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Upcoming Events

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17th Annual Martin…

Mar 2 - 7, 2015
Join us for the 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Art… more

Andrew Jackson: Hero…

Mar 2 - 29, 2015
THNOC's exhibition tracks Jackson's rise from humble beginnings to immortality… more

Artist Spotlight…

Mar 2 - 31, 2015
New Orleans-based woodturning artist Tom Dunne will be the featured artist in… more

Edgar Degas: The…

Mar 2 - May 24, 2015
Featuring drawings, prints, sculpture, and photographs, all from a single… more

Jim Roche: Cultural…

Mar 2 - Jul 12, 2015
Born in 1943, Jim Roche received a BA from Florida State University (1961)… more

Preservation Jazz…

Mar 2 - 2, 2015
Live New Orleans Jazz Nightly! more

Tennessee Williams:…

Mar 2 - May 31, 2015
Tennessee Williams was one of the most admired playwrights of the 20th century.… more

The New Orleans…

Mar 2 - Nov 18, 2015
Marvel Universe LIVE! will captivate audiences with an authentic and original… more

The Joy Theater…

Mar 3 - 3, 2015
Much like acts like The Smiths or Joy Division before them, Above & Beyond… more

Jazz Pilates with…

Mar 4 - 25, 2015
The French Market and The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park are proud… more

Mark Steinmetz: South

Mar 4 - May 10, 2015
Mark Steinmetz lives and works in Athens, Georgia. His work transcends the… more

Ogden After Hours…

Mar 5 - 5, 2015
Join us for Ogden After Hours for Colin Lake. more

The Columns Hotel…

Mar 5 - 26, 2015
The Historical Columns Hotel with its "sophiscicated atmosphere" and… more

Yappy Hour at The…

Mar 5 - 5, 2015
Yappy Hour at the The Velvet Cactus - 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM (Sorry, no dogs… more

Friends of the…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
Local jazz band, the Panorama Jazz Band, will bookend the final concert of… more

International…

Mar 6 - 7, 2015
Now in its seventh year, the New Orleans International Children's Film… more

Jefferson Arts…

Mar 6 - 15, 2015
Mrs. Stancliffe's Rose Cottage Bed & Breakfast has been successful for many… more

Lauren Sturm - Bayou…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
Performs solo acoustic piano. more

Music at the Mint…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
Billie performs mainly in an avant-garde, free style painting expansive… more

Ponchatoula Antique…

Mar 6 - 8, 2015
Featuring-Antique Collectibles Booth, Fine Arts & Crafts Booth, Food Booth,… more

17th Annual Martin…

Mar 2 - 7, 2015
Join us for the 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative 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. http://www.neworleanscvb.com/.