Louisiana is a state in the south-central region of the US. It borders Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi. This state has a population of more than 4,500,000 people. It is crossed by the Mississippi River and is characterized by coastal marsh and swamps.
Louisiana is known for jazz, New Orleans, and Cajun people. This state is home to the world’s longest continuous bridge over a lake, and the first opera in the US was performed here. Louisiana has a unique law system and has the tallest capitol building in the US.
The world’s longest continuous bridge over a lake
Louisiana is also home to the world’s longest continuous bridge over a lake. Lake Pontchartrain Causeway has a length of more than 126,000 feet and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. It is, in fact, so long that in the middle of it, you won’t be able to see land in any direction.
The southbound bridge officially opened in 1956. After this, Louisiana’s government took more than ten years to build a northbound span.
In 1964, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway made the news when six people lost their lives when a bus plunged into the lake.
Crawfish capital in the world
Louisiana is the biggest US crawfish producer! The best place to eat this delicacy is surely Breaux Bridge. This city is located about 9 miles east of Lafayette, and in 1959, the Louisiana Legislature declared it the crawfish capital of the world.
A year later, this city held the first Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, which is still celebrated nowadays. At this event, you will find Cajun dance lessons, eating contests, and parades.
The oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world
The Saint Charles streetcar line is the oldest continuously operating line in the world. This tram first ran in 1835 and has been working for almost 200 years. The Saint Charles streetcar line operates all day long, with a nine minutes interval. During the night hours, the interval is 36-minutes.
This tram starts its journey at South Carrollton Avenue and heads towards the Mississippi River. It then passes through Uptown New Orleans and ends its route in the Central Business District.
Mardi Gras festival
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is among the most popular events in Louisiana. Approximately 1.4 million visitors come to this city every year to participate in the event.
The first time Mardi Gras was celebrated in Louisiana was in 1699. But New Orleans held its first parade only a century years later, in 1800.
Mardi Gras takes place during the two weeks before Shrove Tuesday. During this period, there is a parade almost every day. The ones gathering bigger crowds are, however, during the last five days.
Most parades start in the Uptown and Mid-City districts. They then follow a route along Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue.
New Orleans is the biggest city in Louisiana. Apart from jazz, this metropolis is known for having held the first game of poker in the US. This has also been one of the first places where Italian immigrants first settled.
New Orleans is home to the oldest continuously used cathedral in the nation. The first pharmacy in the US opened its doors here in 1823.
This city is also famous for having invented dental floss and has served as the capital of Louisiana twice.
Frog capital of the world
The little town of Rayne is considered the Frog capital of the world. This city is located a few miles west of Lafayette, not too far from Breaux Bridge.
It all started in the late 19th century. In this period, Mr. Donat Pucheu began to export frog legs. The business was so successful that more and more companies emerged. Rayne’s frogs became so popular that they were even eaten in France! Famous restaurants such as Sardi’s in New York also added them to their menu.
In the early 1900s, the city held its first frog festival, which is still annually held.
The first opera performed in the US
Everybody knows that New Orleans is famous for its jazz scene. But did you know that this city has also played a significant role in the history of US opera?
In fact, the first opera in the US took place in New Orleans! Even though it is now almost unknown, Sylvain, by Ernest Gretry, was the first opera performed in the US in 1796. The performance took place at the Theater de la Rue Saint Pierre, which unfortunately closed just a few years later in 1803.
In the following years, several theaters in New Orleans continued to stage operas. Some of these included Théâtre St. Philippe and Théâtre d’Orléans.
You may find this unbelievable at first, but Louisiana does not follow the English common law. This is the legal system followed by all other states in the country, but Louisiana has different rules.
In fact, this state is based on a civil code established by Napoleon in 1804. But what does this mean in practice?
To put it simply, Napoleon’s civil code derives from direct interpretation. On the other hand, the English common law gives more freedom to the legal precedent.
Gumbo is, without a doubt, the most iconic food in Louisiana. This stew is made with stock, meat, and veggies. These usually include celery, peppers, and onion. To make a traditional gumbo dish, you will also need some sort of thickener. Locals normally use filé powder or okra, a flowering plant. For people who do not like meat, there is also a version with shellfish.
According to experts, this dish dates back to the 18th century. Currently, we are not sure about its exact origins. But we know that gumbo was influenced by several cultures, such as the African, Native American, Spanish, and French ones.
The last state to ban cockfighting
On a negative note, Louisiana was the last state to ban cockfighting in the US. This happened only in June 2007.
However, it took time to free the state from this horrible practice. In fact, the same year, a man in New Orleans was put in jail for possession of more than 700 roosters.
Cockfighting may sound like an old-fashioned tradition, but it is still very popular in many states in the US. For instance, in 2014, more than 100 people in Los Angeles were arrested because of this practice.
We cannot talk about Louisiana without mentioning jazz. This music genre was born in New Orleans from the African-American communities living there.
Before the civil war, Congo Square was one of the few places where white and black people could gather and spend time together playing music.
Many famous jazzists renowned worldwide for their music came from Louisiana. Some of these include Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Pete Fountain.
The jazz scene in New Orleans is still extremely vibrant! Some of the best places to listen to this music genre nowadays are Preservation Hall and The Spotted Cat.
The only state divided into parishes instead of counties
But the Napoleon civil code is not the only Louisiana’s uniqueness. This state is the only one in the US divided into parishes instead of counties.
Parishes date back to the time when Louisiana belonged to the French and Spanish territories.
Both these countries were highly catholic and established several state church parishes. The term ‘parishes’ was adopted in 1807 and was never changed.
Louisiana now has a total of 64 parishes. Out of these, 41 are managed by the Police Jury council.
The Cajun people are an ethnic group living in Louisiana. They are also known as Louisiana Acadians. Most of these people are descendants of the many who arrived in this state during the Expulsion of the Acadians. This refers to the forced removal of the Acadian people from some Canadian Maritime provinces.
The Cajuns people are now famous for their French dialect, delicious cuisine, and unique music.
Unfortunately, Louisiana is also known for its dramatic past. This was one of the states with the highest rates of slavery in the country.
In 1840, New Orleans featured the biggest slave market in the US. It has also been estimated that in 1860, roughly half of the population of Louisiana was enslaved.
Today, Louisiana is trying to educate people about its tragic past. Whitney Plantation Historic District is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state. This site opened in 2014 and now teaches visitors about the history of slavery in Louisiana and opened.
The tallest state capitol in the US
Louisiana is also home to the tallest state capitol in the US. Known as the Capitole de l’État de Louisiane, this building is 450 feet high. Construction works began in 1930 and ended in about one and a half years.
The whole building was built at the price of about $5 million. In 1982 the Capitole de l’État de Louisiane was designated a National Historic Landmark. This building now houses the office of the government of Louisiana. The chambers for the Louisiana State Legislature are also located here.