Like many United States' cities, New Orleans has developed a distinctive local dialect over the years. This dialect is neither Cajun or the stereotypical Southern accent so often misportrayed by film and television actors. It does, like earlier Southern Englishes, feature frequent deletion of post-vocalic "r". It is similar to the New York "Brooklynese" dialect to people unfamiliar with it. There are many theories to how this dialect came to be, but it likely results from New Orleans' geographic isolation by water, and the fact that New Orleans was a major port of entry into the United States throughout the 19th century. Many of the immigrant groups who reside in Brooklyn also reside in New Orleans, with Irish, Italians, and Germans being among the largest groups.
One of the strongest varieties of the New Orleans accent is sometimes identified as Yat, from the greeting "Where y'at?" The prestige associated with being from New Orleans by many residents is likely a factor in the linguistic assimilation of the ethnically divergent population. This distinctive accent is dying out generation by generation in the city itself but remains very strong in the surrounding Parishes.
Throughout the Greater New Orleans area, various ethnic groups have retained their distinctive language traditions to this day. Although rare, Kreyol Lwiziyen is still spoken by Louisiana Creole people. Also rare, an archiac Louisiana-Canarian Spanish dialect is spoken by the IsleÃ±os people, but can usually only be heard by older members of the IsleÃ±os population.
The culture of the city has had a profound impact on many people, one of which was Walt Disney, who built a replica of the French Quarter called New Orleans Square in his park Disneyland in 1966, with buildings and landscaping fitting that of 19th Century New Orleans set upon the park's Rivers of America port. When it opened, Walt Disney had then New Orleans mayor, Victor H. Schiro be made honorary mayor of New Orleans Square, and Schiro, in turn, made Disney an honorary citizen of the real New Orleans.
Greater New Orleans is home to numerous celebrations, including Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. New Orleans' most popular celebration is her Carnival, officially beginning on the Feast of the Epiphany; which locals sometimes refer to as "Twelfth Night." The Carnival season is often known (especially by out-of-towners) by the name of its last day, Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday"), held the Tuesday before before the beginning of the Catholic liturgical season of Lent, which by its commencement on Ash Wednesday ends the Carnival season.
The largest of the city's many musical festivals is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Commonly referred to simply as "Jazz Fest," it is one of the largest music festivals in the nation; and features crowds coming from all over the world to experience music, food, arts and crafts. Despite the name, it features not only jazz but a large variety of music, including both native Louisiana music and nationally-known popular music artists.
New Orleans has always been a significant center for music with its intertwined European, Latin American, and African-American cultures. New Orleans' unique musical heritage was born in its pre-American and early American days with a unique blending of European instruments with African rhythms. As the only North American city to allow slaves to gather in public and play their native music (largely in Congo Square, now located within Louis Armstrong Park), likely due to the more relaxed attitudes of French and Creole slave owners as compared to their Anglo-American neighbors, New Orleans was blessed to give birth to an indigenous music, jazz. With New Orleans' large, educated and influential Creole, Haitian and free black population, these African beats intertwined with trained musicians and the city's now famous brass bands gained wide popularity (and they remain just as popular today). Decades later it was home to a distinctive brand of rhythm and blues that contributed greatly to the growth of rock and roll. A great example of the New Orleans sound in the 60s is the #1 US hit "Chapel Of Love" by The Dixie Cups, a song which had the distinction of knocking the Beatles out of the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100. New Orleans became a hotbed for funk music in the 60s and 70s. By the late 1980s it had developed its own localized variant of hip hop called bounce music which, while never commercially successful outside of the Deep South, remained immensely popular in the poor African-American neighborhoods of the city through the 1990s. A cousin of Bounce, New Orleans Rap has seen commercial success locally and internationally. Throughout the 1990s many sludge/doom metal bands have started in the New Orleans area. In addition, the nearby countryside is the home of Cajun music, Zydeco music, and Delta blues.
The city also created its own spin on the old tradition of military brass band funerals; traditional New Orleans funerals with music feature sad music (mostly dirges and hymns) on the way to the cemetery and happy music (hot jazz) on the way back. Such traditional musical funerals still take place when a local musician, a member of a club, krewe, or benevolent society, or a noted dignitary has passed. Until the 1990s most locals preferred to call these "funerals with music," but out of town visitors have long dubbed them "jazz funerals." Younger bands, especially those based in the Treme neighborhood, have embraced the term and now have funerals featuring only jazz music.
The major daily newspaper is the New Orleans Times-Picayune, publishing since 1837. Weekly publications include The Louisiana Weekly and Gambit Weekly. Also in wide circulation is the Clarion Herald, the biweekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
Greater New Orleans is well served by television and radio and is also a popular location for movie production companies. The market is the 54th largest Designated Market Area (DMA) in the U.S., serving 566,960 homes and 0.509% of the U.S. Major television network affiliates serving the area include:
WHNO 20 also operates as an independent station in the area, providing mainly religious programming.
Radio stations serving Greater New Orleans include:
Two music stations that were influential in promoting New Orleans-based bands and singers were 50,000-watt WNOE-AM (1060) and 10,000-watt WTIX-AM (690). These two stations competed head-to-head from the late 50s to the late 70s.
Sites of interest
Greater New Orleans has many major attractions, from the world-renowned Bourbon Street and the French Quarter's notorious nightlife, St. Charles Avenue (home of Tulane and Loyola Universities), and many stately 19th century mansions.
Favorite tourist scenes in New Orleans include the French Quarter (known locally as "the Quarter"), which dates from the French and Spanish eras and is bounded by the Mississippi River and Rampart Street, Canal Street and Esplanade Ave. The French Quarter contains many popular hotels, bars, and nightclubs, most notably around Bourbon Street. Other notable tourist attractions in the quarter include Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the French Market (including CafÃ© du Monde, famous for cafÃ© au lait and beignets), and jazz at Preservation Hall.
Also located near the French Quarter is the old New Orleans Mint, formerly a branch of the United States Mint, now operates as a museum. The National D-Day Museum (renamed as the National WWII Museum) is a relatively new museum (opened on June 6, 2000) dedicated to providing information and materials related to the allied invasion of Normandy, France. The Natchez is an authentic steamboat with a calliope which tours the Mississippi twice daily.
Art museums in the city include the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Audubon Park, the Audubon Zoo, and the Aquarium of the Americas are also located in the city of New Orleans. New Orleans is also noted for its many beautiful cemeteries. Some notable cemeteries in the city include Saint Louis Cemetery and Metairie Cemetery.
Significant gardens include Longue Vue House and Gardens and the New Orleans Botanical Garden. Gardens are also found in places like City Park and Audubon Park. City Park still has one of the largest if not the largest stands of oak trees in the world.
Chalmette Battlefield, located just below the city, is the site of the Battle of New Orleans in which General Andrew Jackson repelled between 11,000 and 14,500 seasoned British troops. General Jackson banded together local New Orleans citizens, Choctaw Indians, local Barataria pirates (the infamous Jean Lafitte), and the first all free black militia in order to rout the British. The final battle of the war of 1812 took place in January of 1815 (officially after the war had ended). It is speculated that had the British taken New Orleans the Treaty of Ghent would have been discarded and hostilities would have continued. Andrew Jackson gained enough fame from the battle of New Orleans to be elected President of the United States in 1828. Tours of the battlefield are available and a reenactment is held every year.
Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, bus tours of the damaged areas became popular and are still available.
New Orleans is world-famous for its food. Like its Jazz, New Orleans is blessed with the only truly indigenous local cuisine in the nation. From the infiltration of hearty cajun country fare over the centuries to the local creole, haute creole and New Orleans French cuisines, New Orleans food is perhaps its most cherished possession. Local ingredients, African, Cuban, French, Spanish and Cajun traditions combine to produce a truly unique and easily recognizable New Orleans flavor.
Unique specialties include beignets, square-shaped fried pastries that could be called French doughnuts (served with coffee and chicory "au lait"); Po'boy and Italian Muffalettas; Gulf oysters on the half-shell, boiled crawfish, and other seafood; Ã©touffÃ©e, jambalaya, gumbo, and other Creole dishes; and the Monday evening favorite of red beans and rice. (Louis Armstrong often signed his letters, "red beans and ricely yours.") New Orleans residents enjoy some of the best restaurants in the United States that cater specifically to locals, and visitors are encouraged to try the local establishments recommended by their hosts.
Professional sports teams include the New Orleans Saints (NFL), the New Orleans Hornets (NBA) and the New Orleans Zephyrs (PCL). The home stadium of the Saints is the Louisiana Superdome, which hosts the annual Sugar Bowl as well as numerous other prominent events (for a listing of these events, see Louisiana Superdome). The home stadium of the Hornets is the New Orleans Arena. New Orleans is also home to the Fair Grounds Race Course, the nation's third-oldest thoroughbred track. In addition, New Orleans is home to the Zurich Classic, a golf tournament on the PGA Tour. For more on sports in New Orleans, see Sports in New Orleans.