The city of New Orleans has seen its share of pandemics and has survived them all. In this first of our 4 part blog series we discuss the cholera outbreak of the 1800’s. Cholera had never appeared in North America until 1832. The Asiatic cholera pandemic of 1826-1837 originated in Northeast India. By 1831 it had affected all of Russia’s major cities. It reached Paris during the late winter of that same year where it raged well into the spring of 1832. By that April it had spread into Scotland and across the Irish Sea. Irish immigrants that traveled to Canada and the United States carried cholera with them. By the end of summer more than 3000 New Yorkers had died. The pandemic reached New Orleans by late October and it would kill over 4300 people.
Death and Devastation
Someone who woke up healthy could become violently ill, severely dehydrated, and die within hours. This terrified residents of New Orleans. Cholera spread rapidly because of early poor sanitation. Once it contaminated the water Cholera killed both the poor and the rich. It was hard to find room for all of the bodies. As Dr. George B Wood would write two decades after the epidemic, “No barriers are sufficient to obstruct its progress. It crosses mountains, deserts, and oceans. Opposing winds do not check it. All classes of persons, male and female, young and old, the robust and the feeble, are exposed to its assault.” The city purchased Lafayette Cemetery in 1832 and established it in 1833 to respond to the cholera deaths.
Reason For Hope
History has proven that New Orleans and its citizens have weathered many things over the years. The current crisis is no exception. Once this pandemic is over, The Savvy Native and our guides will return to what we love, sharing the beautiful, historical and resilient city of New Orleans with our guests. We are all in this together. Stay safe!
The Savvy Native is a group of experienced local tour guides who were either born in New Orleans or wish they had been.
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