From USA Today:
NEW ORLEANS — Ever since Canadian-born French explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville chose the swampy, flood-prone bend in the lower Mississippi River in 1718 as the spot for a new French colony, New Orleans has been a non-stop roller coaster of historical events.
Nouvelle-Orléans, as it was originally known, was ruled by three countries in less than a century — France, Spain and America — and swelled with Caribbean, European and African immigrants. It endured outbreaks of yellow fever, slave uprisings, river floods and one debilitating hurricane after another. The most recent big one, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, submerged 80% of the city, led to about 1,400 deaths and threatened the city’s very existence. This year, New Orleans, birthplace of jazz and jambalaya, celebrates its survival from three centuries of tumult with a 300th birthday party filled with exhibitions, panel discussions, street parades and parties. Throughout the city, large “300” signs have been set up in plazas and parks, each big enough for visitors to snap pictures beside.
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