This is a view looking up Royal Street towards the Greater New Orleans Business District. The contrast of old and new…modern skyscrapers are the back drop to the texture of the 18th century spanish influenced french quarter architecture.
New Orleans is the proverbial melting pot of culture. Originally settled by the French in 1718, the Spanish took control of the city in 1768. In 1800 Spain and France signed a secret treaty and Louisiana was given back to France. In 1803 Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase.
NOLA survived two major fires with in 6 years of one another. The first fire was on Good Friday in 1788 and destroyed 856 of the 1100 existing buildings. The second fire was on December 8 of 1794 and destroyed an additional 212 buildings. Therefore almost all of the original french architecture was destroyed with the exception of a handful of buildings, one of which is Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (blog to follow). After the fires, the city was re-built in the Spanish style with bricks, firewalls, iron balconies and courtyards. This is the NOLA we all know and love today!
One of the best websites I have come across is http://www.inetours.com/New_Orleans/French_Quarter_History.html. Here is an excerpt from their site;
“The absolute best way to experience the New Orleans French Quarter is by taking a walking tour.
Visitors might want to keep in mind that, the French Quarter is a neighborhood with private homes and other residences and the grocery stores, restaurants, banks, police station and other services that support communities.
This community just happens to be one of the most visually interesting in America and of significant historic importance. Many of the over 35,000 buildings in New Orleans listed on the National Register of Historic Places are in the French Quarter.”
Just a bit of advice from a nola girl at heart is when in NOLA avoid the obvious…avoid the bus tour and take the horse-drawn carriage ride its much more personal. Stop in one of the many locally owned antique stores or art galleries and ask the owner where she prefers to have lunch. Take a chance on a small cafe that uses traditional ingredients with a new interesting spin. Take the time to talk to the Locals and you will get a feel for the real NOLA and maybe even make a friend or two. New Orleanians are gregarious by nature and are never in too big a hurry to stop and speak to somone passin’ by.