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  New Orleans as the New York of the South
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Author Topic: New Orleans as the New York of the South  (Read 249 times)
Grand Mufti of Northern Virginia
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« on: September 10, 2019, 10:20:43 pm »
« edited: September 10, 2019, 10:25:33 pm by Grand Mufti of Northern Virginia »

Given its geographic, economic, and cultural advantages, why didn't New Orleans (as a seaport) emerge to become the New York City of the South, and become every bit as powerful and populous as its northern neighbor, with its own stock exchange?  
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WARR BOY
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2019, 10:52:49 pm »

Up until the 1900s (and the late 1900s at that) southern cities didn't have the same serious concerted efforts to build them into serious centers of commerce that northern cities did. Unlike the north where social capital was held in cities and centers of industry, the south relying on a plantation system with a landed gentry meant that cities were meant for import/export but not much else.
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DINGO Joe stands on Sanchez
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2019, 10:55:32 pm »

It did have it's own exchange--the cotton exchange.  Turns out it wasn't enough.  Obviously, the Civil War turned the South into an economic backwater.  New Orleans has some geographic issues that would have guaranteed that it could never grow to NYC standards in the best case scenario anyway.

New Orleans actually has considerable limitations as a seaport in modern times too.  The Mississippi River is really the only North American river (well, the Colorado too) that rebuilt it's delta post ice age.  The Hudson, the Brazos, etc all have deltas submerge well below sea level.  The end result is that you have to navigate up river quite a distance to get to port.  As ships got bigger, navigation and maintaining channel depth became quite an issue too.  Houston is a much easier port to get in and out of logistically.  The railroad also made rivers less important.
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Southern Senator North Carolina Yankee
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2019, 12:06:09 am »

A large part of the story of the first decade of the 19th century, is the shift of Midwest commerce and settlement away from a New Orleans centric orbit to a NYC centric orbit and its implications proved decisive for the outcome of the Civil War and the election of Abraham Lincoln for that matter.
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dead0man
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2019, 05:49:12 am »

could lack of AC kept the money away....New Oreans is brutal in the summer.  Sure, DC is a humid swamp and it certainly gets hot in NYC....but not hot like NO.
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Orser67
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2019, 05:21:31 pm »

New Orleans actually was the NYC of the South in the 19th century; at the time of the Civil War, it was about 2.5x more populous than any other Southern city (source) excluding Baltimore and Washington, and was about 4x more populous than any other Confederate city. Excluding Baltimore and Washington, New Orleans was still the most populous city in the South in 1940. And subjectively, my understanding is that New Orleans was generally considered to be the South's "most cosmopolitan" city for much of its history.

So while issues unique to New Orleans certainly play a role, a lot of the answer comes down to differences between the North and South in the 19th and 20th centuries.
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DINGO Joe stands on Sanchez
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« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2019, 06:39:08 pm »

could lack of AC kept the money away....New Oreans is brutal in the summer.  Sure, DC is a humid swamp and it certainly gets hot in NYC....but not hot like NO.

Yeah, I don't know how people wore wool and survived in this kind of climate pre-AC.
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Skill and Chance
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2019, 07:57:18 pm »
« Edited: September 11, 2019, 08:01:57 pm by Skill and Chance »

New Orleans actually was the NYC of the South in the 19th century; at the time of the Civil War, it was about 2.5x more populous than any other Southern city (source) excluding Baltimore and Washington, and was about 4x more populous than any other Confederate city. Excluding Baltimore and Washington, New Orleans was still the most populous city in the South in 1940. And subjectively, my understanding is that New Orleans was generally considered to be the South's "most cosmopolitan" city for much of its history.

So while issues unique to New Orleans certainly play a role, a lot of the answer comes down to differences between the North and South in the 19th and 20th centuries.

This all strongly suggests heat and disease was the limitation.  Today in the AC/antibacterial/vaccine era, Houston is next door in the same climate and it's going to be the 3rd largest city in the country (and 2nd largest east of the Rockies) within the next decade.   
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Kingpoleon
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2019, 09:58:44 pm »

Just a guess here, but it might have something to do with how New Orleans makes Chicago look like a model city.
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Orser67
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2019, 10:05:48 am »

New Orleans actually was the NYC of the South in the 19th century; at the time of the Civil War, it was about 2.5x more populous than any other Southern city (source) excluding Baltimore and Washington, and was about 4x more populous than any other Confederate city. Excluding Baltimore and Washington, New Orleans was still the most populous city in the South in 1940. And subjectively, my understanding is that New Orleans was generally considered to be the South's "most cosmopolitan" city for much of its history.

So while issues unique to New Orleans certainly play a role, a lot of the answer comes down to differences between the North and South in the 19th and 20th centuries.

This all strongly suggests heat and disease was the limitation.  Today in the AC/antibacterial/vaccine era, Houston is next door in the same climate and it's going to be the 3rd largest city in the country (and 2nd largest east of the Rockies) within the next decade.   

Heat was almost certainly a factor, but so was the fact that immigrants generally chose the North over the South during the 19th century, and so was the fact that the South was economically and (arguably) politically less advanced than the North both before and after the Civil War. Obviously there's some overlap there in terms of one factor reinforcing another, and there's also the matter of whether one chooses to take a perspective of "geography/climate determines civilization" or a more contingent perspective.
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