After my trip to build houses in a hurricane-ravaged New Orleans neighborhood, I’m slightly tanner, much better with a hammer, and more knowledgeable about the Crescent City’s history and culture.
Our volunteer group worked on the Musicians’ Village
, a Habitat for Humanity project in the Upper Ninth Ward that celebrates New Orleans’ musical heritage.
Amidst all the construction, I did get to see a few historical places, including: Preservation Hall
has been a popular place to hear old-school New Orleans Jazz since 1961. Only a hundred people at a time can pack inside. I sat on the floor about a foot from the band and had to duck the trombone a couple of times.
The Louisiana State Museum
has history exhibits in the Cabildo (see an inside view below; it was the seat of government under Spanish rule), where the Louisiana Purchase agreement was signed in 1803. A genealogical tidbit I picked up there: Don't overlook New Orleans as your immigrant ancestors' arrival port. Many Europeans who wanted to settle along or west of the Mississippi River heard they’d have an easier time reaching their destinations from New Orleans.
New Orleans has strong Catholic roots. A church has stood on the St. Louis Cathedral
site since 1718. The current building (below, with the Cabildo on the left) was finished in 1793 and overhauled during the 1850s. (Read more about Louisiana churches from John Kendall’s digitized History of New Orleans
On my list for the next visit: The National World War II Museum
, St. Louis Cemetery
and the New Orleans Public Library genealogy department
. (We cover this and other Louisiana repositories in The April 2005 Family Tree Magazine's
Louisiana State Research guide.)