The History of New Orleans:
Talking about this city, people might first mention the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Yet the spirit of New Orleans is best represented by the yearly festival of Mardi Gras. Having visited this city, I can honestly say that it is one of the few that truly lives up to the title of “historic.” Also known as the Vieux Carré, which means “old square,” the French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans.
How to Explore the French Quarter
There are a couple ways to experience this central area. You can purchase a tour bus pass which allows you to hop on and off the various tourist buses which circle the city. Each bus has a trained tour guide who will point out all the key points of interest and keep you entertained as you ride around New Orleans. The best way to experience the French Quarter is on foot.
There are daily walking tours which provide a slower pace and many more details about the specific blocks and cultural locations. Of course, you can always explore the Quarter yourself, as it is laid out in a grid pattern which is pretty easy to learn.
A National Historic Landmark
The homes and buildings in the French Quarter are protected by law. Even if you purchase or own one of the houses, it is forbidden to change the outside appearance at all. Sometimes it is necessary, due to wear and tear, but a strong effort is made to preserve the original design as much as possible.
The architecture of the homes in this neighborhood is entrancing – with wrought iron balconies and cobblestone corridors, you will feel immersed in the culture. There are Creole Townhouses which contain a shop on the ground floor and housing space above as well as ‘shotgun’ style cottages. The decorative influences come from the French and Spanish cultures of the colonial past. Tall, narrow brick houses are quite common with many second floors having a balcony over the street below.
One unique element we learned about and witnessed is the open air design of the homes. They were constructed in a way that allowed line-of-sight from the front all the way to the back of the house. There were no obstructing walls in the interior, which allowed for air flow and for passersby to see the backyard gardens of the residents, which they enjoyed showing off.
Other Sights and Sounds
Jackson Square – A huge park covering a whole block, this site offers carriage rides, walking tours and is usually bustling with live musicians and street vendors/artists. St. Louis Cathedral is the backdrop for this area; make sure you take a look inside.
Bourbon Street – The most famous street in the Quarter is rich with clubs, pubs, restaurants and shops. During busy tourist times, this street is a 24-hour party, with live music everywhere you look, inside and out.
Canal Street – The widest street in the country serves as “middle ground” between areas. Here
you will find a wide-open path between sections of the city, as well as numerous hotels, restaurants and accommodations.
Are you ready to visit New Orleans yet?
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