The French Quarter retains much of its original character from the 18th and 19th centuries because it is among the oldest protected historic districts in the nation. The Laura C. Hudson Visitor Center on the eastern edge of the French Quarter features an extensive exhibition of the history and conflict that surrounded the founding and shaping of present-day New Orleans and the French Quarter. Life-sized murals transport the visitor into the swamps, rivers and bayous of southern Louisiana. Exhibits highlight the significance and importance of the Mississippi River to the city, alongside exhibits of native plants and wildlife. Interactive displays introduce guests to the beginnings of Louisiana food, folkways and festivals.