Robert Cavalier, Sieur de LaSalle began his expedition down the Mississippi River in 1682, claiming the entire Mississippi watershed in the name of France. La Salle Expedition II stopped in Kenner during the reenactment period from August 1976 - April 1977.
Cannes Brulee Era 1700:
1718 -- The French found New Orleans and marked "Cannes Brulee" on maps upriver in the area known today as the City of Kenner. French for "Burnt Canes", Cannes Brulee was a name given by explorers who observed natives burning cane to drive out wild game.
1720 -- Jean Baptiste Martin d'Artaguiette and Count Joseph Montespuiou d'Artagnan established two of the first plantations in the "Cannes Brulee" area on the Mississippi River.
1757 -- Sugar cane was introduced to the region by the Jesuits of Santa Domingo, other crops were indigo, wheat, beans and corn. River Cane still grows in Kenner. Visitors can see it at "Cannes Brulee -- Native American Center" in Rivertown (Jefferson Highway at Williams Boulevard).
Paddle Wheel Era 1800:
1776 -- William Kenner was born.
1799 -- At the age of 23, the Virginian of Scotch-Irish descent moved to New Orleans and became a prominent businessman and leader who was actively involved in Louisiana Purchase matters in 1803. Kenner married 14 year old Mary Minor, who had seven children, 4 of them sons, Mary died at age 27.
1823 -- A short time after his trusted business partner absconded with most of the company's assets, William Kenner died at the age of 47. His sons were left orphans at the ages of 15, 13, 11, & 10. They are as follows:
Philip Minor Kenner (1808-1862) - Owner of "Belle Grove Plantation" located near Jefferson Highway and Williams Boulevard and also "Pasture Plantation" located down river. He noted of the area's high and dry conditions during flood periods and later sold a portion of his property for a railroad planned from New Orleans to Jackson, Mississippi.
William Butler Kenner (1810-1853) - Owner of "Oakland Plantation" located upriver from "Belle Grove". He died at age 43 along with his 12-year-old son of Yellow Fever and was nearly broke at the time of his death due to some bad business decisions.
George Rappele Kenner (1812- 1853) - Ran the Ashland Plantation for a short time and relocated to Texas to introduce sugar cane.
Duncan Farrar Kenner (1813-1887) - Took ownership of his father's Ascension Parish plantation "Ashland".
1840's -- The Kenner sons acquired Oakland, Belle Grove and Pasture Plantations, which represented all of present day City of Kenner.
Railroad Era 1855:
A small portion of Kenner land was purchased for railroad
1855 -- City founded; map of future town of Kenner was completed by surveyor W. T. Thompson on March 2nd, which is considered Kenner's birthday; KENNERVILLE was the first town located on the New Orleans/Jackson Line; Coleman Iron Foundry was first industry
1862 -- Kenner placed under martial law by Confederacy
1865 -- Kenner was occupied by Union troops due to key location on river and railroad line. Coleman Foundry, which converted to making cannons and cannon balls, was shut down by Union forces and everything was dumped into river.
1867 -- Kenner charter filed (later found to be invalid); the era of small "truck farms" in Kennerville began after Civil War.
1870 -- First heavyweight boxing championship fight was held in Kenner on May 10.
1873 -- Kenner was incorporated on April 1st; Jefferson Parish Police Jury lost all power to levy taxes within City Limits. The Police Jury tried unsuccessfully to revoke the charter; therefore, they withdrew all funds. People began to leave Kenner (the only time in the city's history). Legally Kenner did not exist, police jury was in control for four years.
1886 -- More Italian and German families settled in the "Green Gold" fields, purchasing truck patches and growing every conceivable vegetable. Kenner dominated markets until the 1950's.
1899 -- First ferry, a two man row boat, crossed the Mississippi from the Kenner area
1908 -- Kenner residents went to Baton Rouge and gave back the City's charter and all City funds; records were then transferred to the Parish.
1913 -- Kenner citizens petitioned the state for another charter (the third in 45 years) and on December 13th, Governor Luther Hall proclaimed Kenner incorporated again as a "village"; Mayor Antoine E. Wattigny elected first mayor.
1914 -- Census revealed sufficient population for Kenner to get "town" designation. Construction of the Orleans/Kenner streetcar line began
1915-1931 -- Orleans/Kenner streetcar line operated between Rampart and Canal Street in New Orleans and Williams Boulevard and Jefferson Highway in Kenner. The line assisted with marketing Kenner produce at New Orlean's French Market.
1919 -- First electric power plant began operation
1924 -- First high school in Kenner established
1926 -- First paved highway (Airline Highway) marked the beginning of suburban Kenner growth
1928 -- First public water works
1929 -- First telephone service
Landing Wheels Era:
Moisant Airport site chosen in Kenner
1940 -- Kenner was chosen as the site for the New Orleans International Airport
1946 -- Airport was dedicated, population doubled in forties, tripled in fifties. Land development for residential use marked beginning of end for the "Golden Green" truck farming period in 1950's
1952 -- Kenner officially classified as a "city"; Trans-Match opened plant, eventually producing more than half of all matchsticks used in America
1954 -- Kenner Planning Commission created
1960 -- Population increased to 17,037
The airport was named in honor of pioneer aviator John Bovins Moisant of French/Canadian descent. Born in Chicago, he became the first pilot to fly between two cities, Paris to London in 1910. He came to New Orleans in December of 1910 to participate in an endurance flight from City Park to Harahan, his plane crashed en route, killing him.
The worst airport disaster was the crash of Pan Am Flight 759 on July 9,1982. The death toll was 154 (145 on the plane, 9 on the ground). The airliner crashed after experiencing severe wind shear upon takeoff, and cartwheeled through the Roosevelt subdivision. The plane cut a swath of destruction for five residential blocks, beginning on Fairway Dr. and 17th St. and finally coming to rest near Taylor and 17th Streets. The disaster remains listed in the top five all-time worst airline disasters in US history and among the top fifty worldwide.
Interstate Era 1970's:
1970's -- Interstate 10 sealed Kenner's course as a suburban development of New Orleans. Easy access created rapid development of residential neighborhoods, shopping malls and fast food establishments.
1972 -- Joseph Yenni passed Home Rule for Kenner
1979 -- Joseph Yenni became first Kennerite to become President of Jefferson Parish; Kenner population at 60,524 making it the 6th largest City in state
1980's -- City of Kenner set sights on visionary growth and quality of life matters. Recreational programs and community services expand scope of living in Kenner. Gyms, parks, museums, theatres began to dot the city landscape. Original Kennerville area targeted for urban renewal and marketed as "Rivertown". Veteran's Park was established next to City Hall in 1800 block of Williams Boulevard.
1983 -- Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in August for the Esplanade Shopping Mall, which proved to be one of the most successful centers in the Deep South.
1985 -- Kenner was twinned with LaSalle, Canada on September 17 due to its shared association with Robert Cavalier, Seiur de LaSalle.
1987 -- Rivertown attractions include: Historical Museum, Toy Train Museum, Rivertown Theatre and would soon add a Saints Hall of Fame Museum.
Wheels of Imagination Era 1990's:
1990's -- Visionary political leadership by the council and mayor produced a "City of Kenner" unlike any other in Louisiana. "Laketown" was the term given to the previously underdeveloped lakefront on Lake Pontchartrain. A new Convention Center named the Pontchartrain Center began construction and opened to rave reviews, a waterfront park and boat launch was developed and riverboat gaming came to the area with the opening of the Treasure Chest Casino (which boasts the best numbers of any such boat in the Southeast Louisiana region).
Mega superstores chose Kenner as sites for stores as more upscale residential developments bloom.
A major hospital opened, becoming known as "Kenner Regional Medical Center" as expanded city services and street improvements were announced; Rivertown continues to attract lots of news media attention through the opening of new exhibits and special programs. Rivertown now features six museums, three theatres, art gallery, restaurants, shops and the only life-size prototype of the NASA Space Station.
For a chronological history of Kenner's Mayors as elected under the modern charter, click here.