New Orleans is like no other place in the world, and the city’s unusually green fall seasons also add to its unique character. The Big Easy stays green year-round largely thanks to its huge population of live oak trees, which thrive in the sub-tropical climate and have been growing in the area for centuries. Here’s a closer look at these mossy marvels and how they came to be one of the city’s most beautiful natural features.
Old Oaks, New City
Live oaks have been among the most prominent trees in the Deep South and along the Gulf Coast for hundreds of years, and they certainly pre-dated European settlement in the region now known as New Orleans. Found along the lagoon in City Park, the city’s biggest and oldest live oaks were once part of a large forest that provided shade for Native Americans passing through. As New Orleans steadily grew throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the forest of oaks became a welcome refuge from the hustle and bustle of life in a new port city.
A Park Is Born
In 1891, city officials began officially developing City Park, cultivating a 1,300-acre area of land and planting a new generation of live oaks. Additional live oaks were planted when the New Orleans Works Progress Administration further expanded and improved upon City Park in the 1930s. The park continued to improve and expand in the following decades, during which even more live oaks were planted.
Hurricane Katrina and Live Oaks in New Orleans Today
When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, City Park saw extensive damage and lost more than 2,000 trees. Fortunately, most of the park’s oldest oaks were spared, including the well-known McDonogh, Anseman, and Suicide oaks. The remaining historic live oaks are a silent, living reminder of the resilience of New Orleans and its long history. Volunteers in the Friends of City Park group maintain these and other City Park trees so that visitors and locals alike can enjoy their greenery throughout each year.
Exploring the live oaks of City Park is just one of the many outdoor experiences you can have in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. Joieful is your expert guide to everything exciting in New Orleans, including walking tours, dining, historic attractions, and more. Contact Joieful to purchase your experience today.