After the Civil War the city boundaries expanded rapidly. The city of Lafayette had been absorbed in 1852, and Algiers and Jefferson City were annexed in 1870 as the fifth and sixth districts; two years later Carrollton became the seventh district, rounding out the present boundaries of the city and parish.
The Faubourg Ste. Marie extended at first only to Delord Street (Howard Avenue), but soon reached Felicity Road. The city of Lafayette began at Felicity Road and extended to Toledano Street, from which line Jefferson City extended to Upperline Street. Several plantations, including the present Audubon Park, lay between Jefferson City and Carrollton, which began at Lowerline Street. These boundaries included many smaller communities such as Hurstville, Greenville, and Burthville.
The city developed much more slowly toward the lake because the swamp had to be cleared and drained. Bayou Road led to the old French settlements on Bayou St. John near the present head of Esplanade Avenue. Faubourg Trémé developed back of Congo Square in the 1830's, and the building of the Pontchartrain Railroad in 1831 developed Elysian Fields Avenue and Milneburg. There was also a road along Bayou St. John to Spanish Fort. In the 1840's Common Street was the chief road to the cemeteries and Metairie Race Track. A bridge crossed the New Basin Canal at this point and a shell road, a favorite 'speedway,' led to Lake End (now West End). Until about 1858 Canal Street still had an old plank-covered canal from Claiborne on, and was slow in developing.
The present thickly settled Dryades Market section was a swamp with a dirty shallow lake called Gormley's Basin until about 1870. All of the residential sections of the city beyond Claiborne Avenue, with the above exceptions, were swamp tracts and dairy farms until the drainage system was built and their development began -- about 1900.
In 1878 the city was again visited by its ancient and devastating scourge -- yellow fever. Panic ensued as thousands of inhabitants left the city for the Gulf Coast. The mortality rate among children was pitiable -in one block there were 105 cases, with an average of five deaths per day. In all more than 3800 people died.
After five years of brilliant effort, in 1879 Captain James B. Eads succeeded in overcoming the greatest single obstacle in the commercial development of New Orleans -- shallow water at the mouth of the Mississippi. A depth of from twenty-six to thirty feet was secured by a system of jetties which forced the current to deepen its channels and carry the silt out into the Gulf of Mexico. Incidentally, this was accomplished along lines similar to those proposed by Adrien de Pauger more than one hundred and fifty years before.
After the jetties proved successful, railroad expansion began. Legislative franchises for railroads being obtained, new lines were constructed. Rates favored the railroads, and the steamboat business, although active and important up to the Spanish-American War, steadily declined. Five large trunk lines entered New Orleans by 1880, and a new era in the commercial development of the city began. The volume of railroad business increased from 937,634 tons in 1880 to 5,500,000 tons in 1899.
In 1882 Canal Street was illuminated by electric lights. Royal Street came next in 1884, while the system was extended to include practically the entire city in 1886.
In 1884 and 1885 the Cotton Centennial Exposition, popularly called the 'World's Fair,' was held in New Orleans on the present site of Audubon Park. Hundreds of thousands of visitors were drawn to the city. The Exposition did much to bring about a better understanding between the North and South, and gave an added impetus to the city's fast recovering commerce.
In 1892 the first electric street-car was operated along St. Charles Avenue. Within a year or so several electric lines were in service, supplanting the horse cars which had been used for years.
The legislature of 1868, which was made up almost entirely of carpetbaggers, had granted a twenty-five-year charter to the Louisiana Lottery, in exchange for a yearly payment of $40,000 to the New Orleans Charity Hospital. Renewal of this charter became a major political issue. It was felt that the proposed fee of $1,000,000, to be paid to the State annually was not sufficient for the privileges of running what was generally conceded to be a 'gold mine,' to which the company replied that 93 per cent of its revenue was drawn from sources outside of Louisiana. Au article granting the company a three-year lease was put into the State Constitution in 1892, but the lottery was definitely outlawed by both the Federal and State Governments in 1895, after which it operated in Honduras as the Honduras Lottery Company.
Between 1890 and 1895 a semi-private organization called the Sewerage and Drainage Company undertook the construction and operation of the city's first extensive system of sewage disposal. The company went into receivership in 1895, however, and that important phase of public improvement lagged for several years.