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Bustout Burlesque

Aug 22 - 22, 2014
Bustout Burlesque is an authentic 1950s-style burlesque show, recreating the… more

COOLinary New…

Aug 22 - 31, 2014
It is going to be a delicious summer!  Throughout the whole month of… more

Crescent City Lights…

Aug 22 - 24, 2014
The Crescent City Lights Youth Theater summer season (in partnership with… more

Maple Leaf Bar…

Aug 22 - 22, 2014
Join us for live entertainment featuring Groovesect. more

Mark of the Feminine

Aug 22 - Oct 4, 2014
Curator Regine Basha's Mark of the Feminine is the first in a series of… more

New Orleans Museum of…

Aug 22 - 22, 2014
Chefs of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group look forward to demonstrating their… more

Preservation Jazz…

Aug 22 - 22, 2014
Live New Orleans Jazz Music Nightly! more

True Colors Exhibition

Aug 22 - 29, 2014
This exhibition aims to represent people of all sexualities, genders, races and… more

28th Annual…

Aug 23 - 23, 2014
Join us for the 28th Annual Mid Summer Mardi Gras. Presented by the Krewe of… more

Abita Springs Opry at…

Aug 23 - 30, 2014
Two bands - Three Hours - Five Saturdays First band plays approx 12 noon… more

Abita Springs Opry in…

Aug 23 - 30, 2014
Join us every Saturday in August for The Abita Springs Opry concert… more

Blazin10 Presents A…

Aug 23 - 23, 2014
Join us for a Trunk Show Featuring Kano Branon - (Designer & Stylist of… more

Brewsiana - Craft…

Aug 23 - 23, 2014
Cheers to the best of South Louisianas brews, bands, and bites. BREWS: 21… more

Champions Square…

Aug 23 - 23, 2014
Jake Owen is coming to Bold Sphere Music at Champions Square  for his… more

Crosby, Stills & Nash

Aug 23 - 23, 2014
David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash unite as "three… more

Filthy Linen Night

Aug 23 - 23, 2014
Come down and Support Frenchmen Art and Businessfor Filthy Linen Night! This… more

Free Kinder Garden at…

Aug 23 - 23, 2014
Play, learn and grow in this hands-on introduction to the world of gardens for… more

HOUSE OF BLUES HOSTS…

Aug 23 - 23, 2014
House of Blues New Orleans announces the 1st annual Brewsiana - Craft Beer and… more

Production Assistant…

Aug 23 - 24, 2014
PA Bootcamp is back. NOVAC along with the Mayor's Office of Cultural Economy,… more

Swingin' at the…

Aug 23 - 23, 2014
A sizzling new show by The National WWII Museum's own Victory Big Band!… more

Bustout Burlesque

Aug 22 - 22, 2014
Bustout Burlesque is an authentic 1950s-style burlesque show, recreating the… more

Architecture & Culture

Bayou St. John

Architectural Vignettes

New Orleans, with its richly mottled old buildings, its sly, sophisticated - sometimes almost disreputable - air, and its Hispanic-Gallic traditions, has more the flavor of an old European capital than an American city. Townhouses in the French Quarter, with their courtyards and carriageways, are thought by some scholars to be related on a small scale to certain Parisian "hotels" - princely urban residences of the 17th and 18th centuries. Visitors particularly remember the decorative cast-iron balconies that cover many of these townhouses like ornamental filigree cages.

European influence is also seen in the city's famous above-ground cemeteries. The practice of interring people in large, richly adorned aboveground tombs dates from the period when New Orleans was under Spanish rule. These hugely popular "cities of the dead" have been and continue to be an item of great interest to visitors. Mark Twain, noting that New Orleanians did not have conventional below-ground burials, quipped that "few of the living complain and none of the other."

French Quarter Balcony

One of the truly amazing aspects of New Orleans architecture is the sheer number of historic homes and buildings per square mile. Orleanians never seem to replace anything. Consider this: Uptown, the City's largest historic district, has almost 11,000 buildings, 82 percent of which were built before 1935 - truly a "time warp."

The spine of Uptown, and much of New Orleans, is the city's grand residential showcase, St. Charles Avenue, which the novel A Confederacy of Dunces aptly describes: "The ancient oaks of St. Charles Avenue arched over the avenue like a canopy...St. Charles Avenue must be the loveliest place in the world. From time to time...passed the slowing rocking streetcars that seemed to be leisurely moving toward no special designations, following their route through the old mansions on either side...everything looked so calm, so prosperous."

The streetcars in question, the St. Charles Avenue line, represent the nation's only surviving historic streetcar system. All of its electric cars were manufactured by the Perley Thomas Company between 1922 and 1924 and are still in use. Hurricane Katrina flood waters caused severe damage to the steel tracks along the entire uptown and Carrollton route and had to be totally replaced and re-electrified. The cars themselves survived and are included in the National Register of Historic Places. New Orleanians revere them as a national treasure.

Unique Housing for a Unique City 

Creole cottages and shotgun houses dominate the scene in many New Orleans neighborhoods. Both have a murky ancestry. The Creole cottage, two rooms wide and two or more deep under a generous pitched roof with a front overhang or gallery, is thought to have evolved from various European and Caribbean forms.

The shotgun house is one room wide and two, three or four rooms deep, under a continuous gable roof. As legend has it, the name was suggested by the fact that because the rooms and doors line up, one can fire a shotgun through the house without hitting anything.

French Quarter Balcony 2 250x250

Some scholars have suggested that shotguns evolved from ancient African "long-houses," built here by refugees from the Haitian Revolution, but no one really knows.

It is true that shotguns represent a distinctively Southern house type. They are also found in the form of plantation quarters houses. Unlike shotgun houses in much of the South, which are fairly plain, New Orleans shotguns fairly bristle with Victorian jigsaw ornament, especially prominent, florid brackets. Indeed, in many ways, New Orleans shotguns are as much a signature of the city as the French Quarter.

New Orleans' architectural character is unlike that of any other American city. A delight to both natives and visitors, it presents such a variety that even after many years of study, one can still find things unique and undiscovered.

This material may be reproduced for editorial purposes of promoting New Orleans. Please attribute stories to New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau. 2020 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130 504-566-5019. http://www.neworleanscvb.com/.