The crescent that gave rise to our city’s nickname runs from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue, across from Algiers Point. It hugs a sharp, crescent-shaped bend of the river, and the moniker became popular in the early 1800s.
When Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville was looking for a place to build a city in the Louisiana Territory in 1718, he spotted a stretch of land on the river that was higher than the surrounding area. He reportedly was taken with the dramatic bend in the Mississippi River and its proximity to the nearby lake, which he named Pontchartrain. There was also a bayou that ran from the lake almost to the river. Most important, the spot for the city he planned would be ideal for monitoring river traffic.
Bienville apparently was so enchanted with the spot that he wasn’t deterred by the cypress swamp that would have to be cleared, the potential for hurricanes and flooding, the heat and humidity, alligators or swarms of mosquitoes.