Bienville’s Dilemma and the Founding of New Orleans
In the Spring of 1718, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville presided over a small ceremony on the banks of the Mississippi River and officially founded what we know today as the City of New Orleans.
How did Bienville come to choose this site for New Orleans? What were the other options and how do those decisions impact New Orleanians today?
In today’s episode we explore Bienville’s Dilemma with noted author and geographer Richard Campanella. In Richard’s book, Bienville’s Dilemma, he explains the factors that led to the decision to place New Orleans at its present site, rather than at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
You’ll learn the important differences between a good site and a good situation, and why that mattered to the French. We also settle the question of whether New Orleans is predominantly above or below sea level.
As we move forward in time, Richard and I discuss how decisions made at the very beginning of New Orleans continue to impact the city today. Richard also explains how even today you can use subtle clues to retrace the past, including the former boundaries of the plantations that lined the Riverfront from below the French Quarter all the way Uptown to present-day Riverbend in the Carrollton neighborhood.
Join us for a nearly 300 year journey from Bienville to post Katrina New Orleans. You’ll be rewarded with a new understanding and appreciation for the Crescent City.
All this and more on today’s show!
You can find Richard on line at richcampanella.com. You’ll find excerpts from all of his books, as well as a wonderful collection of images of New Orleans.
Richard’s books are available at local New Orleans booksellers, including Octavia Books, Garden District Book Shop and Maple Street Book Shop. You can also purchase an autographed copy of Bienville’s Dilemma directly from Richard. Send him an email at: email@example.com
For scenes of New Orleans life as well as a steady stream of articles about the city, be sure to follow Richard on Twitter (@nolacampanella).
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Thanks to Richard Campanella for joining me on the podcast. His lens as a geographer helps me see New Orleans in an entirely different light. I’ll never wander the streets of Uptown New Orleans again without appreciating the subtle curves, the slices of green space, and the streets that sometime jog left or right when you least expect them.
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