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Upcoming Events

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"America's Wartime…

Oct 22 - 22, 2014
Known for close harmonies, synchronized dance steps, and exuberant performances… more

25th Annual New…

Oct 22 - 23, 2014
The New Orleans Film Festival- Louisiana's only industry-recognized film… more

GALATOIRE’S 33 BAR &…

Oct 22 - 22, 2014
Galatoire's 33 Bar & Steak will present a beer dinner featuring New Belgium… more

Irvin Mayfield's Jazz…

Oct 22 - Nov 26, 2014
Join us at The Irvin Mayfield Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta Hotel for… more

Lagniappe…

Oct 22 - 22, 2014
Join local author Sally Asher as she discusses her new book Hope and New… more

Maple Leaf Bar…

Oct 22 - 22, 2014
Join us for live entertainment featuring YOJIMBO. more

THE GUANTÁNAMO PUBLIC…

Oct 22 - 30, 2014
This traveling exhibit examines the history of the U.S. naval base in… more

The Mysterious…

Oct 22 - Nov 23, 2014
You are invited to the Mysterious Wisterias Plantation for an evening of music… more

The Ritz-Carlton, New…

Oct 22 - 22, 2014
The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans and NOLA Brewing Company have joined forces to… more

The Victory Belles…

Oct 22 - Nov 19, 2014
Noted for their close harmonies and synchronized dance steps, the Andrews… more

The Victory Belles…

Oct 22, 2014 - Jun 24, 2015
Noted for their close harmonies and synchronized dance steps, the Andrews… more

Tricks... Treats...…

Oct 22 - Nov 8, 2014
Kids won't want to miss this strange tour when we pull away the mask and see… more

White Glove Wednesdays

Oct 22 - 22, 2014
It's one thing to read on an exhibit label that an infantryman's pack in World… more

31st Annual Halloween…

Oct 23 - 26, 2014
Join us for the 31st annual Halloween New Orleans, a weekend-long LGBT… more

Greater Baton Rouge…

Oct 23 - Nov 2, 2014
Carnival rides, food, music, kids' activities, animal shows, games, exhibits. more

Henry Turner Jr. &…

Oct 23 - 23, 2014
The hometown favorites are well known for their style of music that encompasses… more

Jazz in the Park

Oct 23 - 30, 2014
Jazz in the Park returns for nine straight weeks this fall,  with a… more

Jazz in the Park…

Oct 23 - 23, 2014
Jazz in the Park returns for nine straight weeks this fall,  with a… more

Loyola Jazz…

Oct 23 - 23, 2014
 The legendary jazz trumpeter Leroy Jones is known to music lovers as the… more

Preview Reception:…

Oct 23 - 23, 2014

"America's Wartime…

Oct 22 - 22, 2014
Known for close harmonies, synchronized dance steps, and exuberant performances… 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/.