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Plague Tour: The Most Enthralling New Orleans History Tour


What’s the newest, most exciting New Orleans history tour? Guests are raving about Unique Nola Tours’ Plague and Pestilence Tour. Though the subject matter may seem grim, folks are enjoying the incisive and relevant subject. Which epidemics came to New Orleans and how did we deal with them?


The tour is not so much a tour as a talk show, hosted by our expert guides and the guests are you, the visitors. We tell the same story eight times: disease comes to town, everyone blames God and the immigrants, the smart people are ridiculed and then we get herd immunity, waiting for the next one to come to town. And here’s the thing – we don’t talk about Covid!


A key attraction to this New Orleans history tour is the unique information. Rather than the same ol’ same ol’ stuff most visitors get on the canned-type tours, this is relevant, intense insight. As a matter of fact, many health professionals seek out the Plague tour. In the beginning, they want to hear what we have to say, and by the end, they are impressed and inspired by the heroes that preceded them in the struggle against not only disease, but public unpreparedness, non-medical opposition and just plain misinformation.


Old School Medicine


This tour is a fascinating look at public health, old school medicine, politics, religion, prejudice and the heroes that revolutionized health safety. We walk by the very places where people gathered dangerously during Spanish Flu. We stroll along the river, where thousands of steamships used to dock exposing us to Smallpox and even Bubonic Plague! New Orleans even withstood the Biblical scourge of Leprosy.


We walk down the area in the French Quarter where an illegal red light district operated for years, creating a breeding ground for STDs. This is the infamous Gallatin Street where gangs gathered and sin-seekers came in the night for drinking, gambling and, of course, illegal carnality. What was the dark side of morality and sex like in the 1830s? Well, if anyone knows, it would be New Orleans.


Did you know we had a legalized Red Light District for a while? Elegant mansions with marble columns and red velvet wallpaper hosted upscale gentlemen who wanted to relax with a girl on their lap, smoke a cigar, talk about horse racing and boxing, and then retire upstairs for some illicit activities. For a grand decade or so, New Orleans was a little more sinful (at least legally) and we talk about how that epoch went down.


We cover Latrobe Park, named for two heroes that gave their lives trying to prevent Cholera in our city. Being a river port, the Crescent City has had its share of debilitating, water-borne plagues. What did we do in the face of a legendary killer like Cholera? How do you keep people healthy when the very source of water might be contaminated?


The biggest pestilence to attack us every summer would easily be Yellow Fever. Each year, we would lose dozens, hundreds, even thousands of victims. In 1853, we lost close to 8,000 citizens. There were so many dead, we couldn’t possibly bury them all. On the tour, we go to the very street where thousands of bodies were stacked “like firewood.”


This tour is a favorite of health care professionals, doctors and social workers who often share their expertise and stories. The experience is a constantly evolving project where the guests and the guide interact, fleshing out this rarely talked about subject. After our recent international health emergency, there is much to be learned about how society reacted in the old days. How the mistakes of earlier times inform the next wave of medical innovation. The good news is that we have evolved into a modern medical response, the bad news is, we haven’t evolved that much.


New Orleans History Tour


This New Orleans history tour covers the birth of essential and influential ideas. The beginnings of anesthesia for example. At first, it was just a shot of whiskey and a bite on a leather strop. Imagine the joy and relief of doctors when early pain-covering processes were discovered. But at what cost?


Every medical breakthrough that we take for granted today found its inception through the sacrifice and incidence of the many plagues that came through New Orleans and the rest of the world. We have always been on the front line of virulent outbreaks, so this tour really shines a light on the outstanding works by brave and loyal doctors and nurses.


No other company offers a New Orleans history tour like this. Our guides study this subject and can lay out the details in a detailed, entertaining way. The walk follows the Mississippi River and strolls through the French Market, Jackson Square and along Royal Street. The setting is lovely, the subject is intriguing and the experience will be remembered for a lifetime.