Plan of New Orleans the Capital of Louisiana; With the Disposition of Its Quarters and Canals as They Have Been Traced by Mr. de la Tour in the Year 1720


New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, governor of the French colony of Louisiana. Bienville named the town after Philippe, Duke of Orléans, regent for King Louis XV. This map, published in London in 1759 by Thomas Jefferys, displays the focus and symmetry of the town plan, which was designed by or under the direction of Bienville. The “Mr. de la Tour” in the title refers to one of the earliest detailed manuscript plans of the city and denotes Pierre Le Blond de la Tour (circa 1670–1723), a Frenchman who was the chief royal engineer in Louisiana. Important places, such as the house of the intendant, the jails and guard house, and the hospital and convent of the Ursulines, are marked on the legend. The Mississippi River is referred to by the French designation “River Saint Louis,” but the indigenous American name that ultimately would prevail also is given, spelled as both “Mississippi” and “Meshassepi.” The inset maps show the course of the Mississippi from Bayagoulas to the Gulf of Mexico, and the east mouth of the Mississippi with a plan of Fort Balise, the French bastion defending the entrance to the river. The "Bayagoulas" were Indians living near the present-day town of Bayou Goula, Louisiana, in Iberville Parish. Their name was derived from the Choctaw or Mobilian language meaning "bayou people.”

Last updated: May 10, 2016