New Orleans (pronounced [nu ˈorlɪnz] or [nu ˈorliənz] in American English; French: La Nouvelle-Orléans, pronounced /la nuvɛl ɔʀleɑ̃/ in Standard French) is a major United States port city and the largest city in Louisiana.
New Orleans is located in Southeastern Louisiana along the Mississippi River. The city is bordered by Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Gulf of Mexico to the east and is coextensive with Orleans Parish. It is named after Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, Regent of France, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. New Orleans is known for its multicultural heritage as well as its music and cuisine and is considered the birthplace of jazz.
Its status as a world-famous tourist destination is due in part to its architecture, music, cuisine, its annual Mardi Gras, and other celebrations and festivals. The city is often referred to as "The most unique city in America."
The Greater New Orleans population was approximately 1.4 million people prior to the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (the metro area has rebounded to 1.2 million since, according to the Census Bureau). The Greater New Orleans area is still Louisiana's largest urban center. The population of the city itself was 484,674 according to the 2000 U.S. Census. A population analysis released in August 2007 estimated the population to be 273,000, 60% of the pre-Katrina population and an increase of about 50,000 since July 2006. For more information, see the section on demographics below.
The city's several nicknames are illustrative:
In the early 20th century, New Orleans was a progressive major city whose most portentous development was a drainage plan devised by engineer and inventor A. Baldwin Wood. Urban development until then was largely limited to higher ground along natural river levees and bayous. Wood's pump system allowed the city to expand into low-lying areas. Over the 20th century, rapid subsidence, both natural and human-induced, left these newly-populated areas several feet below sea level.
New Orleans was vulnerable to flooding even before the age of negative elevation. In the late 20th century, however, scientists and New Orleans residents gradually became aware of the city's increased vulnerability. Hurricane Betsy in 1965 had killed dozens of residents even though the majority of the city remained dry. The rain-induced 1995 flood demonstrated the weakness of the pumping system; however, since that time measures have been taken to repair New Orleans's hurricane defenses and restore pumping capacity.
By the time Hurricane Katrina approached the city at the end of August 2005, most residents had evacuated. Although the Hurricane's eye passed east of the city, the city's federal flood protection system failed resulting in the worst civil engineering disaster in American history. Floodwalls, called "levees", constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed below design specifications and 80% of the city flooded. Tens of thousands of remaining residents were rescued by boat, helicopter or otherwise made their way to shelters of last resort at the Louisiana Superdome or the Morial Convention Center. Over 1,500 people died in Greater New Orleans.
The city was declared off-limits to residents while clean-up efforts began. The approach of Hurricane Rita caused repopulation efforts to be postponed, and the Lower Ninth Ward was reflooded by Rita's storm surge. By October 1, 2005, parts of the city accounting for about one-third of the population of New Orleans had been reopened.
An estimate by the Census Bureau in July 2006 estimated the population of New Orleans to be 223,000; a subsequent study estimated that 32,000 additional residents had moved to the city as of March 2007, bringing the estimated population to 255,000, approximately 56% of the pre-Katrina population level. Another estimate, based on data on utility usage from July 2007, estimated the population to be approximately 274,000, or 60% of the pre-Katrina population; this is somewhat less than an estimate from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center in June 2007, which indicated that approximately two-thirds of the pre-Katrina population had returned to the city, based on mail delivery records.
Population demographers, the mayor's office, and others believe, after discussions with still-displaced residents, that residents will gradually return to the region throughout the next couple of years.. Efforts continue to rebuild infrastructure, pick up hurricane-related debris, and restore a level of normality to the residents of New Orleans. Most of the residents that are still displaced continue to wait for state and federal assistance in the form of Kathleen Blanco's Louisiana Recovery Authority program, Small Business Administration loans and other forms of financial assistance to return to their home regions.
Several major tourist events as well as other forms of revenue for the city of New Orleans have returned. The National Association of Realtors held its annual convention in New Orleans, as planned before Hurricane Katrina. Held in November 2006 with over 25,000 attendees, this was the first city-wide convention in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. The HIMSS healthcare information technology convention and the American College of Cardiology convention, both held in the spring of 2007, also each had more than 24,000 attendees . The Bayou Classic, the traditional football game between Southern University and Grambling State University, returned in November 2006 after being displaced to Houston, Texas for its November 2005 game. The Essence Music Festival returned to the Crescent City for its July 2007 date after being displaced to Houston in July 2006. Other major events such as Mardi Gras and the Jazz and Heritage Festival were never displaced and have continued as planned. The National Football League made a commitment to the city with the return of the New Orleans Saints, following speculation of a move to San Antonio, Texas, or Los Angeles, California after Hurricane Katrina, and there is the possibility of a 2012 or 2013 Super Bowl. The National Basketball Association has made a commitment with the return of the New Orleans Hornets, which played part time in the 2006-2007 season (one game per month) and will play full time for the 2007-2008 season. New Orleans has been granted the 2008 NBA All Star Game, which usually generates millions of dollars in revenue for its host city. Tulane University hosted the first and second rounds of the 2007 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship. In mid-March 2007, news spread about private investors trying to bring a Major League Soccer team to New Orleans, but whether or not New Orleans can support another professional team is under speculation. Several national travel guides have once again listed New Orleans as one of the top five places to visit in the country. Many New Orleans phone book companies have stated the need to issue new phone books just seven months after the release of their previous ones due to the return of many residents and businesses.
The Central Business District of New Orleans is located immediately north and west of the Mississippi River, and was historically called the "American Quarter or American Sector." Most streets in this area fan out from a central point in the city. Major streets of the area include Canal Street, Poydras Street, Tulane Avenue and Loyola Avenue. Canal Street functions as the street which divides the "downtown" area from the "uptown" area. Every street crossing Canal Street between the Mississippi River and Rampart Street, which is the northern edge of the French Quarter, has a different name for the "Uptown" and "Downtown" portions. For example St. Charles Ave., known for it's world-famous street car line, is called Royal Street once you cross Canal Street. Elsewhere, in the city, Canal Street services as the dividing point between the "South" and "North" portions of various streets (e.g., South Broad becomes North Broad once you cross Canal Street into downtown). In the local parlance "downtown" means "downriver from Canal Street," while "uptown" means "upriver from Canal Street." Downtown neighborhoods include the The Vieux Carré or French Quarter , Treme, the 7th Ward, Faubourg-Marigny, Bywater (the Upper Ninth Ward), and the Lower Ninth Ward. Uptown neighborhoods include the Warehouse District, Garden District, the Irish Channel, the University District, Carrollton, Gert Town, Fontainebleau, and Broadmoor.
Other major districts within the city include Bayou St. John, Mid-City, Gentilly, Lakeview, Lakefront, New Orleans East, and Algiers.
The state of Louisiana is divided into parishes, rather than counties like most other U.S. states. Parishes located adjacent to the city include St. Tammany Parish to the north, St. Bernard Parish to the south and east, Plaquemines Parish to the south and southeast, and Jefferson Parish to the south and west.
Even though the Census Bureau is aware of the effects of Hurricane Katrina, the 2000 U.S. Census count for New Orleans of 484,674 is the last official number on record for New Orleans. The Census Bureau estimated that 223,000 people were living in New Orleans in July 2006. The Census Bureau's numbers are in line with other population demographer numbers and mayor Ray Nagin stands firmly behind the Census Bureau's numbers. A population study from July 2006 to March 2007 found that the city gained 32,000 people during that seven month time frame, bringing its population to 255,000, or 56% of its pre-Katrina population. 
Janet Murguia, president and chief executive officer of the National Council of La Raza, stated that there could be up to 120,000 Hispanic workers in New Orleans which, according to the Census Bureau's population count would push the city's current population to more than 370,000. A more precise population number will not be known until the Census Bureau's official population count in 2010. In June 2007, the hispanic population rose from 15,000 pre-Katrina to over 50,000 post-Katrina 
By 2010, New Orleans officials expect the city's population to be anywhere in the mid- to upper-300,000 range or even low- to mid-400,000 range (from both new and returning residents), as more housing is into the market. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.) has stated that some public housing developments, which were originally going to be torn down, are going to be re-opened temporarily; the public housing developments will be redeveloped in phases. On March 21, 2007, the House of Representatives passed a bill blocking any demolition of housing developments until H.U.D. shows solid plans for redevelopment, informing H.U.D. that they must contact all former developments on August 1, 2007 and that the buildings must be livable by October 2007. The House's measure must be approved by the United States Senate. Developers who take advantage of federal tax credits to build other low income and affordable housing should help residents to return to the region. Also, as residents receive federal grant money, even more people should return to the region.
|Historical Population Figures|
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 484,674 people, 188,251 households, and 112,950 families residing in the city. The most recent (2005, taken two months before Katrina) population estimate for the city is 454,865. The population density was 1,036.4/km² (2,684.3/mi²). There were 215,091 housing units at an average density of 459.9/km² (1,191.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 67.25% African American, 28.05% White, 0.20% Native American, 2.26% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. 3.06% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
The population of Greater New Orleans stood at 1,337,726 in 2000, making it the 35th largest metropolitan area in the United States. These population statistics are based on legal residents of the city. Due to the enormous annual tourist flow, the number of people inside the city at a given time, such as Mardi Gras season, tends to exceed these numbers sometimes by the hundreds of thousands.
There were 188,251 households, out of which 29.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.8% were married couples living together, 24.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 40% were non-families, 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.23.
The age distribution of the city's population is 26.7% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 88.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $27,133, and the median income for a family was $32,338. Males had a median income of $30,862 versus $23,768 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,258. 27.9% of the population and 23.7% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 40.3% of those under the age of 18 and 19.3% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
New Orleans is the home to one of the largest and busiest ports in the world, and accounts for a major portion of the nation's refinery and production of petroleum, has a top 50 research university (in Tulane University) as well as a half a dozen other institutions of higher education, and is renowned for its cultural tourism.
The city is in the top twenty of the most visited cities in the United States, and tourism is a major staple in the area's economy. 10.1 million visitors came to New Orleans in 2004, and the city was on pace to break that level of visitation in 2005. Annually, tourism in New Orleans is a $5.5 billion industry and accounts for 40 percent of New Orleans' tax revenues. Tourism employed 85,000 people, making it New Orleans' top industry. The city's colorful Carnival celebrations leading up to Mardi Gras during the pre-Lenten season draw particularly large crowds. Other major tourist events and attractions in the city include the Sugar Bowl, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (popularly known by locals as "Jazz Fest"), the Voodoo Music Experience, Southern Decadence, and the Essence Music Festival, as well as sporting events like Super Bowls and NCAA final fours.
New Orleans is also an industrial and distribution center and the busiest port system in the world by gross tonnage. The Port of New Orleans is the 5th largest port in the United States based on volume of cargo handled, second-largest in the state after the Port of South Louisiana, and 12th largest in the U.S. based on value of cargo. The Port of South Louisiana, also based in the New Orleans area, is the world's busiest in terms of bulk tonnage, and, when combined with the Port of N.O., it forms the 4th largest port system in volume handled.
Like Houston, Texas, New Orleans is located in proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, and the many oil rigs lie just offshore. Louisiana ranks fifth in oil production and eighth in reserves in the United States. It is also home to two of the four Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) storage facilities: West Hackberry in Cameron Parish and Bayou Choctaw in Iberville Parish. Other infrastructure includes 17 petroleum refineries with a combined crude oil distillation capacity of nearly 2.8 million barrels per day, the second highest in the nation after Texas. Louisiana has numerous ports including the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), which is capable of receiving ultra large oil tankers. Natural gas and electricity dominate the home heating market with similar market shares totaling about 47 percent each. With all of the product to distribute, Louisiana is home to many major pipelines supplying the nation: Crude Oil - Chevron, BP, Texaco, Shell, Exxon, Scurloch-Permian, Mid-Valley, Calumet, Conoco, Koch, Unocal, Dept. of Energy, Locap. Product - TEPPCO, Colonial, Chevron, Shell, Plantation, Explorer, Texaco, Collins, BP. Liquefied Petroleum Gas - Dixie, TEPPCO, Black Lake, Koch, Chevron, Dynegy, Kinder, Dow, Bridgeline, FMP, Tejas, Texaco, UTP.  There are a few energy companies that have their regional headquarters in the city, including Chevron and Shell Oil Company. The city is the home and worldwide headquarters of a single Fortune 500 company: Entergy Corporation, an energy and infrastructure providing company. Freeport-McMoRan, the city's other Fortune 500 company recently merged its copper and gold exploration unit with an Arizona company and relocated that division to Phoenix, Arizona.
The federal government has a significant presence in the area. The NASA Michoud Assembly Facility is located in the eastern portion of Orleans Parish (New Orleans East) and is operated by Lockheed-Martin. It is a large manufacturing facility where external fuel tanks for space shuttles are produced, and it also houses the National Finance Center operated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In an effort to diversify its economy, tax incentives for movie production companies began to be offered in 2002. This has led to a substantial increase in the number of films shot in the New Orleans area and lead to the nickname of "Hollywood South". Many big-budget and critically acclaimed feature films have been made in New Orleans and around the New Orleans Metropolitan area over the last few years, such as Ray, Runaway Jury, The Pelican Brief, The Skeleton Key, Glory Road, All the King's Men, Déjà Vu, Last Holiday, Waiting..., Failure to Launch, Stay Alive, 1995's Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and countless other full-length films and documentaries. Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have made New Orleans their home with the purchase of a home in the French Quarter, and a new movie studio complex is to be built in the Treme neighborhood. "K-Ville", a cop drama series set in post-Katrina New Orleans, has been picked up for the Fox Network's 2007-08 prime-time schedule, according to sources in Hollywood, a move that could pump millions of dollars of location production money into the local economy. The show stars Anthony Anderson ("The Shield," "The Departed") and Cole Hauser ("The Cave," "Paparazzi").
City leaders in New Orleans want a tax incentive similar to the one for movie productions, for Broadway plays. New Orleans is home to many historical theaters such as the Saenger Theater and believe a tax incentive would bring the nation's biggest Broadway plays and musicals to the city and would lead to Louisiana, primarily New Orleans, becoming known as "Broadway South". The tax incentive bill would be included during the 2007 Louisiana Legislative Session and would have to be approved.
Other companies with a significant presence or base in New Orleans include the worldwide headquarters of the Entergy and its subsidiaries, Freeport-McMoRan, AT&T, IBM, Navtech, Harrah's (downtown casino), Popeye's Fried Chicken, Zatarain's, Whitney Bank (corp. HQ), Capital One (banking HQ), Southern Comfort, Tidewater (Corp. HQ), McMoran Exploration, and Energy Partners (corp.HQ).
A large number of institutions of higher education exist within the city, including Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans which are the major private research universities. University of New Orleans is a large public research university in the city. Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans, Xavier University of Louisiana are among some of the leading historically black colleges and universities in the U.S. (with Xavier being the only predominantly black Catholic university in the U.S.) Louisiana State University Medical School is the state's flagship university medical school which also conducts research. Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Notre Dame Seminary, and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary are several smaller religious affiliated universities. Other notable schools include Delgado Community College, Culinary Institute of New Orleans, Herzing College and Commonwealth University.
New Orleans is one of the most visited cities in America and has many major attractions, from the world-renowned Bourbon Street and the French Quarter's notorious nightlife, St. Charles Avenue (home of Tulane and Loyola Universities), and many stately 19th century mansions. Magazine Street, with its many historic antique shops, is also an area visited by many tourists. Also on St. Charles Avenue is the historic Pontchartrain Hotel.
Favorite tourist scenes in New Orleans include the French Quarter (known locally as "the Quarter" or Vieux Carré), which dates from the French and Spanish eras and is bounded by the Mississippi River & Rampart Street and Canal Street & Esplanade Ave. The French Quarter contains many popular hotels, bars, and nightclubs, most notably around Bourbon Street. Other notable tourist attractions in the Quarter include Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the French Market (including Café du Monde, famous for café au lait and beignets), and jazz at Preservation Hall.
Also located in the French Quarter is the old New Orleans Mint, formerly a branch of the United States Mint, which now operates as a museum. Near the Quarter in the neighboring Warehouse District sits the National World War II Museum, opened on June 6, 2000, as the National D-Day Museum, dedicated to providing information and materials related to the allied invasion of Normandy, France. Also nearby is Confederate Memorial Hall, containing the second largest collection of Confederate memorabilia in the world in the oldest continually operating museum in Louisiana.
Art museums in the city include the Contemporary Arts Center, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Audubon Park, the Audubon Zoo, and the Aquarium of the Americas are also located in the city. New Orleans is also noted for its many beautiful cemeteries. Some notable cemeteries in the city include Saint Louis Cemetery and Metairie Cemetery.
Significant gardens include Longue Vue House and Gardens and the New Orleans Botanical Garden. Gardens are also found in places like City Park and Audubon Park. City Park still has one of the largest (if not the largest) stands of oak trees in the world.