Page 15 - Welcome 2022
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People of African descent—enslaved and free—have been in New Orleans since its earliest days. Between the years 1718 and 1722, boatloads of Africans
from the Senegambia region of Western Africa arrived at the rare piece of high ground on the Mississippi near the Gulf of Mexico. Along with outcasts from French society, their common, unenviable task was to carve a French outpost from the inhospitable environment of the Louisiana swamps. Since that time, people of African descent have made a tremendous impact on the construction, survival, defense, and culture of the city that was called La Ville de la Nouvelle Orleans.
Because the city’s neighborhood layouts have not substantially changed since their inception, New Orleans is a place where visitors can walk many of the same streets that New Orleanians walked nearly 300 years ago, even going to some of the very places where historical events occurred and visiting addresses of some of the city’s most historic individuals and institutions.
As you explore New Orleans, here are some points of interest:
French Quarter
The French Quarter is the site of the original City of New Orleans. It is also called Vieux Carre, pronounced Voo-ca-ray, which means Old Square. Bounded by the river, Esplanade Avenue, North Rampart Street and Canal Street, this area is New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood. Seventy-nine percent of the structures in the French Quarter are of major architectural, national, or historic
importance. The Louisiana State Museum’s in the French Quarter offer insight into New Orleans earliest days.
Congo Square
Louis Armstrong Park
It was here that enslaved Africans gathered in antebellum times to recapture their African homeland rituals with dance, drum, and song. As early as 1786, a bishop noted the custom “of the Negroes, who, at the Vespers hour, assembled in a green expanse called Place Congo to dance the bamboula.” Throughout most of its pre-Civil War history, Congo Square offered Black New Orleans the opportunity to keep alive their African cultural traditions.
During and after the Civil War, Congo Square reflected the evolution of Black America.
by Keith Medley 15

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