1. Despite what people may think, New Orleans’ popular Bourbon Street was not named after the whiskey. It was actually named after the Bourbon dynasty of France.
2. Mardi Gras masks aren’t just for fun. It’s illegal to ride on a Mardi Gras float in New Orleans without one.
3. The spikes on many poles in the city used to be used to protect the daughters of French aristocrats from unwanted suitors. Today, they’re still helpful, but only to prevent Mardi Gras goers from climbing up the poles.
4. Each seat in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is a different color than the one next to it. This coloring makes it seem like the stadium has a full house, even if doesn’t.
5. Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter is the oldest continuously run restaurant in Louisiana, established in 1840.
6. New Orleans has frequently been listed as one of the most haunted cities in America, and for good reason. The city is full of haunted mansions and graveyards and has enough ghost stories to last you a lifetime.
7. Remember to thank New Orleans when sipping on your favorite happy-hour cocktail. America’s first mixed, the sazerac, was created by Antoine Peychard in a French Quarter bar. It’s now the official cocktail of New Orleans.
8. New Orleans has more total mileage of canals, both above and below ground, than Venice in Italy.
9. New Orleans dentist Levi Spear Parmly invented the very first form of dental floss.
10. The iconic Andrew Jackson monument in Jackson Square is the world’s first equestrian statue in which the horse has more than one foot off the base.
11. New Orleans was home to the world’s first permanent for-profit movie theatre, Vitascope Hall.
12. New Orleans is one of the few US cities that has been run under three different flags. It was founded by the French, had a period under Spanish rule, was ruled under the French again and then was eventually sold to the United States.
13. New Orleans was the only place in the world where slaves were allowed to own drums, which eventually lead to the city’s creation of jazz music.
14. However, while most agree that New Orleans is the “Birthplace of Jazz,” the specific creator of jazz is debated. Some say the music style was born in 1895 when Buddy Bolden started his first band, but others say jazz originated when Nick LaRocca and his band recorded their first jazz record.
15. The death mask of the French military and political leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, is housed in the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans.
16. Baton Rouge may be Louisiana’s capital today, but New Orleans was named state capital twice, once as the capital of the French colony of Louisiana and again in 1864.
17. The first game of Poker was played in New Orleans in the 19th century using a 20-card pack.
18. The St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square is the oldest continuously used cathedral in the US.
19. New Orleans is often called the “Crescent City” because of the distinctive curve of the Mississippi River that runs right through it.
20. City Park, one of the largest urban parks in the nation, used to be a favorite spot for Creole men to meet and duel with pistols and swords.
21. Today, City Park is much mellower, and is the most popular place in the city for weddings.
22. The New Orleans based music group, the Dixie Cups, beat out the Beatles for the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 list in 1964 with their song, “Chapel of Love.”
23. New Orleans voodoo queen Marie Laveau’s tomb receives more visitors each year than Elvis Presley’s grave.
24. Canal Street was once planned to be an actual canal. However, the waterway was never constructed, and it now acts as one of New Orleans’ busiest streets instead.
25. The last major outbreak of yellow fever in the US was in New Orleans in 1905.
26. Although New Orleans’ famed neighborhood may be called the French Quarter, most of the buildings were influenced by Spanish architecture.
27. The first opera in America, Ernest Gretry’s “Sylvain,” was performed in New Orleans in 1796.
28. What the rest of the country calls a “median,” New Orleans calls “neutral ground.” The strip of ground in the middle of the road was named after the French and Spanish of the city who could only do business on specific “neutral ground” locations.
29. The LaLaurie Mansion is known as the most haunted place in the French Quarter. The elegant LeLaurie family that originally lived there harbored a secret that was exposed during a fire when firemen discovered dozens of slaves chained to the walls and body parts littered on the floor in a secret attic.
30. Despite New Orleans’ reputation as the country’s prime Mardi Gras destination, it wasn’t the first US city to host a Fat Tuesday celebration. Instead, Mobile, Alabama held America’s first Mardi Gras festivity.
31. New Orleans was the first home to the American Mafia and the site of the first Mafia incident in the US.
32. Despite its reputation for Cajun cuisine, the predominant type of New Orleans cooking is Creole.
33. The Battle of New Orleans may have been the final major battle of the War of 1812, but it didn’t have much impact on the outcome of the war. The battle took place two weeks after the war had officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. But at least the victory did boost everyone’s national pride.
34. Because the city was built on a swamp, most of the dead in New Orleans are buried in above ground tombs. Everyone would love to see grandma again, just not in that way.
35. New Orleans was the first site of Italian immigration in the Unites States. It also had the largest Italian population in the country, until New York and Baltimore became the preferred immigrant destinations.
36. The Saint Charles streetcar is one of the country’s only mobile national monuments.
37. New Orleans’ Louis Joseph Dufilho, Jr was the first pharmacist in America. His apothecary shop on Chartres Street is still there, only now it acts as a pharmacy museum.
38. French pirate Jean Lafitte, who operated in Louisiana, helped General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans against the British in 1815.
39. Jazz funerals are a unique part of New Orleans’ history and culture. The music and dancing of the funeral was originally intended to help the deceased find their way to heaven and celebrate their final leaving from Earth.
40. Celebrities Ellen DeGeneres, John Goodman, Tyler Perry and Reese Witherspoon are all from New Orleans.
41. The site of the now Metairie Cemetery was originally a horse racing track.
42. The Old Ursuline convent is the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley and the oldest surviving example of the French colonial period in the country.
What’s your favorite New Orleans fun fact? Tell us in the comments below!