The French Quarter, Mardi Gras, jazz, beignets…Really, what’s not to love about New Orleans? Here are 10 facts about New Orleans, one of America’s most eclectic cities.

  • New Orleans is famously known as the home of voodoo. Marie Laveau, an oracle who performed numerous exorcisms and voodoo rituals in the 1800s, is one of the most well-known practitioners.
  • According to the National Register, New Orleans has the highest number of historic districts in the United States with 20 districts earning the distinction.
  • The first documented opera in the United States was performed in New Orleans on May 22, 1796 while it was still under Spanish Rule.
  • Because of the high water table, tombs are located above ground in New Orleans. This is, in part, why New Orleans is considered one of the most haunted cities in America.
  • Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, founder of New Orleans, chose the city’s location in a bend of the Mississippi River because it created a natural levee against hurricanes and the flood-prone river.
  • Hungry? While New Orleans is famous for their beignets, alligator and turtle are readily available in a variety of ways throughout the restaurants of the city. Both turtle and alligator soups are said to be local favorites!
  • New Orleans and Mardi Gras are synonymous, but the first Mardi Gras in the United States actually took place in Mobile, Alabama in 1703. Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans since the 1730’s, but the first parade of floats didn’t occur until February 24, 1857.
  • A New Orleans barber, Buddy Bolden, is credited with inventing jazz music in 1891.
  • Your compass won’t serve you well in New Orleans. Instead of “north, east, south, and west,” locals go “Uptown, Downtown, Riverside, or Lakeside.”
  • When asked “Where y’at?” in New Orleans, you’re not being asked about your location. They’re asking about your state of being.

Want to hear New Orleans jazz music for yourself – or even perform at one of its venues? Learn more about our New Orleans Heritage Festival and Allstate Sugar Bowl Cheer and Dance and Marching Band programs!