Why New Orleans is important to America
Founded in 1718, New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in America, boasting a 300-year history unlike any other city in the world. Throughout its storied history, New Orleans has played a prominent role in many of our country’s most historic moments.
The Louisiana Purchase, a transaction which doubled the size of the fledgling United States in 1803, was made for the primary purpose of securing the city of New Orleans and its port. The transfer was executed between France and the United States on December 3, 1803 in the Cabildo, located on Jackson Square, one of America’s most historic buildings. Today, New Orleans has more than 35,000 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, 15,000 more buildings than its closest competitor, Washington, D.C.
Just a decade after the Louisiana Purchase, a landmark military victory in American history, the Battle of New Orleans was fought in New Orleans. Outnumbered by nearly 10,000 British troops, General Andrew Jackson led a band of American fighters to secure an American victory.
While the American’s victory over the British was a significant moment in American history, jazz music is widely considered as America’s greatest contribution to the art of music. The early roots of jazz can be traced back to the late 1800’s in New Orleans. Jazz music would quickly catch on with locals and swiftly became an American institution. Not only is New Orleans the birthplace of jazz, but the city also hosted the nation’s first documented opera performance, and is home to one of the oldest opera companies in America. New Orleans’ rich musical culture continues today with the New Orleans based Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, which is the country’s only musician-owned symphony.
In the 1940’s, New Orleans helped shape World War II, and played an essential role in securing the Allied victory. Home to Andrew Higgins and Higgins Industries, over 12,500 LCVP’s – more commonly known as “Higgins Boats” – were constructed in New Orleans. Higgins boats were used in every major American amphibious operation in both Europe and the Pacific. The Higgins Boats were so instrumental in securing an Allied victory, that General Eisenhower credited Higgins as “the man who won the war.”
Built on decades of manufacturing success, since 1973, every external fuel tank sent to space was built at the New Orleans Michoud Assembly Facility. Today, workers at the facility are building rockets to send man to Mars. The saying holds true that, “if you want to go to space you must first go through New Orleans East.”
New Orleans is transforming itself as hub for technology and innovation, bringing in new professional jobs, diversifying our economy, and validating New Orleans as a world class business destination. The recent announcement of the DXC Digital Transformation Center is the capstone of a 12-year effort to diversify our region’s economy.
“New Orleans is one of America’s oldest and most unique cities, making major contributions to our nation and world throughout our 300-year history,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “From the Battle of New Orleans over 200 years ago to building rockets to send astronauts to Mars today, our great city continues to make history. As we enter into our 300th year, I know our best days are ahead of us. I look forward to the impact our city and her people will have over the next 300 years on the United States of America.”
Centuries of innovation have led to New Orleans becoming a major player on the national and international stage. Today, New Orleans is at the forefront both culturally and economically including:
Transportation and Logistics
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport serviced over 5.5 million enplanements in 2016, a 78 percent increase since 2006 and is the second fastest growing airport in the nation
- New Orleans is the 8th largest metro in the country in terms of exports
- The Port of New Orleans is the 4th largest port in the country in terms of total trade by tonnage
- The Port of New Orleans is the #1 importer of natural rubber, #3 importer of steel, and #5 importer of plywood in the U.S.
- The Port of New Orleans supports 380,000 jobs across the nation and generates $37 billion in national economic impact
- New Orleans is home to six Class-I railroads
- The St. Charles Streetcar line is one of the oldest continuously operating streetcar systems in the country.
- Louisiana is the #2 producer of natural gas in the U.S.
- Louisiana is the #2 producer of crude oil in the U.S.
- 20 percent of the nation’s coal and petrochemicals travel on the lower Mississippi River
- Louisiana is home to 7 percent of the nation’s natural gas gross withdrawals and production
- Louisiana is home to 8 percent of the nation’s underground natural gas in storage
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
- Home to 10 universities and colleges offering a bachelor’s degree or above
- New Orleans is one of top cities in the country to start a business
- New Orleans is #1 in the U.S. for tech growth
- New Orleans is home to Collision, America’s fastest growing tech conference
- The Port of New Orleans is the #2 importer of coffee in the country, and is home to the largest coffee silo in the U.S.
- 60 percent of the nation’s grain is shipped via the Lower Mississippi River
- The Port of New Orleans is the #1 exporter of frozen poultry in the U.S.
Tourism and Culture
- In 2016, New Orleans hosted 10.45 million visitors who spent $7.41 billion
- New Orleans has hosted ten NFL Super Bowls and three NBA All-Star games
- St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest operating cathedral in the U.S.
- New Orleans is home to over 300 festivals a year
- There are 40+ museums in New Orleans, including the federally designated National WWII Museum.
- #1 city for healthcare job growth in the U.S.
- $1.1 billion University Medical Center completed in 2016
- Home to two medical schools (Tulane and Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans)
- Tulane Medical School is the 15th oldest medical school in the country.
National Defense and Security
- New Orleans is home to the nation’s Marine Reserves headquarters and the Naval Air Station Join Reserve Base
- The 8th Coast Guard District calls New Orleans home and is responsible for U.S. Coast Guard operations spanning 26 states, including the Gulf of Mexico coastline from Florida to Mexico
About the 2018 NOLA Foundation
Created by Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu, the 2018 NOLA Foundation is a 501c3 organization that supports the New Orleans Tricentennial. The celebration of the 300th anniversary will mark where New Orleans has been, as well as where the city is going. The Tricentennial will focus on the city’s authenticity and diversity of its people and its culture and tell the story of 300 years of resiliency, economic growth, and prosperity.