Say you're strolling through New Orleans discussing with your companions the merits of beignets over donuts, and there to the left is a stunning example of traditional Southern building design. Rather than risk mistaking a classic American townhouse for a Creole townhouse, take a few notes from our Crescent City architecture primer and demonstrate your architectural expertise.
What you'll see: These signature single-story homes with steeply pitched roofs have front porches that practically touch the street.
Where you'll see it: French Quarter
What you should say: "You know, the full front porch and high-gabled roof are a distinct blend of Caribbean and French-Canadian design; interesting combo, don't you think?"
What you'll see: Look for a narrow brick or stucco three-story structure, asymmetrical windows and an iron balcony on the second or third floor.
Where you'll see it: Central Business District or Lower Garden District
What you should say: "See all that fine iron detailing on the balcony? The intricate ornamentation style is pre-Civil War."
What you'll see: With shops below and homes above, these buildings are the perfect arrangement for the thriving urban center. Arched windows distinguish Creole from American townhouses.
Where you'll see it: French Quarter.
What you should say: "After the great fires of 1788 and 1794 torched most freestanding homes in this district, these brick and stuccoed-brick structures emerged with strong Spanish influences."
What you'll see: Keep an eye out for the one-and-a-half-story homes raised slightly above street-level and a porch stretching all the way across the front with columns.
Where you'll see it: Garden District, Uptown or Carrollton
What you should say: "I don't know if you know this, but these homes are basically urbanized version of French-Colonial plantations."
What you'll see: These are plentiful and easy to spot - long and narrow single-story homes with lacey Victorian embellishment beneath the large front eve.
Where you'll see it: Throughout the city
What you should say: "The term shotgun originates from the idea that if all the interior doors are all open and aligned, you can shoot clear through the house even though there's no hallway."
What you'll see: Telltale elements include stacked and covered front porches, stately box columns and a front door off to one side.
Where you'll see it: Lower Garden District, Garden District, Uptown or Esplanade Ridge
What you should say: "Although they look similar to the townhouse styles, these homes built in New Orleans' early suburbs are set back much farther from the sidewalk."
Find more resources on New Orleans architecture at the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans website at prcno.org.