Did you know that New Orleans belonged to both France and Spain before it belonged to the United States? A cultural melting pot with a strong identity and spirit, New Orleans, affectionately known as “the Big Easy,” “NOLA” and N’Awlins,” is home to more than 1 million people who continue to appreciate its unique blend of food, art, music and mood.
The city’s French-Creole and Spanish roots and culturally rich landscape continue to attract visitors and residents from the world over. Located where the Intracoastal Waterway meets the Mississippi River, Port Nola is the sole port in the nation that serves six Class 1 railroads. Higher education also brings numerous people to the city—Tulane University, The University of New Orleans and Loyola University are highly regarded institutions in the area. While NOLA lost a few residents post-Hurricane Katrina, about 1.2 million folks currently live in the metro, and almost 400,000 residents live in the city proper. New Orleans has historically been known for exporting goods such as coffee and sugar, thanks to its international port, and today, the city is growing a post-Katrina economy with industries ranging from apparel and paper products to petroleum, aircraft parts and healthcare.
Many people think of the famous streetcar when it comes to navigating New Orleans. In particular, the St. Charles Streetcar, which travels the famous French Quarter, is a great way to see the city. Other options for transportation, all through the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, include buses and even river ferries. But don’t discount simply walking or biking, particularly when the weather is not scorchingly hot.
From attending a New Orleans Saints football game to enjoying some delicious Creole cuisine and hearing live tunes every night of the week, you’ll find plenty to do in the Big Easy year-round. Meanwhile, larger events, such as the French Quarter Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and, of course, Mardi Gras, draw countless revelers each year.