New Orleans has been decimated from time to time by disease, fire, and hurricanes. In 1788, 900 buildings burned to the ground because the church bells used to summon firefighters had been stilled in deference to Good Friday. It is the birthplace of jazz and the Mardi Gras, and at one time, was described as having too many banks and ballrooms and too few bathrooms and Protestant churches. Since its founding in 1718, New Orleans has balanced disaster with joy.
Frederick Law Olmsted was beguiled by the scents and sounds of New Orleans, and Mark Twain said of the city, "No houses could be in better harmony with their surroundings, or more pleasing to the eye . . ." There have always been diverse opinions about a place that has equally diverse architectural styles - Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Moorish, and Eclectic. Lost New Orleans provides a history of the cultural, social, and commercial life of the city from its beginning.