"[The commander] had a ditch to be dug entirely around the City, and placed guard-houses at the four extremities. He organized for its defense many companies of city militia who mounted guard during the whole night. As there was more to fear in the grants and in the plantations than in the City, he fortified them with the most care…"
Reuben Gold Thwaites (ed.), Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610-1791, The Surrows Brothers Company, Cleveland, 1900, Lettre du père Mathurin Le Petit, t. 68, p. 186. (1730)


Development of the colony was carried out in several stages, and depended on a network of forts and military posts, as well as several villages in Illinois (Sainte-Geneviève, Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Prairie du Rocher, and Saint-Philippe) and two major towns in Lower Louisiana: Mobile and New Orleans.

Broutin, The Kaskaskias, project for a fort in Illinois, 1734
CAOM, colonies CA, C 13A.19, F°219
Broutin, The Kaskaskias, project for a fort in Illinois, 1734
CAOM, colonies CA, C 13A.19, F°219

Because of the low number of French colonists, forts were constructed in the immediate vicinity of friendly Indian tribes, thus making negotiation and trading easier. The children of the colony were placed in these tribes, in order to teach them the language and customs, and they were always well received. The major concessions were similarly located, and when this was not the case, they were given a small fort so that they could defend themselves. Several forts were also built at the outer edges of the colony, bordering the English (Fort of the Alabamas and Fort Tombigbee) and the Spanish (Fort Natchitoches). All were built of wood, with the exception of Fort Condé at Mobile (rebuilt in brick) and Fort de Chartres (which was reconstructed in stone).
The little town of Mobile was founded in 1702, and moved to its present site in 1711 following a flood. The first Mobile, built on a square plan designed by Iberville, consisted of wooden barracks and a small square fort that held a chapel. Mobile's larger successor was designed by the engineer Chevillot: most of the houses were of wood and brick, and Fort Condé occupied a central space which was left empty.

Devin, General plan and extension project for the city of Mobile in 1734
CAOM, C13A 19, fol.188
Devin, General plan and extension project for the city of Mobile in 1734
CAOM, C13A 19, fol.188

New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Bienville. The engineer Pauger was asked to draw up the plans, which became the most successful model of classical French urban design in America. Symmetrical, the town spreads out at the center of a curve at right angles to the Mississippi. The central axis is a large square, at the center of which is built the Saint Louis church, visible from afar on the river. For all Louisianans, it would quickly become "The City", the symbolic heart of the Creole spirit.

Le Blond de la Tour, Un des premiers projets de La Nouvelle Orléans
CAOM, DFC Louisiane, 6B/68d
Le Blond de la Tour, One of the first plans for New Orleans
CAOM, DFC Louisiane, 6B/68d


New Orleans