They came in part because its warm climate was reputed to be more comfortable for Mediterranean peoples than the cold-winter climate of the Northeast. The Gulf shrimping industry also drew fishermen from Sicily and Southern Italy who were familiar with shrimping. In addition, New Orleans had from an early date a highly mixed population. It had originally been established as a French colony, still commemorated by the city's famed French Quarter. From colonial times on, New Orleans also had a substantial free African-American population. Thus, early immigrants from Italy found there a varied population and Latin-flavored, Catholic culture into which they could fit more easily than into the still largely Anglo-Saxon Protestant northeast.
The great majority of these early Italian and Sicilian immigrants to New Orleans were, as elsewhere, hardworking and law-abiding people who were looking only for a better life for themselves. However, the same social and hist