New Orleans The First 300 Years logo

Encore Saturday, November 18 at 4:00 p.m. & Thursday, November 23 at 1:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m.
PREMIERED NOVEMBER 15, 2017

“There were alligators everywhere; there were gnats, and mosquitoes, and flies of all kinds. Reptiles slithering was described. They had the disease to fight, the hot, humid climate. So it was a very rough start in the colony.” — Ann Masson, New Orleans historian

Not exactly a favorable beginning, but settlers persevered in a city now nearly 300 years old. The city was founded by the French, at one time under Spanish domination, back to the French and sold to America. Continually through the 19th century, diseases such as yellow fever attacked residents. By the 1850’s the city was booming with the export of cotton to Europe and trade with Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. With a mostly plantation-based economy, New Orleans became a major center for the slave trade, which lasted until the Civil War.

These New Orleans stories and more are told in WYES’ newest documentary, NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS, premiering on WYES-TV/Channel 12 on Wednesday, November 15 at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. The program is narrated by actor John Goodman. Rare photos and films illustrate a city that began and continues to be a mix of cultures. The program spotlights the early days of the celebration of Carnival and also focuses on the city’s music and political history.

NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS includes interviews with Grammy award-winning singer Irma Thomas; former New Orleans Council Member-at-Large Jacquelyn Clarkson; Bruce Boyd Raeburn, executive director at Tulane’s Hogan Jazz Archive; bandleader Deacon John Moore; Jason Weise, associate director, Williams Research Center of The Historic New Orleans Collection; author Walter Issacson; and WWNO radio host Gwen Thompkins—just to name a few.

A rare 1981 interview with playwright Tennessee Williams is another highlight. Williams talks about the influence New Orleans had on him and his career. NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS is produced by Peggy Scott Laborde. Director is Larry Roussarie. Associate producers are Kelsi Schreiber and Burke Bischoff. Principal photographer is Dave Landry.

NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS is part of WYES-TV’s ongoing coverage of the city’s Tricentennial celebration which is being produced in association with The Historic New Orleans Collection and the Meraux Foundation. Additional sponsors are the City of New Orleans and the WYES Producers Circle, a group of generous contributors dedicated to the support of WYES’ local programs. NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS repeats Saturday, November 18 at 4:00 p.m. and Thursday, November 23 at 1:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m.


Program Made Possible By:


Appearing in NEW ORLEANS: THE FIRST 300 YEARS


Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson
former New Orleans Councilmember-at-Large

Richard Campanella
geographer/Tulane University

Robert Cangelosi
architect/architectural historian

Dr. Raphael Cassimere
history professor

Mary Lou Christovich
author/historian

Dr. Robert Dupont
history professor

Clarke “Doc” Hawley
riverboat captain

George Hero, III
engineer

Walter Issacson
author

Ann Masson
architectural historian

Deacon John Moore
guitarist/bandleader

Dr. Lawrence Powell
history professor

Bruce Boyd Raeburn
executive director, Tulane’s Hogan Jazz Archive

Julia Reed
author

George Schmidt
artist/musician

Irma Thomas
Grammy award-winning singer

Gwen Thompkins
music show host/NPR commentator

Jason Weise
The Historic New Orleans Collection

Dr. Michael White
musician/jazz historian

Gordon “Tad” Wilson
attorney