2006 pop. 187,525), coextensive with Orleans parish, SE La., between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, 107 mi (172 km) by water from the river mouth; founded 1718 by the sieur de Bienville, inc. 1805. It was built within a great bend of the Mississippi (and is therefore called the Crescent City) on subtropical lowlands, now protected from flooding by levees. The river is crossed there by the Algiers Bridge (completed 1991), the Huey P. Long Bridge (completed 1935), and the Greater New Orleans Bridge (completed 1958), which is one of the largest cantilever bridges in the country. Lake Pontchartrain is spanned by a 24-mi (39-km) double causeway (opened 1957).


The largest city in Louisiana and one of the largest in the South, New Orleans is a major U.S. port of entry. It has long been one of the busiest and most efficient international ports in the country. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are among its imports; exports include oil, petrochemicals, rice, cotton, and corn. Coastal traffic is heavy (the city is at the junction of the Intracoastal Waterway with the Mississippi River), and New Orleans is a major rail, highway, air, and river hub. It has an international airport. Its fine port helped make the New Orleans area one of the leading industrial centers in the South, although most of the larger industries were developed relatively recently. Food processing is a major enterprise. The region has shipbuilding and repair yards as well as factories manufacturing a wide variety of goods, including wood, paper, and metal products; foods and beverages; building stone; medical and building equipment; comunication systems; apparel; and aircraft parts. There is also printing and publishing. Many oil and chemical plants are located along the Mississippi River west of New Orleans.

Points of Interest

The picturesque French quarter (Vieux Carré) of the old city, north of broad Canal St., is a major tourist attraction. In the heart of the quarter is Jackson Square (the former Place d'Armes); fronting upon the square are the Cabildo (1795; formerly the government building, it now houses part of the Louisiana state museum); St. Louis Cathedral (1794); and other 18th- and 19th-century structures. Several world-famous restaurants, specializing in shrimp, oysters, and fish from nearby waters, uphold the New Orleans tradition of good living, and the annual Mardi Gras is perhaps the best-known festival in the United States.

Also adding to the color of the city are the many parks (including an aquarium), museums (including a voodoo museum, the National D-day Museum, and the New Orleans Museum of Art), and gardens; the Jazzland Theme Park is a few miles to the east. Chalmette, site of the 1815 battle of New Orleans, is to the east, and is part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (see National Parks and Monuments, table). The Louisiana Superdome, home of the National Football League's New Orleans Saints, is also the site of the annual Sugar Bowl football game. The National Basketball Association's Pelicans also play in the city. New Orleans is also an educational center, the seat of Dillard Univ., Loyola Univ., Tulane Univ., the Univ. of New Orleans, the Louisiana State Univ. Health Sciences Center, Southern Univ. at New Orleans, Our Lady of Holy Cross College, and several theological seminaries.


Early Years to the Twentieth Century

Soon after the sieur de Bienville had the city platted in 1718 it became an important port, and in 1722 it became the capital of the French colony. The transfer of Louisiana to Spain by the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762) was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris (1763). New Orleans—deeply involved in the struggle for control of the Mississippi—was returned to French hands only briefly before passing to the United States with the Louisiana Purchase (1803). From 1809 to 1810 some 10,000 refugees from the slave revolt in St. Dominigue (later Haiti) who had previously fled to Cuba emigrated to New Orleans, doubling the population. The tone of the city's life was dominated by Creole culture until late in the 19th cent., and the French influence is still seen today.

After Andrew Jackson's victory over the British at New Orleans (Jan. 8, 1815) had written a postscript to the War of 1812, the westward movement in the United States carried the queen city of the Mississippi to almost fabulous heights as a port and market for cotton and slaves. New Orleans then was stamped with its lasting reputation for glamour, extravagant living, elegance, and wickedness. Then as now African Americans were a large element in the population, and they contributed to the cosmopolitan flavor of the city. The quadroon balls—sumptuous affairs attended by rich white men and their quadroon mistresses—disappeared with the Civil War, but African folkways and stories of voodoo magic persisted into the 20th cent.

The golden era ended when in the Civil War the city fell (1862) to Admiral David G. Farragut and suffered under the occupation by Union troops led by General Benjamin F. Butler. New Orleans recovered from Reconstruction and passed through the end of the river-steamboat era to emerge as a modern city. Its past, however, is perhaps a greater factor than the warm damp climate in attracting visitors and artists and writers. The unusual life and history of the city have produced its own literature, including the works of George W. Cable, Lafcadio Hearn, Grace Elizabeth King, Charles Gayarré, and Alcée Fortier. Jazz had its origin in the late 19th cent. among the black musicians of New Orleans.

Modern New Orleans

The first attempts to integrate New Orleans public schools aroused controversy in 1960. Since then blacks have come to comprise the large majority of students and teachers in the school system, as many whites have moved to the suburbs. In 1969 Hurricane Camille swept through the region, resulting in many deaths and much property damage. Since the 1960s the population of the metropolitan area has risen at a rate slightly higher than that at which the population of the city has declined, reflecting the trend toward suburbanization that has left the inner city troubled by poverty.

Attempts have been made at urban revitalization; in the 1970s many new buildings were erected as the city benefited from high oil prices. In the 1980s, however, the economy suffered as oil prices fell and the state's energy industry floundered. In 1983 New Orleans hosted a world's fair, but the attention it attracted and its economic contribution fell far below expectations. Gambling was legalized in 1992, but the introduction of riverboat and casino gambling proved unsuccessful and failed to provide the anticipated impetus to the city's economy.

On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina brought extensive flooding to the city when several levees failed. Much of the city was evacuated before the storm but thousands remained, many of whom were stranded by the water for days; hundreds died. In the aftermath, many residents could not return because their homes had been destroyed and established new lives elsewhere, greatly reducing the city's population. A 2006 survey showed that the population was approximately 40% of what it was estimated to have been before the storm. In the aftermath of the flooding, an improved system of levees and flood walls, flood gates, and pumps was constructed at a cost of $14.5 billion.


See E. L. Tinker, Creole City (1953); T. K. Griffin, New Orleans (rev. ed. 1964); M. L. Christovich et al., comp., New Orleans Architecture (1971–72); L. V. Huber, New Orleans: A Pictorial History (1971); P. F. Lewis, New Orleans (1976); J. K. Nichols, New Orleans (1989); D. Brinkley, The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2006); R. Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans (2008); N. Sublette, The World That Made New Orleans (2008); L. N. Powell, The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans (2012).

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New Orleans

(pop culture)

Since it has been introduced as a home for vampires, New Orleans has emerged as the true American vampire city. While many different American cities, especially New York and Los Angeles, have provided locations for vampire stories, none has become so identified with the nocturnal creatures as has the Crescent City. The association is not from a history of vampire incidents in the city’s folklore. There is certainly a vampire figure, the fifollet in the folklore of the African Americans of Louisiana, and the loogaroo, a variation on the West African vampire found among the Haitian slaves who came into the city in the early nineteenth century, but only two vampire stories can actually be traced to the city. One of those involved two serial killers in the 1930s who drank blood from their victims before killing them. The city’s reputation for vampires has purely modern roots, and can be found in the writings of Anne Rice, especially Interview with a Vampire, the second most popular vampire book of all time, which sets much of the action in New Orleans. Throughout the 1990s, a number of other authors have also enjoyed success with New Orleans vampires.

New Orleans is a unique place on the American landscape, and an appropriate setting for vampires. It was the center of voodoo, a religion practiced in secret during the night by the slaves who built a different culture in order to survive away from their homeland. New Orleans also stands as a foreign enclave within a country dominated by English-speaking British influence. In the French Quarter, New Orleans is also a land separated from the present by its unique architecture and heritage. The recognition of the old European setting as providing an appropriately “gothic” setting was heralded in the Son of Dracula, set in rural Louisiana near New Orleans.

Interview with the Vampire tells the story of Louis, an eighteenth-century New Orleans vampire, raised on a plantation near the city, who is brought into the nightlife by the vampire Lestat. They try living on the plantation for a time, but the slaves soon figure out what is occurring in the mansion house and force the pair into the anonymity of city. By the 1790s, when Louis is made a vampire, New Orleans had spread far beyond the old French Quarter, and provided ample food for the thirsty pair. Its bawdy nightlife also provided cover for their nefarious activities. It is here that they find the little girl Claudia and make her a vampire.

Claudia and Louis left New Orleans in 1862 after trying to kill Lestat. However, after Claudia’s death in Paris later that year, he and his new companion, Armand, finally settled in New Orleans after living in New York for a number of years. While there Louis again met with Lestat before moving on, leaving Armand behind. In 1929, Lestat went underground in New Orleans where he would remain in a vampiric sleep for many decades. Armand remained in New Orleans through the twentieth century and is the one found by Daniel Molloy when he comes looking for Louis. Louis had given his now-famous interview to Molloy, who had published it under the pseudonym Anne Rice.

While Armand and Daniel were busy with their relationship, Lestat was awakened by the rock music of a band rehearsing not far from the cemetery in which he lay asleep. Awakened by the music, he made his way to the band’s room and soon began his new career as a rock star. The publication of his autobiography, The Vampire Lestat, brings Jesse, the employee of the occult studies organization, the Talamasca, to New Orleans where she finds the home where Louis and Claudia had lived and the several items that Claudia had hidden and left behind.

Once Lestat leaves New Orleans in 1985, the city is less essential to the “The Vampire Chronicles,” the action shifting to California, Miami, New York, and the world beyond. However, after Lestat’s visit to heaven and hell, he returns to New Orleans and resides in St. Elizabeth’s, the former orphanage on Napoleon Street (an actual building once owned by Rice).

Rice, of course, is not the only vampire fiction writer to place her novels in New Orleans. In 1982, George R. R. Martin brought Josiah Yorke to the Crescent City on his 1850s river boat, the Fevre Dream. There he found the vampire community for which he had been searching. Damon Julian had led a group of vampires from Portugal in the 1750s. Using the city as their headquarters, they moved along the river among the slaves whom they treated as their personal food supply. Yorke presented his blood substitute which would allow vampires to stop killing and integrate into human society. Julian rejected his plan and their conflict would provide the action for the rest of the novel.

Nancy Collins, author of the highly acclaimed series of novels featuring the vampire Sonia Blue and a resident of New Orleans, finally brought her character to New Orleans in the second volume of the series, In the Blood. Sonja had been made a vampire in a most brutal manner by a vampire named Morgan and had set out to find and kill him. Upon her return to the United States, she settled in New Orleans. Pangloss, the old vampire who had made Morgan, wanted to find Sonja. Palmer, the private detective Pangloss hired to track her, caught up with her in the French Quarter, where Pangloss happened to keep an apartment. While soaking up the atmosphere, they would come to know each other, and from there they would launch the next phase of Sonja’s search for Morgan.

The character was born in New Orleans, in a room over a bar in the French quarter, the result of the union of his mother Jessy, a teenager infatuated with vampires, and Zillah, a 100-year-old vampire who gave her more than she bargained for. From their one night stand in the mid-1970s, and Jessy’s subsequent death-giving birth, Nothing emerged as the central character in Poppy Z. Brite‘s Lost Souls (1992). The orphan Nothing was taken to live with a “normal” couple in Maryland, far from New Orleans, but his origin was stronger than the loving environment of his youth. As a teenager he ran away from home and began the pilgrimage which would lead him to his father and then to his birthplace where his history would suddenly catch up with him.

In the early 1990s, Carnifax is a vampire who has integrated himself into New Orleans society and become a viable candidate for governor. Only a werewolf, Desiree Cupio, the lead character in Daniel Presedo’s comic book series Dream Wolves, recognizes him for what he is. Many years before he had fallen in love with Desiree’s mother, sired a child, and also had killed the one he loved. When they finally meet, they are infatuated with each other, and only slowly recognize their prior connections. Their adventures lead them around the French Quarter until they converge on Desiree’s aunt’s house where the truth is revealed.

In 1993, Blade the Vampire Slayer squares off against his reappearing nemesis Deacon Frost in New Orleans, where with the assistance of Hannibal King and Brother Voodoo, he blocks Frost’s attempt to take over a local industry though the good guys were unable to finish off the evil vampire.

In 1994, the story of New Orleans vampires were recreated for followers of the role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. The story begins with Doran, a Frenchman turned into a vampire in 1471. He settled in what was to become New Orleans in 1705 and as the vampire community of the city grew, fought for his place in the moonlight, his main competitor over the centuries being Spanish vampire Simon de Cosa. He led the city’s Kindred until after World War II when he announced his grandiose plan for a new time in which vampires and mortals could live side by side. Some did not like his idea and in 1955 he was assassinated. Today the city is led by a new prince, Marcel.

New Orleans’s reputation as the vampire city was kept alive through the 1990s by numerous vampire fans who flocked to the city and joined in the various tours of the locations featured in the Anne Rice novels (and the movie Interview with a Vampire) or take the midnight tour exploring the French Quarter’s vampiric heritage. The most dedicated come at the end of October for the annual Halloween Coven Party sponsored by Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat Fan Club.

The Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club dissolved in 2000. In 2004, following the death of her husband, Rice announced that she was leaving New Orleans and put the last property she owned in the Garden District up for sale. She had by this time written the last of her vampire novels, Blood Canticle (2003) and moved on to other themes.

New Orleans was changed significantly by Hurricane Katrina that struck the city in August 2005. Much of the city was flooded, though the French Quarter remained above water and the Garden District was less affected than other parts of the city. As the city rebounded, the vampire aspect of life began to reappear, beginning with the nightly vampire tours that focused on the French Quarter and the Garden District. Tours to Oak Alley, the plantation outside the city which was used as a location in Interview with a Vampire have also returned. In 2008-09, the movie version of Darren Shan‘s Cirque du Freak, The Vampire’s Assistant, was shot in New Orleans, though the novel does not specify it as the story’s setting.

In 2006, some former members of the Rice Fan Club approached Rice about restarting the club, in part as an effort to assist the city to recover. The first of the new gatherings occurred in 2007, and in successive years have broadened their appeal. The 2009 event was announced as the “True Blood and Gold Ball.” Through and since the disaster of Katrina, New Orleans has remained a favorite location for fiction writers to set their novels. Just before Katrina struck, Andrew Fox had set his two novels, Fat White Vampire Blues (2003) and Bride of the Fat White Vampire (2004), in the city.

More recently, his work has been joined by the various titles of Shannon Drake/Heather Grahams such as Under the Blood Red Moon (1999) and Kiss of Darkness (2006); Lynn Viehl’s When Angels Burn (2005); Denise Wilkinson’s Isabella St. Clair: Vamp of New Orleans, the Vieux Carre (2007); Adrian Phoenix’s A Rush of Wings (2009), to mention a few. Pete Callahan’s self-published novel, Vampire in New Orleans carries the story line through the Katrina event. In her seventh vampire novel, All Together Dead, Charlaine Harris features a new character, Sophie-Anne Leclerq, the vampire queen of Louisiana, who resides in post-Katrina New Orleans. The L. A. Banks‘s novels, while basically operating out of Philadelphia, frequently mention New Orleans as places the characters have either come from or visited, while the more recent novels such as The Wicked (2007) and The Shadows (2008) reflect on Katrina.


Brite, Poppy Z. Lost Souls. New York: Asylum/Delacorte, 1992. 359 pp.
Callahan, Peter. Vampire in New Orleans. New Orleans: self published, 2007.
Collins, Nancy. Midnight Blue: The Sonja Blue Collection. Clarkston, GA: White Wolf Game Studio, 1995. 559 pp.
Fox, Andrew. Fat White Vampire Blues. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003. 334 pp.
———.Bride of the Fat White Vampire. New York: Ballantine Books, 2004. 429 pp. tp.
Golden, Christopher, and Gene Colan. Blade. New York: Marvel, 1993.
Graham, Heather (pseudonym of Heather Graham Pozzessere). Blood Red. Don Mills, ON: Mira Books, 2007. 347 pp.
Harris, Charlaine. All Together Dead. Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 7. 2007. 323 pp.
Marmel, Ari, and C. A. Suleiman. City of the Damned: New Orleans. Stone Mountain, GA: White Wolf Publishing, 2005. 144 pp.
Martin, George R. R., Fevre Dream. New York: Poseidon Press, 1982. 350 pp.
Nordan. Frances. New Orleans Vampires. New Orleans: California Concepts, 2001. 143 pp.
Presedo, Daniel. Dream Wolves. First series. No. 103. London Night Studios, 1993–94. Dream Wolves. Second series. No. 108. Baton Rouge, LA: Drameon Studios, 1994–95.
Ramsland, Katherine. The Vampire Companion: The Official Guide to Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993. 507 pp.
Rice, Anne. Interview with the Vampire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976. 372 pp.
———. The Vampire Lestat. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985. 481 pp.
———. Queen of the Damned. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. 448 pp.
———. Memnoch the Devil. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. 354 pp.
———. Pandora. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. 353 pp.
Richardson, Beverly. “Vampire City: A Visit to New Orleans.” The Borgo Post (Transylvanian Society of Dracula-Canadian Chapter) 3, 5 (June 1998): 2.
Roshell, Patricia Ann. New Orleans by Night. Stone Mountain, GA: White Wolf Game Studio, 1994. 125 pp.
Smith, Kalila Katherine. Journey Into Darkness … Ghosts & Vampires of New Orleans. New Orleans: DeSimeon, 1998.
Wilkinson, Denise M. Snellgrove. Isabella St. Clair: Vamp of New Orleans, the Vieux Carre. Baltimore, MD: PublishAmerica, 2007. 220 pp.
The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

New Orleans


a city in the southern USA, in Louisiana. Population, 592,000 (1970); with the suburbs, more than 1 million. Largest port in the southern USA, in the delta of the Mississippi River, 175 km from where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

The city’s freight turnover in 1970 of 57 million tons consisted primarily of exported petroleum, cotton, and sulfur and imported tropical products (bananas and raw sugar) and bauxite. New Orleans is a railroad and highway junction. In 1970 more than 10 percent of the city’s work force was employed in transportation, 25 percent in commerce, and 14 percent in industry. The most developed industries are petroleum refining and chemicals (synthetic rubber and basic chemical products), alumina and aluminum, and food (including sugar refining and the processing of tropical agricultural products from Latin America). Shipbuilding and ship repair are also important. There are aerospace and armament industries in New Orleans. The city has five universities.

New Orleans was founded by the French in 1718 on the site of an Indian settlement. As a result of the Seven Years’ War of 1756–63, it passed to Spain, and in 1800 it was again captured by France. In 1803 it was purchased by the USA as part of the vast territory of Louisiana. In the first half of the 19th century New Orleans became a large port in the slaveholding South. During the Civil War it was the object of a bitter struggle between the armies of the South and North. In 1862 it was occupied by Northern troops.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

New Orléans

end of War of 1812; fought after treaty had been signed (1815). [Am. Hist.: Worth, 22]
See: Battle
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

New Orleans

a port in SE Louisiana, on the Mississippi River about 172 km (107 miles) from the sea: the largest city in the state and the second most important port in the US; founded by the French in 1718; belonged to Spain (1763--1803). It is largely below sea level, built around the Vieux Carr? (French quarter); famous for its annual Mardi Gras festival and for its part in the history of jazz; a major commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. Pop.: 469 032 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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It will be exhibited in New Orleans as part of events celebrating the city's 300th anniversary.

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