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New Orleans: A Timeline

GOOD's Guide to NOLA Basics originally appeared in GOOD Magazine's New Orleans Issue. Read more from the magazine here.

1718 Founded as La Nouvelle-Orléans by members of the French Mississippi Company, the city becomes a major hub for traders in the U.S. interior.

1763 The Seven Years War ends. The Treaty of Paris gives New Orleans to Spain.

1803 The Spanish return the city to the French. Meanwhile, Napoleon sells the entire Louisiana Territory to the United States, which takes control of the city on December 20.

1812 Louisiana enters the Union as the 18th state.

1815 The Battle of New Orleans pits an outnumbered Andrew Jackson against 10,000 British troops. He wins, even though the War of 1812 was already ended by truce before the battle begins.

1817 The Washington becomes the first steamboat to sail up the Mississippi as far as Louisville, Kentucky ushering in the golden age of steamboat travel.

1836 The port of New Orleans is the busiest in the country.

1830s The Sazerac, quite possibly the first cocktail invented in America, is born in New Orleans.

1856 The Mystick Krewe of Comus begins Mardi Gras celebrations in the city.

1862 Taken by Union troops early in the Civil War, New Orleans avoids the destruction visited upon most Southern cities.

1863 The city’s famous streetcars begin running.

1892 Harold Plessy is removed from a whites-only New Orleans street car. The Supreme Court case resulting from the removal codifies the idea of “separate but equal.”

1900 New Orleans native Buddy Bolden begins playing what many claim to be the original jazz music. He is never recorded.

1927 The Great Mississippi Flood displaces 700,000 residents. The flood is made worse when officials dynamite a levee, flooding much of St. Bernard Parish.

1978 New Orleans’s first black mayor, Ernest Morial, is sworn into office.

2005 Hurricane Katrina

2009 The New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl.

2010 BP Oil Spill

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