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"Mysterious…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
You are invited to the Mysterious Wisterias Plantation for an evening of music… more

"Prospect.3: Notes…

Oct 31, 2014 - Jan 25, 2015
Prospect New Orleans, the International Contemporary Art Biennial,  will… more

16th Annual NNUAL…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
VOODOOFEST is our FREE annual festival, held EVERY Halloween, which celebrates… more

Andrew Jackson: Hero…

Oct 31, 2014 - Mar 29, 2015
THNOC's exhibition tracks Jackson's rise from humble beginnings to immortality… more

Anne Rice's Vampire…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
Join us for the 26th Annual Vampire Ball featuring Anne Rice  Lestat… more

Bucktober Fridays

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
Every Friday in October, Deanie's Seafood Restaurant delivers live music and… more

Crawloween at …

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium invites guests to celebrate Halloween… more

Fishbone +…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
Celebrating 25+ groundbreaking years, FISHBONE has been trailblazing their way… more

Friends of the…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
Friends of the Cabildo, support organization for the Louisiana State Museum,… more

Fright Night at the…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
Joinj us for Fright Night at the Carver. $500.00 Costume Contest Starring… more

Ghostly Galavant:…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
Join us for the  Eat, Drink,  and Be Scary Costume Party  set… more

Greater Baton Rouge…

Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2014
Carnival rides, food, music, kids' activities, animal shows, games, exhibits. more

JPAS Presents Waiting…

Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2014
JPAS presents the hit musical comedy all about working in the service industry,… more

K.L. Bone featured at…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
Combining her creative writing experience and advanced graduate education in… more

Maple Leaf Bar…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
Join us for live entertainment featuring Oteiloween! with lots of special guests more

New Orleans Halloween…

Oct 31 - Nov 1, 2014
If you thought that the only time of the year for great entertainment in New… more

NORDC Movies in the…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
NORDC Movies in the Park screening of "Space Jam" on Friday, October… more

Sacred to the Memory…

Oct 31 - Nov 17, 2014
Showcasing both the historic Hermann-Grima House museum and St. Louis Cemetery… more

Southern Rep presents…

Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2014
In a remote cabin deep in the woods, an old crone spins a spellbinding tale… more

The End is Near: The…

Oct 31 - Nov 1, 2014
The House of Shock Haunted House and Halloween Festival launches its final… more

"Mysterious…

Oct 31 - 31, 2014
You are invited to the Mysterious Wisterias Plantation for an evening of music… 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/.