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Upcoming Events


7th Annual Pumpkin…

Oct 6 - 31, 2015
The Lutcher/Gramercy Lions Club presents its 7th Annual Pumpkin Patch at the… more

A Conversation with…

Oct 6 - 6, 2015
Join us for a conversation with Lynda Benglis, artist, Katie Pfohl, Curator of… more

A Louisiana Parlor:…

Oct 6 - 11, 2015
This exhibition is in celebration of the acquisition of a superb Rococo Revival… more

Ashe Cultural Arts…

Oct 6 - Nov 12, 2015
The Dinerral Shavers Educational Fund is proud to introduce its newest program,… more

Baby Arts Play! at…

Oct 6 - 6, 2015
Instill a love of art at a young age through a guided, hands-on gallery… more

City Park Pumpkin…

Oct 6 - 25, 2015
Get ready for some nonstop fall fun at New Orleans' City Park! Located at City… more

Clyde & Iggy

Oct 6 - Dec 31, 2015
Join us for the local musical duo Clyde & Iggy.  Their repertoire… more

Collective Media…

Oct 6 - 25, 2015
Join Longue Vue for the first opening of its three-part "Collective… more

Hell Yes Fest

Oct 6 - 11, 2015
HUKA Entertainment and The New Movement are proud to announce the 4th Annual… more

Longue Vue House and…

Oct 6 - 11, 2015
For the 10th Anniversary of the storm, Longue Vue will commemorate the revival… more

Maple Leaf Bar…

Oct 06, 2015 - Sep 27, 2016
Join us for live entertainment featuring the Grammy Award winning ReBirth Brass… more

Newcomb Art Museum of…

Oct 06, 2015 - Jan 03, 2016
Join us for the  Exhibition: "A Shared Space: KAWS, Karl Wirsum,… more

The Foundation…

Oct 6 - 30, 2015
Join us at the Foundation Gallery for  House: Group Exhibition with Andrew… more

The Historic New…

Oct 06, 2015 - Jan 09, 2016
The Historic New Orleans Collection marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane… more

The Photography of…

Oct 06, 2015 - Mar 01, 2016
The Photography of Modernist Cuisine: The Exhibition, a collection of over 50… more

The Sweat Social…

Oct 6 - Dec 20, 2015
Designed for wellness travelers visiting New Orleans, the Sweat Social offers… more

alt-J Concert

Oct 7 - 7, 2015
alt-J is coming to Champions Square. With the release of their sophomore full… more

Lakefront Arena…

Oct 7 - 7, 2015
Get ready New Orleans as Brand New arrives at the Lakefront Arena along with… more

Noontime Talk with…

Oct 7 - 7, 2015
Join Dr. Catherine Clinton, Denman Chair of American History at the University… more

Saenger Theater…

Oct 7 - 7, 2015
THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, the provocative and wickedly funny theatrical adaptation… more

7th Annual Pumpkin…

Oct 6 - 31, 2015
The Lutcher/Gramercy Lions Club presents its 7th Annual Pumpkin Patch at 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.