New Orleans Skyline

New Orleans Skyline
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New Orleans Skyline

by Michael O'Brien

The city of New Orleans has been a gateway to the American South with a history dating back to the early 1700s. Despite the events of the last several years, New Orleans remains an important port city and a home to generations of people who are proud to call New Orleans home. The skyline of New Orleans has been recorded in pictures by both amateur photographers and noted professionals like Christopher Gjevres.

The city of New Orleans is home to many famous buildings and neighborhoods that combine to create one of the most unique and exciting cities in the world. From Bourbon Street and the historic French Quarter to the trolleys of Canal Street, the city of New Orleans provides a backdrop for a wide variety of scenic framed pictures and panoramas.

One of the earliest panoramic images of the New Orleans was drawn in the 1860s showing the skyline of the city and a fleet of ships. As the process of photography evolved, panoramic images of many of the world's great cities began to appear around the turn of the Twentieth Century. The city of New Orleans is depicted in several of these early panoramas, with one such photographic panorama produced in 1919. The panorama clearly shows early high rise buildings and pans the city with the Mississippi River clearly reflected in the background.

Canal Street has been one of the city's main thoroughfares highlighted by the famous trolley trains that still run along this famous street. The trolleys were originally drawn by horses and can be seen in early panoramic photographs, etchings and drawings. By the 1920s, Canal Street was home to several high rise buildings with some of these structures reaching over fifteen stories.

Bourbon Street pictures show both the quaint and rowdy nature of the historic French Quarter. As the name implies, the French Quarter with Bourbon Street as its heart, show the influence of French architecture and culture.

A Brief History of New Orleans

Founded by the French, ruled by the Spanish and eventually becoming part of a newly formed United States, the city of New Orleans lies on the delta of the Mississippi River. The port of New Orleans is the point of entry for a wide variety of commodities from cotton, sugar and coffee to oil and grain. Every year, millions of tons of freight enter and leave the port.

Principally due to the influences of the French, Spanish, British and the Americans, the city of New Orleans is blessed with a unique diversity of cultures, architecture, traditions and music. From the quiet serenity of the French Quarter to its brawling and bustling shipping ports, the city of New Orleans is unlike any city in the world.

The French established a settlement at the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1718. The first settlement was built on a sharp bend in the river that earned the New Orleans the nickname The Crescent City. The settlement was at the tip of what was once French Louisiana and spanned from the mouth of the river north and west. Reaching as far north as Canada and west to what is now Wyoming, French Louisiana covered over 800 thousand square miles.

Named after the Duke of Orleans, New Orleans was laid out by Jean Baptiste La Moyne. In 1762, the city was ceded to Spain but when the Spanish governor arrived four years later he was expelled by the city's residents. In 1800, and by the Treaty of Ildefonso, the city and surrounding territory was ceded to France.

In 1803, the American President Thomas Jefferson negotiated the purchase of this territory from France, incorporating this vast expanse of land into the United States. It is thought that Jefferson so valued access to the port of New Orleans that the purchase was in the best interest of expanding American trade opportunities. The rest, as they say, is history, with 15 states eventually being carved out of this large swath of land.

The War of 1812 between the America and Briton saw its last and decisive battle fought in New Orleans. The Battle of New Orleans was fought in January 1815 between an American force under General Andrew Jackson and a British force under Sir Edward Pakenham. The battle was fought after the signing of a peace treaty but neither commander had been notified of this event. The overwhelming victory made General Jackson the idol of the people and was one important cause of his election the U.S. presidency.

The Modern New Orleans Skyline

It would until the latter half of the Twentieth Century before New Orleans would se the construction of tall skyscrapers. The city's proximity to the river bed made the soil much too soft to support the weight of a true skyscraper. Newer design and construction methods have allowed for the erection of taller buildings in downtown New Orleans. The skyline makes for a striking and beautiful panoramic image.

The tallest building on the New Orleans skyline is One Shell Square. In fact, One Shell Square is the tallest building in the American Southeast. At fifty one stories, One Shell Square towers almost 700 feet above Poydras Street and is one several high rise structures built during the late 1900s. The Place St. Charles Plaza comes in a close second rising 645 feet above the commercial buildings built along Canal Street during the 1800s. There are numerous bridges crossing the Mississippi River the canals and surround the New Orleans which add to the spectacular picture history of the city.

Another very prominent feature of the modern New Orleans skyline is the New Orleans Superdome. Home to the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League, the Superdome was used as a shelter of last resort during Hurricane Katrina. The dome of the stadium was severely damaged by the storm and many people thought the Superdome would never reopen. Fortunately, funding was found to repair the stadium and it remains part of the magnificent skyline of this famous city.