The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans

The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans

by Lawrence N. Powell
5.0 1
Pub. Date:
Select a Purchase Option
  • purchase options

Temporarily Out of Stock Online


The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans

This is the story of a city that shouldn't exist. In the seventeenth century, what is now America's most beguiling metropolis was nothing more than a swamp: prone to flooding, infested with snakes, battered by hurricanes. But through the intense imperial rivalries of Spain, France, and England, and the ambitious, entrepreneurial merchants and settlers from four continents who risked their lives to succeed in colonial America, this unpromising site became a crossroads for the whole Atlantic world.

Lawrence N. Powell, a decades-long resident and observer of New Orleans, gives us the full sweep of the city's history from its founding through Louisiana statehood in 1812. We see the Crescent City evolve from a French village, to an African market town, to a Spanish fortress, and finally to an Anglo-American center of trade and commerce. We hear and feel the mix of peoples, religions, and languages from four continents that make the place electric-and always on the verge of unraveling. The Accidental City is the story of land-jobbing schemes, stock market crashes, and nonstop squabbles over status, power, and position, with enough rogues, smugglers, and self-fashioners to fill a picaresque novel.

Powell's tale underscores the fluidity and contingency of the past, revealing a place where people made their own history. This is a city, and a history, marked by challenges and perpetual shifts in shape and direction, like the sinuous river on which it is perched.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674059870
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/30/2012
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents

1 An Impossible River 1

2 A Landjobbing Scheme 33

3 Utopian by Design 60

4 Improvising a City 92

5 Changing of the Guard 129

6 In Contraband We Trust 164

7 A Creole City 197

8 Slavery and the Struggle for Mastery 222

9 The Slaves Remake Themselves 249

10 A New People, a New Racial Order 277

11 The American Gateway 314

Epilogue 352

Notes 361

Acknowledgments 401

Index 405

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago