New Orleans occupies a singular position within American life. Drawing deeply from Old World traditions and New World possibilities, the port city of the Mississippi has proved a lure to an extraordinary variety of travellers from its very earliest days. New Orleans has always been a world city like no other: it combines the magnolia and moonlight appeal of Southern romanticism, a popular sense of exoticism and decadence, the hint of illicit sex, and a cultural history without compare. However, alongside the glamour there runs another story - of tension, conflict, hardship and destruction.It was in the nineteenth century that the city's most distinctive characteristics were forged, and chapters will be based around signal moments that reveal the city's essential qualities: the Battle of New Orleans in 1815; the World's Fair in 1884; the establishment of Storyville in 1897. Whilst painting a portrait of the public face of New Orleans, the book will look behind the carnival mask to explore aspects of the citys history which have so often been kept hidden from view.