Top Ranked Hospitals in Louisiana

According to a U.S. News & World Report, one Louisiana hospital is nationally ranked while four other hospitals meet national high performance standards.  This is great news considering Louisiana has had poor health ratings in the past. Louisiana has rated poorly in obesity, smoking, diabetes, and physical inactivity.  With this new high hospital rating data, hopes are high that it will counteract some of the lower health ratings.

Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans

Oschner is nationally ranked in sixspecialties: 23th in Neurology & Neurosurgery, 24th in Ear Nose and Throat,31st in Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, 40th in Nephrology and Pulmonology,and 45th in Orthopedics. The hospital is also ranked No. 1 in both the stateand the New Orleans Metro area.  Ochsner Medical Center is located onJefferson Highway, near Uptown New Orleans and includes acute and sub-acutefacilities and centers of excellence: Ochsner Cancer Institute, OchsnerMulti-Organ Transplant Center and Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute. As a767-bed acute care hospital, Ochsner Medical Center, Ochsner Medical Missionaries the opportunity to learn and provide patient care at a Magnet facilitywith three Centers of Excellence, all the while gaining exposure to complexmedical cases. This campus is also one of six training sites in the world forrobotic surgery and is nationally known for many skilled physicians. Ochsner Health System is a part of Ochsner Health System, a non-profit,academic, multi-specialty healthcare system. Their commitment to patient care,education and research, and their unique coordinated neighborhood-based systemprovides healthcare with peace of mind by putting the needs of all patientsfirst. Ochsner continuously meets the ever-changing needs of our patients andcommunity through electronically-linked hospitals and health centers. Their patients’ electronic medical records are available from any Ochsner location, allowing for the most consistent patient care, both for routine health needs and more complex medical conditions.

Our Lady of Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge

OLL is ranked No. 2 in Louisiana. The hospital has high performance rankings for five procedures and conditions: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart bypass surgery, heart failure, hip replacements and knee replacements. Our Lady of the Lake is uniquely capable of caring for a full range of illness or injury, including those that are extremely complex, for both pediatric and adult patients. Their family of services includes:

-An 800-bed hospital and the area’s only Level II Trauma Center
-A dedicated Children’s Hospital, which will transition to a freestanding hospital in 2019
-A 450-provider care network covering more than 40 specialties
-Two free-standing emergency rooms—Our Lady of the Lake Livingston and Our Lady of the Lake North
-A network of nearly 15 urgent care clinics
-Outpatient imaging and surgery centers
-Assumption Community Hospital
-Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University


They serve 35,000 inpatients and650,000 outpatients annually and are committed to building a healthy communitythrough excellence in patient care and education. A part of the FranciscanMissionaries of Our Lady Health System, Our Lady of the Lake is consistentlyawarded for compassionate care, clinical expertise, leading edge technology andinnovation.

East Jefferson General Hospital

From its earliest days, EJGH formed a bond with the community and has been proud to grow along with the communities in the East Bank of Jefferson Parish. They pledge to always offer the highest quality, compassionate healthcare to the people they serve.  EJGH Leadership is comprised of healthcare professionals with diverse specialties. They are all dedicated to bringing the community excellence in healthcare and the best overall patient experience. The nationally recognized care at EJGH is further validated through numerous organizations and accrediting bodies highly rating our services. In addition, EJGH provides its clinical outcomes to our patients as a valuable community service. Quality scores are indicators that compare EJGH quality of care to national and state averages.


Christus Health Shreveport-Bossier

CHSB is a Catholic, nonprofit system owned and operated by CHRISTUS Health, Dallas, Texas. They have provided high-quality, cost-effective care since 1894. The CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier staff includes more than 600 physicians, 1,800 employees and 200 volunteers. Our areas of specialty include cardiovascular services, oncology, orthopedic and neurological services, primary care medicine, surgical services, and women’s and children’s services.  CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier’s areas of specialty include cardiovascular services, oncology, orthopedic and neurological services, primary care and medicine, surgical services, and women’s and children’s services. CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier continues its long, proud tradition of providing the community and surrounding areas with the latest state-of-the-art technology combined with the best possible hands-on care. For more than 100 years, CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier and the Sisters of Charity have been committed to meeting the unanswered needs of the communities they serve. CHRISTUS Health’s strong commitment to mission work and community service is evident in all its work.

For more Louisiana news and info, click here.


Top Louisiana Cities to Live In

The 31st-largest state, you’ll find counties here in Louisiana. Instead, the state is the only place in the country to divide its areas into parishes. That’s not the only thing Louisiana does differently; the legal system is unlike in other states too.  Louisiana is also home to the world’s longest water-spanning bridge and the USA’s tallest state capitol. The laid-back lifestyle and rich diversity of the state make Louisiana a great place to live. Below are some of the best places to live in Louisiana and you can click here to read about more.

1. New Orleans
The largest city in Louisiana, New Orleans comes in at top place for its wide variety of amenities and opportunities. With a population of around 400k, there is a lot of diversity from all walks of life.  Don’t be surprised if you hear people describe New Orleans as a “Northern Caribbean city” because the inherent culture has its earliest roots in French culture. The city was founded in 1718 by explorers Iberville and Bienville then modified by infusions of residents from the Caribbean Isles, all before the Americans took over in 1803. And it’s why many say New Orleans feels more like Europe than the USA.  Known as “The Crescent City,” and, of course, “TheBig Easy,” New Orleans offers a lifestyle that is worlds apart from the hustle and bustle of most metropolitan areas. Situated amidst LakePontchartrain on the north, the Mississippi River on the south, and wetlands all around, the city is a bit of an island itself, a factor that has allowed local traditions to grow and develop during the past centuries so that NewOrleans has a quirky character all its own.  The culture is reflected in the food, known around the world for its interesting spices and seafood base. From the haute cuisine of the fine French restaurants to earthy fried oyster Po’-boys at neighborhood restaurants, the cuisine reflects the diversity and eccentricities of this port city. There’s definitely no time to feel bored.

2. Inniswold
Coming in at number two, Inniswold is part of East Baton Rouge Parish. With a population of around 5,000, the area is especially known for its lower-than-average crime rate. Residents generally enjoy a good quality of life and there are many local amenities. The city’s top-notch restaurants especially are raved about.  Try Stabb’s while you are there and opt for Hawaiian fare and go grab a bite at The Cove.  There is a great public school system there and parents rave about the low teacher/student ratio.  Some Louisiana residents choose to commute to Inniswold for the higher paying wages. With relatively short commuting times more and more arechoosing to drive to Inniswold! Interstate 10 runs to the south of the parish and the Jefferson Highway is also easy to access.  Housing prices are fairly high, at $210,600 on average. The median monthly rental costs for a two-bedroom property are $1,192. Living costs are higher than the state and national averages, but remember the old saying, “you get what you pay for”, and this is especially true living in Inniswold.

3. Brusly
The town of Brusly is located within West Baton Rouge Parish. While you may need to travel a little way to reach your favorite restaurants and shops, Brusly offers plenty right there.  Try out Louisiana BayouBistro or Athenos Cafe for a nice, tasty dinner. Grab your dog or your workout buddy and get some fresh air at one of the two local parks.  Warm weather, high income levels, low unemployment figures, and low crime rates more than make up for a few extra minutes to reach certain leisure facilities and stores, though!  Parents rave about the higher than average high school pass rate and Brusly turns out many college-bound students who often return and build up the community which is very tight-knit.  The monthly rental price comes in under the national average at $765, although there are more privately owned homes in than rented properties.

4. Scott
Lafayette Parish’s Scott has a fairly large population, of around 10,000. The median age is 31, helping to create a place to live that has high energy and a mature outlook.  Quality of life is great here despite the median income being under $49,000. Grab a bite at Fezzo’s Seafood, Steak & Oyster House that will knock your socks off or opt for more local fare at Billy’s Boudin.  There is plenty to do including tons of free events and entertainment like festivals with food and entertainment, including the world renowned Festival International, one of the largest free festivals of its kind that brings in acts from all over the world.  The area has some of the lowest living costs when compared to other popular places to live in Louisianaas well as some of the highest employment rates, with just 4.7% of thecommunity out of work. Scott’s a healthy place to live too; the air qualityscore is a low 33 helping it to earn the Clean City contest.

5. Baton Rouge
The state capital and second-largest city of Louisiana, the city is a major hubfor the medical, industrial, shipping, research, and petrochemical industries,and the technology industry is seeing rapid growth. Of course, there are manyother job opportunities as well.  The economy is booming in Baton Rouge.Not only has the city been placed in the top ten destinations around the US tostart a new business, but it has also been named as one of the top ten placesoverall for young adults. Home of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge residents can take advantage of numeroussporting events and campus activities, many of which are free.  BatonRouge has also been listed as one of North America’s top twenty cities when itcomes to economic strength. Entrepreneurs, investors, and young professionalsshould definitely keep their eyes on Baton Rouge. Try out Parrain’s Seafood Restaurant and bring your credit card to Perkins Rowe so you can shop til you drop.


6. Youngsville
The small city of Youngsville can be found in Lafayette Parish not too far from Scott. The population of over 10,000 enjoys a suburban vibe coupled with the facilities and amenities of city life. It’s the best of both worlds.  The average age is 32, making it neither old nor young, despite the city’s youthful name. Nightlife may be somewhat lacking when compared to other cities around the state, but the opportunities for a happy family life attract a generally more settled crowd.  85% of Youngsville’s residents are property owners with higher than average household incomes and it’s considered a great place to buy a property. Locals are warm, welcoming, and friendly, and people take pride in keeping the city looking clean and tidy. Grab lunch at Zeus, a local chain serving Greek and Lebanese dishes.

7. Westminster
Not as highly ranking as Inniswold but still a great place to live, Westminster is another highly sought after area in East Baton Rouge Parish. In close proximity of the state capitol, you can benefit from easy access to the city and myriad opportunities while still maintaining a peaceful suburban home life.  Schools boast high graduation rates and with two universities close by, many students become educated and remain in their communities which strengthens the areas commerce and morale. Those seeking further education opportunities have good options. The total number of crimes is significantly lower that the rest of the state – a whopping 81% lower.  Although the high living costs may deter some people (15% higher than the state’s average figures), the median household income is significantly higher (87%) than the state average making Westminster a great choice for most. Try Albasha, a small local chain of Middle Eastern fare in a stylish setting.

8. Mandeville
Part of the greater New Orleans metropolitan area, Mandeville sits on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain in the parish of St. Tammany.  The population is a little over 12,100. Low rates of crime, high graduation rates, pleasant weather, and good household income levels combine to keep locals smiling. You won’t have to look far to find a decent selection of restaurants and shops, and you can work off all the delicious local food in one of the fitness centers. Try Nuvolari’s or Pat Gallagher’s for a delicious, upscale meal.  Plus, the vibrant city of New Orleans is within close proximity.  

9. Belle Chasse
Sitting on the edges of the Mississippi River, Belle Chasse is the biggest town in Plaquemines Parish.  With some of the state’s highest property prices for both ownership and renting, it’s not a place for a typical first home. The prices do, however, reflect how sought-after the area is, making it a terrific choice for people looking to make an upgrade to existing living arrangements.  Median rents are $1,130 per month in Belle Chasse, while the average home costs in the region of $227,200. The affluence of the area can be seen in the median annual income for a household: $66,730. When it comes to cutting loose and having some fun, Belles Chasse has great fishing spots, a shooting range, various sports facilities, a dirt-bike track, and restaurants that dish up some of the best Cajun food you’ll ever taste.  And let’s not forget the great lineup of annual celebrations too. Belle Chasse hosts Crawfish Fest, Orange Fest, Gamers Fest, and more.  Make rezzies at Zydeco’s Cajun Restaurant for dinner.  You won’t regret it!

10. Metairie
Sandwiched between New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain, Metairie’s farming heritage set the stage for the gorgeous local parks that sit there now.  The greenery is a nice aesthetic and helps to break up the cement and tall buildings. Metairie has a sporty vibe; it’s home to the New Orleans Baby Cakes baseball team and the NFL team the New Orleans Saints train in there. There are many sports facilities to encourage a fit and healthy community. The area also has more ethnic and racial diversity than many other parts of the state and the crime rate is lower than the state average by an impressive 47%. Home prices are fairly high, at $210,900.


For more on Louisiana’s top places to live, click here. For more articles similar to this one, click here.

Louisiana’s Top 5 Historic Homes Tours

Beignets, alligators, the French Quarter, and historic homes: these are typically what you’ll find at the top of most visitors’ Louisiana itineraries. Even if you only have a few days to explore New Orleans and beyond, the chances that you’ll end up at a plantation are pretty high.  Many of the state’s amazing antebellum homes and plantation mansions remain intact, and are meticulously maintained and furnished with beautiful period pieces. These classic homes and gardens are located all over the state, with large concentrations along the Great River Road, across south and central Louisiana, and in “Plantation Country” between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Others are located in West Feliciana Parish around the St. Francisville area, and along Bayou Teche near New Iberia.  But with all of the options–and the history, both good and bad–which of the state’s many sprawling properties should you visit? This list contains the 5 best plantations in Louisiana. Make the most of your time along the River Road and beyond as you learn about Southern history at these properties.

Why are these the best plantations in Louisiana?
Before we delve into the specifics of the list, it’s worth asking why we should focus on antebellum Southern history in the first place.  After all, it’s been over 150 years since the heyday of the Southern plantations–and they’re still some of the most popular sites to visit below the Mason-Dixon line. Why?  Maybe it’s because they’re the closest thing we’ve got to the castles of Europe. Maybe it’s because we want to remember the history of slavery so we never repeat it again. Maybe it’s because we’re still amazed that people could have that much money to own such massive parcels of land.  No matter the reason, plantations are big business in the South. The history that can be found on these plots–from the oral traditions and basketry skills of the slaves to the political machinations of the plantation owners, is amazing.


So, for each of these plantations, it is important to look at how many different stories were told at the properties:


– Was the narrative just of the typical wealthy white male owner, or were there stories of the enslaved people and the white women who lived there as well?

– Was there a balance in narrative between the antebellum period, the Reconstruction, and modern restoration?

– Was there a focus on history as well as architecture?

– And, was there something specific about this property that made it stand out from the others?

Not only are these properties well kept and beautiful, but they do an excellent job of telling more than 300 years of history alongside the modern day interpretation of what a historic property such as these should be and do.


1) Houmas House

At its peak in the late 1800s, Houmas House produced over 20 million pounds of sugar a year. Only a few decades later, the Great Depression hit and caused the family who owned it to board the place up. A new owner took over in 1940, and over renovations inside and out, he opened the house and grounds to the public in the early 1960s.  The most recent owner, Kevin Kelly, bought the property in 2003 and has expanded the plantation’s offerings to include a massive garden, restaurant, and inn.

2) Laura Plantation

Built in 1805, this Creole plantation is only one of fifteen in existence with this particular building style. This plantation was particularly interesting since it is 1) named after a woman, Laura Locoul Gore, and 2) was run by that same woman during its heyday. Most of what is known about the plantation comes from Laura’s journals.  It is rare to come across a plantation that focuses so completely on a female owner and operator, and thus, Laura Plantation is an excellent foil to the narratives that you’ll see at many other Southern plantations. The Brer Rabbit folktales were collected by Norman Marmillion, a preservationist who saw the value in recording the oral tales brought to America from Senegal by the slaves. During his time finding and recording these stories, Marmillion spent a significant time at Laura Plantation, and, because of this, the plantation is considered to be one of the birthplaces of the Brer Rabbit tales.  Additionally, the tour at Laura Plantation includes a walk through of one of the slave homes, and it is heartbreaking to see how little they were given in order to eke out a life.

3) Rosedown Plantation

From a purely architectural view, this plantation house is stunning, and it’s clear why it makes the list of best plantations in Louisiana. It’s all white clapboard and hand carved spindles and huge porches.  Agriculturally, this property is also unusual. Unlike the other plantations on this list, Rosedown’s crop of choice was cotton. The original owners’ descendants decided to sell the entire property in the mid-1900s, and an avid gardener named Catherine Fondren Underwood bought it. Underwood revitalized the gardens to their former beauty using heirloom seeds and cuttings.  Today, the property is preserved in a state park. Strangely, Rosedown has built in closets, something that was nearly unheard of during the early 1900s. Most people kept their clothes in wardrobes or trunks.

4) Oak Alley Plantation

One of the most iconic of the historic mansions along the River Road, Oak Alley continually tops lists of the best plantations in Louisiana–and for good reason.  Also a sugar plantation on River Road, Oak Alley fell into disrepair after the Civil War and passed through many hands before Andrew and Josephine Stewart bought it in 1926. Because of their restoration efforts (the first of the major restoration projects in this area), the plantation remains in the excellent condition that it is today. After Josephine died, the entire plantation went into a trust so that the property would remain open to visitors.

As a pop culture aside, there have been SO many things filmed at Oak Alley, the most well-known of which is a portion of Interview with a Vampire. More recently, Beyonce chose this plantation to shoot both her “Deja Vue” video and photo inserts for the “B’day” album.

5) Myrtles Plantation

One of the Myrtles’ main advertising tactics is to focus on the supposed hauntings. Dating from the late 1700s, Myrtles was built by “Whisky Dave”–and you know the place is exciting just because of that guy’s name. In the mid-1800s, the house exchanged hands; these new owners put in specially etched glass with crosses in it in order to ward off the evil that was in the house.  Most recently, the ghost of Chloe, a former house servant, has taken center stage with her appearance in a 1992 photograph. For those brave enough, the Myrtles Plantation also serves as bed and breakfast.

 

When is the Best Time of Year to Take a Plantation Tour?

 

It really depends on what you mean by “best”, but we’ll break it down by best weather, best prices, and least crowds. In terms of weather, you’ll find relatively warm and mild weather most of the year in Louisiana. You’ll get the best weather between the months of November and May, expect it to be warm but not too humid. June to the end of November is hurricane season, so expect rain and possible storms and rain is also common in the spring. Mosquitoes can exist in Louisiana all year, but are worse during the summer months and are generally fairly active from about March to October.

The most crowded times are around the New Orleans festivals and events, so avoid them if you are looking for smaller crowds and better hotel prices. The biggest events are the Sugar Bowl (early January), Mardi Gras (February/early March), French Quarter Fest (April), Jazz Fest (April/May), and Halloween. The months of July, August, and December tend to be the least crowded but July and August are the most humid and hot. July and August also tend to be when hotels offer their cheapest rates.

Those looking for a good balance might consider December, May, or June. During the month of December, many plantations are decorated for the Christmas holiday season.

For more info about the best Louisiana Plantation tours, click here.  For more Louisiana travel tips and info, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Bread Pudding in New Orleans

 

  1. Commander’s Palace

Commander’s Palace, nestled in the middle of the tree-lined Garden District, has been a New Orleans landmark since 1893. Known for the award-winning quality of its food and its convivial atmosphere, the history of this famous restaurant offers a glimpse into New Orleans’ storied past and has been the go-to destination for Haute Creole cuisine and whimsical Louisiana charm. The winner of six James Beard Foundation Awards, Commander’s Palace has evolved into a culinary legend.

When Ella, Dottie, Dick and John Brennan took over personal supervision of the restaurant in 1974, they began to give the splendid old landmark a new look both inside and out including painting the outside the iconic “Commander’s Blue.”

Now under the watchful eye of co-proprietors Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan, the Brennan family’s dedication to perfection has never wavered. A steady parade of renowned chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Jamie Shannon, and now Tory McPhail have made Commander’s Palace the world-class restaurant what it is today and its leading-edge Haute Creole cuisine reflects the best of the city.

 

  1. Boucherie

When southern Louisiana was still new, the tradition of a Boucherie must have been as ritual to the first Cajun peoples as Mardi Gras and Jazz fest are to us now.

Communities would gather at the beginning of the more difficult times of year to help one another complete their seasonal stores born out of the feast made possible by the whole of the people gathered. Each family that took part in a Boucherie would take home a portion of the hogs slaughtered during the celebration, and every community that held one did so in turn; ensuring that the rotation of the pigs that made up the celebration could last through the winter.

Today, as in the past, Boucheries are both performed as traditional intimate family affairs, as well as being the basis for huge festivals and celebrations throughout southern Louisiana.

 

  1. Red Fish Grill

This vibrant, seafood-centric, polished-casual landmark anchors the first block of Bourbon Street and delivers innovative twists on casual New Orleans seafood. The lively décor, expansive bar, and laid-back vibe beckons both the young and young at heart.

 

  1. Gumbo Shop

This New Orleans institution has won the Best Gumbo category in the Best of New Orleans poll every year since 1999. Instead of a house gumbo, this restaurant offers seafood, okra and chicken-andouille versions of this indigenous soup as well as file gumbo with chicken. They are offered as sides or starters for a full menu of Creole cuisine served at the restaurant or in a variety of sizes to take home for dinner or a party. And the Gumbo Shop’s roux always comes out right.

 

  1. Lil Dizzy’s Cafe

At Lil’ Dizzy’s, producing great fried chicken is a matter of historical pride.Owner Wayne Baquet learned the restaurant trade from his father Eddie, namesake of the legendary 7th Ward restaurant Eddie’s, who got into the business in the 1940s working at Paul Gross Chicken Coop with his aunt, Ada Baquet Gross. Lil’ Dizzy’s is the only Baquet-owned restaurant still going, and Wayne is serious about doing the Creole-Soul tradition proud.

 

  1. Mother’s Restaurant

Mother’s Restaurant opened its doors in 1938 on Poydras Street’s “Restaurant Row”, situated between a thriving waterfront and the courthouse. Owners Simon and Mary (Mother) Landry and his large family cooked up po’ boys for lines of longshoremen and laborers, newspapermen and attorneys. During and after World War II, Mother’s became a local hang-out for “the few and the proud” – the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marine spirit was in the family – five of the seven Landry children (five sons and two daughters) joined the Marine Corps. Francis Landry was the first woman in Louisiana to be accepted into the Corps. This special association with the Marines earned Mother’s the title of “TUN Tavern New Orleans” in the late ’60s. The original TUN tavern was the official birthplace of the Marines during the Revolutionary War.  Mother’s is not just a part of this great American tradition, but also stands as a uniquely New Orleans institution. The likes of other family-owned local businesses such as D.H. Holmes Department Stores, K&B Drug Stores, MacKenzie’s Bakery, and Werlein’s Music have all departed from the landscape, while Mother’s Restaurant has not only remained almost exactly the same, but has flourished.

  1.     Bon Ton Cafe

Originally opened in the early 1900’s, it has long been a favorite of local dining connoisseurs. After a brief recess, Al and Alzina Pierce came to New Orleans in the early 1950’s from their home along the bayous of South Louisiana and reopened the Bon Ton. With them came recipes that their families had created while living deep in the Cajun country of Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes.

 

  1. Muriel’s Jackson Square

While dining at Muriel’s Jackson Square, you’ll be enveloped by the rich history of the Vieux Carre while celebrating the life of today. Indulge in the spirits of our Courtyard Bar while Sir Antoine and the spirits of yesteryear dine alongside of you. Embrace the historical ambience, feel the energy, and taste the love in every bite as the flavors dance on your palate while you discover a local treasure. Today you can find locals socializing just as they first did when our city was built. Within Muriel’s historic walls, the city of New Orleans was built by citizens that passed through. Today that savor for life can be experienced by our patrons in the award-winning contemporary Creole cuisine we serve.

 

  1. Mr. B’s Bistro

Mr. B’s is one of the brightest stars in the New Orleans restaurant scene. Nestled in the heart of the French Quarter, Mr. B’s Bistro is located at the corner of Royal and Iberville Streets. Cindy Brennan and her famous restaurant family opened Mr. B’s in 1979 and it has become a true French quarter fixture famous for deft cooking of regional specialties in a casual bistro setting.

 

  1. K-Paul’s

In 1979, when Chef Paul Prudhomme and his late wife, K, opened their “modest”, 62-seat K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen on Chartres Street in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans, they had no idea the restaurant was soon to become a sensation, with nightly lines of eager diners waiting sometimes hours to be seated. That was back in the days when K-Paul’s didn’t accept reservations or credit cards! But now, under the hands-on direction of Chef Paul the restaurant has flourished.

 

For more Louisiana news, click here.

 

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Louisiana

Everyone thinks they know Louisiana but we bet there is something on this list of 10 that you weren’t aware of.  Louisiana has a rich, complex history that is fascinating to learn about. How many did you know out of 10?

  1. While all of Louisiana may be known for its crawfish, Breaux Bridge reigns as king of crustaceans. The city is called the “Crawfish Capital of the World” and has been proving it for over 50 years with its annual Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. The Crawfish Festival has also become one of the largest gatherings of world famous Cajun musicians. All weekend long you can hear the sound of authentic Cajun, Zydeco and Swamp Pop music rising from the festival. Whether your musical taste is Cajun or Creole, you can witness over 30 bands perform over the three day event if you think you have the stamina. It’s a perfect opportunity to see our musical tradition passed from generation to generation. Watch the Cajun dance contests, and if you’re brave, join in. There’s no better way to learn. There are even Cajun music workshops held in the heritage tent.

    2. The first bottler of Coca-Cola, Joseph Biedenharn, lived in Monroe, where he purchased a small bottling plant to produce the drink.  The plant is now a museum and can be toured year round.  Young and old can connect to the gracious life of his daughter Emy-Lou through guided tours of the house. The rooms are exhibited as they were lived in, reflecting the eclectic taste of a well-traveled woman. In the furnishings and accessories, one will see Emy-Lou’s love of music, nature and family.  Guests will enjoy the beauty of rare furniture and antiques featured in the library, music, dining, breakfast and living rooms. The bedrooms display crystal chandeliers, high tester beds, and artistic accessories highlighting Emy-Lou’s European singing career.

    3. Louisiana was named in honor of King Louis XIV, the King of France from 1643-1715.

    4. Until about 1890, City Park in New Orleans was a favorite dueling spot for Creole people. They would gather at the “Dueling Oaks” with a pistol, saber or colichemarde (long sword) and fight with their opponents.  New Orleans City Park lost approximately 2,000 trees after Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures, but the Dueling Oak still stands where Dueling Oaks Drive meets Dreyfous Drive between the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden and the New Orleans Museum of Art. At one point, there was a placard that explained the tree’s historical significance, but it’s no longer there.  Originally, there were two “dueling oaks,” but one was lost in a hurricane in 1949. In the 1800s, men would defend their pride and honor by dueling each other under the oaks at what is now City Park but then was a normally quiet spot secluded from the rest of the city. Some of the city’s most notable figures who participated in duels in City Park include U.S. Congressman Emile LaSere and Bernard de Marigny, a nobleman and president of the Louisiana Senate in 1822-23. Many of the disputes between parties were either reconciled before the duel or after one party sustained a minor injury. Dueling deaths were reported, however. In 1805, Micajah Green Lewis, Gov. William C.C. Claiborne’s private secretary and brother-in-law, was killed by Robert Sterry, a Claiborne opponent. By 1890, dueling was outlawed.

    5. In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million dollars, nearly doubling the size of the country.  The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 brought into the United States about 828,000,000 square miles of territory from France, thereby doubling the size of the young republic. What was known at the time as the Louisiana Territory stretched from the Mississippi River in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west and from the Gulf of Mexico in the south to the Canadian border in the north. Part or all of 15 states were eventually created from the land deal, which is considered one of the most important achievements of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency.

    6. Just because it’s called the “French Quarter” doesn’t mean that being in New Orleans’ famous neighborhood is like strolling through a Parisian city. Most of the buildings today were influenced by Spanish architecture after a fire in 1794 destroyed most of the French colonial architecture.  The fire started on December 8, 1794. The fire area stretched across 212 buildings, including the royal jail.[1] It spared the Mississippi River front buildings. Among the buildings spared were the Customs House, the tobacco warehouses, the Governor’s Building, the Royal Hospital, and the Ursulines Convent. Despite widespread fire damage, the St. Louis Cathedral was not destroyed but was dedicated just 2 weeks later, on December 23, 1794.

    7. Louisiana is the only state that still acts under Napoleonic code, which derives from the original French emperor’s civil code. It was drafted by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force on 21 March 1804.  The Code, with its stress on clearly written and accessible law, was a major step in replacing the previous patchwork of feudal laws. Historian Robert Holtman regards it as one of the few documents that have influenced the whole world. The Napoleonic Code was not the first legal code to be established in a European country with a civil legal system; it was preceded by the Codex Maximilianeus bavaricus civilis (Bavaria, 1756), the Allgemeines Landrecht (Prussia, 1794), and the West Galician Code (Galicia, then part of Austria, 1797). It was, however,the first modern legal code to be adopted with a pan-European scope, and it strongly influenced the law of many of the countries formed during and after the Napoleonic Wars.  The Napoleonic Code influenced developing countries outside Europe, especially in the Middle East, attempting to modernize their countries through legal reforms.

    8. The town of Jean Lafitte was once a hideaway for pirates. It was also named after the French-born Louisiana pirate of the same name. The Barataria region was originally home to Native Americans, whose shell middens and ceremonial mounds are still found along the bayous. Shortly after the founding of New Orleans in 1718, the French explored the area and established Barataria Bay as a harbor for large vessels on the Gulf Coast.  By the 1730s, early colonists used the area’s virgin forests of cypress and oak trees for ship construction. Canals were dug between the Mississippi River and bayous to transport lumber, and logging persisted until the last sawmill closed in 1929. Meanwhile, plantation owners cultivated the land for sugar and rice production, and the area was an important supplier of fish, game and furs.  The name “Barataria” first appeared on French maps in 1729 and means dishonesty at sea. In 1808, brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte organized a group of smugglers and privateers and set up headquarters in the barrier island of Grand Terre. They were known to use Indian shell middens for storehouses and sold merchandise to merchants and plantation owners. During the War of 1812, the brothers joined Andrew Jackson to defend the City of New Orleans and were given pardons for their service. The bayou communities grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as residents harvested shrimp, crabs, oysters and fish from the estuaries. Forests were logged, moss was harvested for filling mattresses and furniture, and mink, muskrats and alligators were trapped for skin and fur. The diverse cultures of the early French and Spanish settlers were later joined by Croatians, who were followed by Filipino and Chinese.

    9. There are almost half as many alligators as there are people in Louisiana.  Louisiana alligator hunters currently harvest more than 28,000 wild alligators, and farmers harvest more than 280,000 farm-raised alligators annually. Raw meat and hide values are estimated at more than $11 million for wild harvest and more than $46 million for farm harvest. (Note these values consist of raw meat and hides only and do not reflect hide values after tanning and product manufacturing, values associated with jobs, tourism, economy, etc. or egg values.)

    10. The first opera in the United States was performed in New Orleans in 1796.  The date of the very first staging of opera in the Crescent City cannot be firmly established and seems forever lost to music historians.  But it can safely be stated that since 1796, in the final decade of the Spanish colonial era, New Orleans has had operatic performances on almost a yearly basis.  What is also significant is that, with few exceptions throughout the nineteenth century, each year the city hosted a resident company which was engaged for its principal theatre and which could be depended upon for performances throughout an established operatic season.  The Théâtre St. Pierre, on St. Peter street between Royal and Bourbon, opened in October 1792.  Louis Alexandre Henry had purchased the land the previous year and built the theatre, which featured plays, comedies and vaudeville.  It was there, on May 22,1796, that the first documented staging of an opera in New Orleans, André Ernest Grétry’s Sylvain, took place.  The St. Pierre closed in 1803 and the Théâtre St. Philippe, at St. Philip and Royal streets, opened January 30, 1808 with the American premiere of Etienne Nicholas Méhul’s Une Folie.  During the first third of the nineteenth century there was slow yearly growth as various theatres opened (and in some cases closed) and the repertoire was expanded to include, in addition to the popular light scores of Grétry, Méhul, Nicolo Isouard, Nicholas Dalayrac and François Boieldieu, works by Italian composers such as Giovanni Paisiello’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Luigi Cherubini’s Les Deux Journées.

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Israel Looking to Louisiana for Drilling Expertise

Israel may be looking to Louisiana companies for help extracting natural gas found in the Mediterranean Sea.

Gov. John Bel Edwards met with Israel’s energy minister Yuval Steinitz in Jerusalem Sunday (Oct. 28) to discuss how Louisiana companies could assist Israel with removing the natural gas. The governor said he wants Israel to be energy independent, which would make the small country less dependent on its neighbors in the Middle East.

“They’re looking for experience and expertise and, of course, we’ve been doing that in Louisiana for a long time,” Edwards said.

Edwards is currently visiting Israel to map out the details. Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, who is in Israel with the governor, said the meeting with Israeli energy officials was meant to establish a relationship that will hopefully lead to a follow up meeting. Energy executives already operating in Israel are also scheduled to chat with the governor and others from Louisiana Thursday, according to a press release.

“We have some opportunities for Louisiana companies to potentially catch the eye of Israel,” Dardenne said.

The meeting with Israel’s energy minister is part of a week long-trade mission Edwards is taking to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Edwards is expected to meet with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, according to a press release sent by the governor’s staff.

Before the business meetings began, Edwards and his wife, Donna, took in some religious sites and tourist attractions on the trip. The governor and first lady visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust remembrance center, and attended mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which Christians recognize as the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

“It is a tremendous opportunity for me and Donna, as practicing Catholic Christians, to come over and actually see the places we’ve been reading about and studying about and praying about all of our lives,” Edwards said.

International business relations hasn’t always been easy for Louisianan politicians.  Dealings are often fraught with controversy. Just in January, the NEw Orleans city council caused major backlash with it’s Pro-Palestinian stance. They faced a torrent of criticism for its decision to unanimously approve a resolution pushed by the New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee that critics say is an effort to marginalize Israel.

The language of the resolution, which the Palestinian Solidarity Committee said was drafted in cooperation with Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell’s council office after several meetings with her, does not specifically mention Israel. But it does resolve to create a committee to “review direct investments and contracts for inclusion on, or removal from, the city’s list of corporate securities and contractual partners.”

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, in a statement later Friday, said the resolution was “ill advised, gratuitous and does not reflect the policy of the city of New Orleans.” He also said his administration won’t change contracting policies.

A spokeswoman for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, Caitrin Gladow, said the resolution’s language is consistent with a movement known as Boycott, Divest and Sanctions, or BDS, which she said has been used to advance anti-Israel causes. She described the movement as divisive and opposed to the goals of the organization, which believes in “a two-state solution.”

The local Jewish Federation was also sharply critical of the council’s decision to suspend the rules to add the resolution to the agenda, which didn’t give the Jewish Federation time to review the resolution and assemble opposition to speak at Thursday’s meeting.

One of the New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee members specifically mentioned Middle East politics ahead of the council vote, saying the City Council shouldn’t invest in companies such as Caterpillar because its equipment has been used to bulldoze the homes of Palestinians. In an interview, The Palestinian Solidarity Committee’s Tabitha Mustafa, said that the resolution isn’t aimed at Israel specifically.

“There’s no effort to marginalize Israel, but there’s certainly an effort to make sure that the city is not contracting with companies or institutions that violate human rights,” Mustafa said. “If Israel is one of those countries,” she added, then the city should divest.

The association with the BDS movement is what’s prompting much of the backlash against the council’s action, including from U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, state Sen. Conrad Appel, both Republicans, and the Anti-Defamation League. Cassidy said in a statement Friday that the resolution “is rooted in anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel.

“This measure stands in solidarity with a Palestinian government that routinely sponsors and encourages terrorism,” Cassidy said. “I hope the council recognizes their error and reverses this misguided decision.”

It’s not clear that council members realized how controversial the resolution would become. City Councilwoman Susan Guidry said during the meeting that she didn’t have time to review the resolution and understand its implications. On Friday, Councilwoman Stacy Head, who co-sponsored the resolution, also said she didn’t fully grasp the reaction that started unfolding late Thursday.

“When I saw it early this week, I naively thought it was yet another example of the Council’s historical pattern of putting forward feel-good resolutions, which have no legal effect,” Head said in a statement. “I took the resolution’s language at face value without understanding its intent. My co-sponsorship should not be taken as a slight to the Jewish community in New Orleans, which continues to contribute so much to our city.”

In his statement, Landrieu said his administration “has been and will remain committed to human rights both in New Orleans and across the globe.” He said since the council’s vote he’s “heard a variety of concerns from a cross-section of constituents about the potential impact of this resolution on our community.”

Cantrell spokesman David Winkler-Schmit said the resolution came as the result of the Welcoming Cities effort. In 2015, Cantrell pushed through a resolution to officially designate New Orleans as a place open to immigrants and non-English speakers.

“There is absolutely no intention on the part of the mayor-elect to be a part of any process that would be considered anti-Israel,” Winkler-Schmit said, adding that resolutions do not have the power of law and only mark the potential starting point in the process to draft an ordinance. He did not indicate any such ordinance was planned.

The Anti-Defamation League agreed, issuing a statement criticizing the process.

“The Council’s adoption of this resolution without any public notice or the opportunity to promote alternative views was both a deep disappointment and a one-sided, undemocratic process,” the group said. “Although this measure does not reference BDS or Israel, it is clear from video of the hearing what supporters for this controversial measure thought it was about.”

City Councilman Jason Williams, whom the Palestinian Solidarity Committee said introduced the resolution, sought to portray the resolution as similar to past efforts to encourage governments to divest from South Africa to protest apartheid. But pro-Israel critics have cautioned against aligning anti-apartheid movements with the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions effort.

“South African apartheid rigidly enforced racial laws,” Benjamin Pogrund, the author of a book investigating accusations of apartheid in Israel, wrote in the New York Times in March. “Israel is not remotely comparable.”

Williams issued a statement Friday afternoon.

“My support of this measure was not, and is not, intended to in any way be reflective of either an anti-Israel or pro-BDS sentiment,” Williams said. “Any process or examining committee will be locally rooted and made up of New Orleanians from every walk of life.”

Max Geller, a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee and the Jewish Voice for Peace, disagrees. He said he thinks the apartheid description is apt, and he questioned why the Jewish Federation released a statement that described BDS as having “inherently anti-Semitic components” and “designed to challenge Israel’s economic viability and very right to exist.”

“I don’t understand what the Jewish Federation is so afraid of. If their position is that Israel isn’t committing Israeli human rights abuses, they have nothing to worry about,” Geller said. He described the City Council’s resolution as a broad effort among several different causes in the city to target countries and companies that engage in human rights abuses, including Honduras.

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