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Upcoming Events


"Let Them Eat Cake!"…

Oct 26 - Nov 9, 2016
Join us for Exhibition for "Let Them Eat Cake!"  Fine Art… more

Art is the Driving…

Oct 26 - Dec 30, 2016
Art has a power that reaches beyond personal visual expression. This exhibition… more

Comedy Gold hosted by…

Oct 26, 2016 - Jan 07, 2026
In The Voodoo Garden, All Ages (content may not be appropriate for all ages).… more

Danse Macabre- The…

Oct 26 - 30, 2016
The Historic New Orleans Collection will be offering a special Halloween-themed… more

David Hansen's Garden…

Oct 26, 2016
Since 2006, Hansen's Garden District Jazz Trio has performed every night at… more

Dean's List

Oct 26 - Dec 28, 2016
Dean's List is a variety show of a most unusual kind. This show blends improv,… more

Education Gallery…

Oct 26 - Nov 27, 2016
Artists and Sense of Place Residency Show featuring artwork created by students… more

Evenings with Enrique

Oct 26 - 26, 2016
Join us for Evenings with Enrique! This series features entertainment, and… more

Happy's Running Club…

Oct 26 - Dec 28, 2016
Join us every Wednesday  for a  fun 5k or close at the Happy's Irish… more

Historic New Orleans…

Oct 26, 2016 - Apr 09, 2017
The Historic New Orleans Collection is gearing up for an exciting new… more

Le Meridien New…

Oct 26 - 26, 2016
Join us for "Art + Aperitifs," a fun, interactive painting class… more

Light Up the Night…

Oct 26 - 26, 2016
Visiting the city, whether from afar or from just across the bridge? Looking to… more

Live Opera…

Oct 26 - 26, 2016
Opera Returns to Bourbon Street. Enjoy FREE opera entertainment at the Puccini… more

Ogden Museum of…

Oct 26 - Nov 8, 2016
Each year, the Ogden Museum celebrates Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead),… more

Ogden Museum of…

Oct 26 - 26, 2016
Be a key member of the Ogden Museum team by serving as a Docent! An Ogden… more

Opera on Tap

Oct 26 - 26, 2016
Now in its 10th season, Opera on Tap presents the finest young local and… more

Oscar and The Blues…

Oct 26 - Dec 28, 2016
This bands plays Blues music, which guest musicians will sit in and play with… more

Royal Carriages…

Oct 26 - 26, 2016
Join us in celebrating Royal Carriages 75th Anniversary. For  the first… more

Saenger Theatre…

Oct 26 - 30, 2016
Join us for the Illusionists- Live from Broadway. This mind blowing spectacular… more

The Maison Presents -…

Oct 26, 2016 - Jul 26, 2017
The New Orleans Jazz Vipers play a free dinner show at The Maison every… more

"Let Them Eat Cake!"…

Oct 26 - Nov 9, 2016
Join us for Exhibition for "Let Them Eat Cake!"  Fine 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.