Here’s an old poem about New Orleans that I came across. In fact it was written around the time the Crescent City had reached it’s century mark so I would say around 1818 or so.
Old New Orleans – What It Was Like and In Many Ways Still the Same – Poem
This provides a little window in how it was back then and how in some ways not much has changed, just a few terms have changed… you know… to protect the innocent. And let me tell you, there is nothing innocent about New Orleans. Ha ha ha.
Now I don’t know if the old colonel was telling the reader in this poem that this place is kind of a madhouse and it’s best to stay away, or that it’s so amazing and varied and crazy that it’s a sight you can’t miss. Either way, it’s still today a “nation of queer places,” as he says, and I mean queer in the old sense of the word.
Have You Ever Been to New Orleans
By Colonel James R. Creecy
Have you ever been to New Orleans? If not, you’d better go.
It’s a nation of queer places; day and night a show!
Frenchmen, Spaniards, West Indians, Creoles, Mustees,
Yankees, Kentuckians, Tennesseans, lawyers and trustees;
Clergymen, priests, friars, nuns, women of all strains;
Negroes in purple and fine linen, and slaves in rags and chains;
Ships, arks, steamboats, robbers, pirates, alligators,
Assassins, gamblers, drunkards, and cotton speculators,
Yellow fever in February — muddy streets all year;
Many things to hope for, and a devilish sight to fear!
Gold and silver bullion — United States bank notes,
Horse races, cockfighters, and beggars without coats.
Snapping turtles, sugar, sugar houses, water snakes,
Molasses, flour, whiskey, tobacco, corn and johnny cakes,
Beef, cattle, hogs, pork, turkeys, Kentucky rifles.
Lumber, boards, apples, cotton and many other trifles.
Butter, cheese, onions, wild beasts in wooden cages.
Barbers, waiters, draymen, with the highest sort of wages.
Now and then there are duels, for very little cause;
The natives soon forget ’em — they care not much for laws.