Not exactly a favorable beginning, but settlers persevered in a city now nearly 300 years old. The city was founded by the French, at one time under Spanish domination, back to the French and sold to America.
Continually through the 19th century, diseases such as yellow fever attacked residents. By the 1850’s the city was booming with the export of cotton to Europe and trade with Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. With a mostly plantation-based economy, New Orleans became a major center for the slave trade, which lasted until the Civil War.
These New Orleans stories and more are told in WYES’ newest documentary, NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS, premiering on WYES-TV/Channel 12 on Wednesday, November 15 at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. The program is narrated by actor John Goodman.
Rare photos and films illustrate a city that began and continues to be a mix of cultures. The program spotlights the early days of the celebration of Carnival and also focuses on the city’s music and political history.
NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS includes interviews with Grammy award-winning singer Irma Thomas; former New Orleans Council Member-at-Large Jacquelyn Clarkson; Bruce Boyd Raeburn, executive director at Tulane’s Hogan Jazz Archive; bandleader Deacon John Moore; Jason Weise, associate director, Williams Research Center of The Historic New Orleans Collection; author Walter Issacson; and WWNO radio host Gwen Thompkins — just to name a few.
A rare 1981 interview with playwright Tennessee Williams is another highlight. Williams talks about the influence New Orleans had on him and his career. NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS is produced by Peggy Scott Laborde. Editor is Larry Roussarie. Associate producers are Kelsi Schreiber and Burke Bischoff. Principal photographer is Dave Landry.
NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS is part of WYES-TV’s ongoing coverage of the city’s Tricentennial celebration which is being produced in association with The Historic New Orleans Collection and the Meraux Foundation. Additional sponsors are the City of New Orleans and the WYES Producers Circle, a group of generous contributors dedicated to the support of WYES’ local programs.
NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS repeats Saturday, November 18 at 4:00 p.m. and Thursday, November 23 at 1:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m. For additional program details, go to wyes.org.