1849: An American Commercial City.
Following the Louisiana Purchase, the first census to include New Orleans (1810) documented its place as the fifth largest city in the United States and largest settlement west of the Appalachians. Andrew Jackson made his national reputation defending the city in the Battle of New Orleans -- two weeks after the treaty that ended the War of 1812 was signed. Following the battle, New Orleans with its natural outlet for commercial steamboats had an economic boom. New immigrants -- not all welcome -- arrived in large numbers, and the city had to expand beyond the French Quarter.
1. 1836, three municipalities.
The Americans, frustrated by the conservative Creole elite's lack of attention to the development of the city, proposed a new system of local government. In 1836, the city divided into three municipalities: the French Quarter, the Americans in Faubourg St. Mary to the west, and the new immigrants in Faubourg Marigny to the east. The Americans, commercializing their waterfront, quickly prospered while the other municipalities went into debt. They reunited in 1852.
2. Garden District.
The Spanish built courtyards behind their homes, but the new American residents of New Orleans set their Greek Revival residences back from the street looking across front yard "gardens." The Garden District is second only to the French Quarter as a tourist destination in New Orleans.
3. New Basin Canal.
As Americans settled upriver -- or "uptown" -- from the French Quarter, a need arose for another waterway to the lake. Irish immigrants built the New Basin Canal by 1838. The route remains important; railway lines and Interstate 10 were built along the canal.
5. Congo Square.
The slaves of New Orleans who had Sunday off would gather in Congo Square to sing, dance, and reconnect a bit with their African roots. Slavery became illegal, but African American continued to gather here until around 1885.
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