Founded in 1718, the Crescent City is centered on a bend along the Mississippi River about 110 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. Also bounded by Lake Pontchartrain to the north, the city is completely surrounded by water, with much of it actually resting below sea level.
The city was named Novelle Orleans, or New Orleans, in honor of Phillippe II, Duc d'Orleans during the reign of French King Louis XV. Adrien de Pauger laid out the street plan of the now world-famous French Quarter in 1718. Now home to a wide range of shops and restaurants, the Quarter attracts visitors form all around the world.
The city is most well known for the large party held annually since 1827, Mardi Gras. Carnival sweeps the city each year around February complete with extravagant parades in both the Garden District and the French Quarter. Also of note is the Jazz & Heritage Festival, which has occurred each spring since 1970. The festival pays homage to the great jazz musicians of the past since this unique musical form was born in New Orleans. The fusion of both French and Creole cultures make the city unlike any other within the United States.