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Hilton Riverside
Hilton New Orleans Riverside
Two Poydras Street, 
New Orleans, LA 
70140

Tel: 1-504-561-0500 
Fax: 1-504-568-1721 

(check availability and rates)
 





> LOUISIANA TRAVEL WEBLOG

Swathed in the romance of pirates, voodoo and Mardi Gras, LOUISIANA is undeniably special. Its history is barely on nodding terms with the view that America was the creation of the Pilgrim Fathers; its way of life is proudly set apart. This is the land of the rural, French-speaking Cajuns (descended from the Acadians, eighteenth-century French-Canadian refugees), who live in the prairies and swamps in the southwest of the state, and the Creoles of jazzy, sassy New Orleans . (The term Creole was originally used to define anyone born in the state to French or Spanish colonists - famed in the nineteenth century for their masked balls, family feuds and duels - as well as native-born, French-speaking slaves, but has since come to define anyone or anything native to Louisiana, and in particular its black population.) Louisiana's spicy home-cooked food , regular festivals and lilting French-based dialect - and above all its music ( jazz, R&B, Cajun and its bluesy black counterpart, zydeco) - draw from all these cultures. Oddly enough, north Louisiana - Protestant Bible Belt country, where old plantation homes stand decaying in vast cottonfields - feels more "Southern" than the marshy bayous, shaded by ancient cypress trees and laced with wispy trails of Spanish moss, of the Catholic south of the state.

The French first settled Louisiana in 1682, braving swamps and plagues to harvest the abundant cypress, but the state was sparsely inhabited before its first permanent settlement, the trading post of Natchitoches , was established in 1714. In 1760, Louis XV secretly handed New Orleans, along with all French territory west of the Mississippi, to his Spanish cousin, Charles III, as a safeguard against the British. Louisiana remained Spanish until it was ceded to Napoleon in 1801, under the proviso that it should never change hands again. Just two years later, however, Napoleon, strapped for cash to fund his battles with the British in Europe, struck a bargain with president Thomas Jefferson known as the Louisiana Purchase . This sneaky agreement handed over to the US all French lands between Canada and Mexico, from the Mississippi to the Rockies, for a total cost of $15 million. The subsequent "Americanization" of Louisiana was one of the most momentous periods in the state's history, with the port of New Orleans, in its key position near the mouth of the Mississippi River , growing to become one of the nation's wealthiest cities. Though the state seceded from the Union to join the Confederacy in 1861, there were important differences between Louisiana and the rest of the slave-driven South. The Black Code , drawn up by the French in 1685 to govern Saint-Domingue (today's Haiti) and established in Louisiana in 1724, had given slaves rights unparalleled elsewhere, including permission to marry, meet socially and take Sundays off. The black population of New Orleans in particular was renowned as exceptionally literate and cosmopolitan.

Though Louisiana was not physically scarred by the Civil War, with few important battles fought on its soil, its economy was ravaged, and its social structures all but destroyed. The Reconstruction era, too, hit particularly hard here, with the once great city of New Orleans suffering a period of unprecedented lawlessness and racial violence. In time the economy, at least, recovered, benefiting from the key importance of the mighty Mississippi River and the discovery of offshore oil, but over the last century Louisiana has come to rely more and more heavily upon tourism , centered around New Orleans and Cajun country. And it's not hard to see why: whether canoeing along a moss-tangled bayou, dining in a crumbling Creole cottage on spicy, buttery crawfish, or dancing on a steamy starlit night to the best live music in the world, few visitors fail to fall in love with Louisiana.

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