Welcome to New Orleans, home of Mardi Gras and one of America's favorite cities! Founded in 1718, the Crescent City is centered on a bend along the Mississippi River about 110 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. Also bounded by Lake Pontchartrain to the north, the city is completely surrounded by water, with much of it actually resting below sea level. The city was named Novelle Orleans, or New Orleans, in honor of Phillippe II, Duc d'Orleans during the reign of French King Louis XV. Adrien de Pauger laid out the street plan of the now world-famous French Quarter in 1718. Now home to a wide range of shops and restaurants in addition to the infamous, the Quarter attracts visitors form all around the world. The city is most well known for the large party held annually since 1827, Mardi Gras. Carnival sweeps the city each year around February complete with extravagant parades in both the Garden District and the French Quarter. Also of note is the Jazz & Heritage Festival, which has occurred each spring since 1970. The festival pays homage to the great jazz musicians of the past since this unique musical form was born in New Orleans. The great majority of the city’s skyscrapers can be found in the CBD, with the others sprinkled throughout the rest of the city. The fusion of both French and Creole cultures make the city unlike any other within the United States. Everything about the city from the food to the architecture are distinctly New Orleans and should be experienced in person to fully appreciate all the city has to offer. On Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina came ashore along the Gulf Coast with the eye wall passing just 30 miles to the east of the city. It being a Category 4 storm with sustained winds greater than 100 miles per hour, the city sustained major damage with subsequent levee and floodwall breaks flooding 80 percent of the city. In being one of America's truly unique cities and a national treasure, New Orleans will recover and rebuild in the coming years. The city has taken a mighty blow, but in time the jazz and good times will return to the "Big Easy."