New Orleans

New Orleans, the capital of the French territory in America, represents a commitment towards order. This commitment was not only necessitated by the unique crescent shape of the city, as defined by the meandering Mississippi River, but also as an example of French pride for the territory as a whole. Following in the legacy of the French bastides, New Orleans features a grid pattern that is able to adjust to contours in the shape of the Mississippi River, while avoiding sprawl due to the natural barriers of the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain. As the capital and economic hub city of the French territory, New Orleans was supposed to serve as a model for the rest of the French territory, featuring a consistent logic of French urban planning, with the inclusion of public squares, wide boulevards, and French architecture. The result of France’s commitment to order is that New Orleans has retained its unique French/Creole/Cajun culture, despite the city being under Spaniard control from 1762-1800, and under American control since the Louisiana Purchase. Even today, the built environment of New Orleans resembles Paris more so than any other American city, and helps retain an element of French culture, whereas the European influence in Eastern cities (Lower Manhattan and Boston) appears to have been rewritten to conform with American culture (e.g. the Financial District/NYSE and the sites of the Boston Revolution).

Sources:
Busquets, Joan, Dingliang Yang, and Michael Keller. Urban Grids: Handbook for Regular City Design. San Francisco, CA: ORO Editions, 2019.
“The French in New Orleans.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, May 25, 2017. https://www.history.com/topics/immigration/the-french-in-new-orleans.

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