The French Quarter isn’t French

Most of New Orleans’ iconic architecture was built by another colonial power.

Although the French founded New Orleans in 1718 and eventually sold the city — along with the rest of the Louisiana Purchase — to the United States in 1803, the territory was not always under French control.

From from 1763 to 1803, Louisiana was owned by the Spanish, and over the course of their forty-year rule, a series of fires destroyed almost all of the Quarter’s original buildings. After the neighborhood’s reconstruction by the Spanish, architectural elements from the Iberian peninsula, such as yawning balconies, tropical colors, and filigree ironwork, have defined the French Quarter ever since.

Today, only one building, the Old Ursuline Convent, remains from the French period.

Finished in 1753, the Old Ursuline Convent is also the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley.