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Upcoming Events

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17th Annual Martin…

Jan 29 - Mar 7, 2015
Join us for the 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Art… more

Alliance Francaise

Jan 29 - 31, 2015
Learn French with the Alliance Française- now in METAIRIE! Our next… more

Andrew Jackson: Hero…

Jan 29 - Mar 29, 2015
THNOC's exhibition tracks Jackson's rise from humble beginnings to immortality… more

Artist Spotlight…

Jan 29 - Mar 31, 2015
New Orleans-based woodturning artist Tom Dunne will be the featured artist in… more

BODY ELECTRIC Group…

Jan 29 - Mar 1, 2015
Inspired by Walt Whitman's "I Sing the Body Electric", this… more

House of Blues…

Jan 29 - 29, 2015
Deputy combines island sounds with drum and base. His performances are unique… more

Le Petit Theatre…

Jan 29 - 30, 2015
Broadway's first rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice illuminates the… more

Maple Leaf Bar…

Jan 29 - 29, 2015
Come join us for Johnny Vidacovich, Mike Dillon & Brian Haas. more

Music at the Mint…

Jan 29 - 29, 2015
Vocal ensemble. more

Ogden After Hours…

Jan 29 - 29, 2015
Join us for Ogden After Hours featuring Jonathan Freilich. more

The Columns Hotel…

Jan 29 - Mar 26, 2015
The Historical Columns Hotel with its "sophiscicated atmosphere" and… more

The Gasperi…

Jan 29 - Feb 22, 2015
Richard Gasperi opened Gasperi Gallery in the French Quarter in 1980.… more

The New Orleans…

Jan 29 - Nov 18, 2015
Marvel Universe LIVE! will captivate audiences with an authentic and original… more

The Trio feat. Johnny…

Jan 29 - 29, 2015
Join us for The Trio feat. Johnny Vidacovich & special guests. … more

Warehouse Grille…

Jan 29 - 29, 2015
Warehouse Grille, presents a live performance by Troy Sawyer and The Elementz… more

Big Chief Bo Dollis…

Jan 30 - 30, 2015
 Join us for Big Chief Bo Dollis coffin visitation Friday at the Historic… more

Friday Nights at NOMA

Jan 30 - 30, 2015
Every Friday evening, come to the museum for activities and entertainment from… more

House of Blues…

Jan 30 - 30, 2015
Slippery When Wet is a Bon Jovi tribute band, titled after Bon Jovi's third… more

In The Mood- A 1940’S…

Jan 30 - 30, 2015
Hop aboard the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" to "Tuxedo… more

Lauren Sturm - Bayou…

Jan 30 - 30, 2015
Performs solo acoustic piano. more

17th Annual Martin…

Jan 29 - Mar 7, 2015
Join us for the 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Art… 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/.