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Upcoming Events

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30 Americans

Apr 18 - Jun 15, 2014
30 Americans showcases works by many of the most important African American… more

Civic Theatre plus …

Apr 18 - 18, 2014
Join us for Mike Birbiglia "Thank god for Jokes" Comedy tour 2014. more

Georga Porter Jr. &…

Apr 18 - 18, 2014
George Porter, Jr. is best known as the bassist of The Meters, along with Art… more

The Andrews Brothers

Apr 18 - 26, 2014
Mistaken identities, madcap comedy, romance and miscal treasures fill this… more

The Contemporary Arts…

Apr 18 - 18, 2014
Join the CAC and Junebug Productions for an evening of poetry—during… more

Walter Wolfman…

Apr 18 - 18, 2014
Walter “Wolfman” Washington has been an icon on the New Orleans… more

"Run For It - Run For…

Apr 19 - 19, 2014
“Run For It – Run for Spot!” Crescent City Classic… more

An Evening with Chita…

Apr 19 - 19, 2014
Chita Rivera is a living Broadway legend and a two-time Tony winner who… more

Crescent City Classic

Apr 19 - 19, 2014
With top runners from throughout the world participating in previous years, the… more

Earth Day Festival…

Apr 19 - 19, 2014
Join us in celebrating Earth Day with music, food, art, local green vendors,… more

Family Workshop:…

Apr 19 - 19, 2014
Don’t touch that dial! In this fun-filled family workshop, kids and… more

Historic Saturday…

Apr 19 - Nov 22, 2014
One of the keys to understanding NOLA’s past, present, and future is to… more

Living History Corps

Apr 19 - 19, 2014
The Museum’s World War II re-enactors, collectively known as the Living… more

LIVING LEGEND CHITA…

Apr 19 - 19, 2014
***Two time Tony winner and Broadway’s original Anita in “West Side… more

Southern Rep, Stage…

Apr 19 - 19, 2014
Southern Rep, the Stage Door Canteen at the National WWII Museum and… more

Victory Corps Saturday

Apr 19 - 19, 2014
During D-Day on June 6, 1944, the Naval Construction Battalions called… more

Double Violin Concert…

Apr 20 - 20, 2014
Performing Bach's violin concerto and Vivaldi's double violin concerti. more

Early Modern Faces: …

Apr 20 - Jun 29, 2014
This exhibition brings together nearly ninety Old Master paintings and prints… more

Easter Brunch at the…

Apr 20 - 20, 2014
Join us on Easter Sunday, April 20th in the hotel's elegant Grand Ballroom for… more

Irving "Honey"…

Apr 20 - 20, 2014
Various Mardi Gras Indian tribes will line up  for the 1st Annual Irving… more

30 Americans

Apr 18 - Jun 15, 2014
30 Americans showcases works by many of the most important African American… 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/.