# The oldest section of New Orleans (also known as the Vieux Carre) is still its spiritual center, capturing the hearts of visitors and locals alike with quaint, narrow streets brimming with first-class antique shops, award-winning restaurants and, of course, world-famous night life.

# The 17th and 18th century Spanish houses hide behind their high walls, impenetrable to the casual onlooker. A rich and secret life takes place behind them, in patio gardens, along second and third-story galleries, and in tall, fan-cooled rooms. Slavery, murder, abjection, romance, and the discussion of the opera is what used to take place.

Houses and Shops

Nowadays, those horrors have transmuted into other, less spectacular activities, such as lawyer orgies. Many is an attorney who sheds his and her strict redingote for the orchid silk of the after hour bathrobe in the Vieux Carre. Real estate is so pricey in this unique corner of America that lawyers are being followed by Hollywood moneybags in search of fantasy and escape. For the newcomers, the Quarter must adhere strictly to the Church of Restoration, which is the new high religion of the South from Savannah to New Orleans. Alas, many of the local realtors, out for a buck, are turning the insides of historic buildings into Highway 66 motel rooms, complete with shag, formica, and bathroom from Home Depot. The reason for this evil work is that apartments thus appointed rent for considerable prices to yet another class of newcomers, the suburban escapees. #These creatures like their facades historic but their insides square. It's so hot these days, the sweat runs down the windows of antique shops and down the backs and fronts of New Orleanians, some of whom are secretly happy because, eyes half-closed, they are guiding the path of a sweat drop to rich and giddy places. It's all in the management of sweat, trust me. At any given time, a drop is heading somewhere. Which explains the utter lack of thought as I stroll down the French Quarter noting that houses are old shops and shops are new houses. This is a universal rule, though deduced from the French Quarter. Everything that used to be in shops is now inside people's houses. You can find all the old shops in people's houses here. But in most of America, the river of household items has been swelling decade after decade through mass-production and it is only obsolescence that keeps it moving. The old shops are still intact in the old Quarter houses, many of which have been antique shops several times already. The point of this is that everyone lives in a shop. In the old days, people lived in small shops and there were fewer of them. The new people live at Wal-Mart and there are millions of them. Houses used to turn into shops but no longer. Now, houses just fall apart and the shops are all new. Only shops turn into houses now, a one-way flow with no end in sight. Except in the Vieux Carre, where the nude lawyers roam, and realtors smoke cigars. -Andrei Codrescu

French Quarter

Those with an interest in history will want to investigate some of the Quarter's historic properties, which include the Beauregard-Keys House and Garden, where both Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard and novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes lived; Gallier House, where prominent 19th-century architect James Gallier Jr. resided; and the Herman-Grima House, where the only remaining stable and open-hearth kitchen in the French Quarter is located. For a more in-depth look at local history, stop by the Historic New Orleans Collection, the city's historical archive and research museum that features ongoing exhibitions of its holdings.

Some of the world's best antique shops can be found on Royal Street, which rivals New York, Paris and London in the quality of its stores. Many of the shops have been family-owned for generations, and feature antique furniture, textiles and Oriental rugs, light fixtures, porcelain, paintings, and jewelry.
Also bustling with activity is the city's riverfront, where replicas of 19th-century paddlewheelers, compete for space with enormous cargo vessels from around the world, carrying goods in and out of the Port of New Orleans. Daily cruises are offered by the John James Audubon Riverboat, which ferries passengers from the French Quarter to the Audubon Zoo and back, as well as the Natchez Steamboat, and the Creole and Cajun Queens, which offer combination tour and dinner cruises.
Just across the river from the French Quarter is historic Algiers Point, an area that evolved from plantation lands and developed around the shipbuilding and railroad industries. It is bound by Slidell Street, Atlantic Avenue and the river on two sides.

An ideal area of town to explore on foot, Algiers is the site of frequent walking tours. Algiers Point is accessible by taking the Canal Street ferry, which has been in operation since the 1800s.

One of Algiers' major attractions is Mardi Gras World, an 80,000-square-foot warehouse where designer Blain Kern and his family have been creating the fabulous floats that roll down New Orleans streets during Carnival for 50 years. Tours are available for the facility, which also displays Carnival props and costumes, as well as an informative video on the history of Mardi Gras.

Cities of the Dead
Anyone who has seen the film Easy Rider will remember that famous cemetery scene in which "cool guys" Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper hang out among the crumbling tombs of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. But this is only a recent moment in the long history of New Orleans' aboveground cemeteries, known by the locals at the Cities of the Dead. #

As below-ground burial is impossible here, due to the region's high water table, tombs of the city's burial grounds resemble windowless houses lined up to form strange "communities". While many are in a state of disrepair, weathering time and the elements, others have elaborate embellishments and are faithfully maintained by their families on the traditional Roman Catholic holiday of All Saints Day (November 1).

St. Louis No. 1 is eternal home to Etienne de Bore', who perfected the process for refining sugar; 19-th century chess champion Paul Morphy; Homer Plessy of the landmark 1892 court case Plessy vs. Ferguson (which sanctioned Jim Crow laws in the South); and Ernest "Dutch" Morial, the city's first African-American mayor. Voodoo queen Marie Laveau rests here, too, but her daughter, Marie Laveau II, resides in St. Louis No. 2, as do 19th-century mayors Pitot and Girod and pirate captain Dominique You. Also view my VooDoo Page
This information (in part) is reproduced from
WHERE: NEW ORLEANS Magazine, article by Don Hoffman

The Quarter

sprang to life in 1718, as a military outpost for the French, who sensed the strategic importance of the river location and built the city as a walled fortress. French engineer Adrien de Pauger designed the symmetrical layout of the original city, a 120-square-block area, now defined by Esplanade Avenue and Canal, North Rampart and Decatur Streets.

Jackson Square

# At the center of every French colony was a church flanked by government buildings, and New Orleans was no exception. Today, St. Louis Cathedral still stands with the Cabildo and Presbytere buildings by its side in Jackson Square, the original place d'armes (parade grounds of the city).

# Just steps away from the Square is Cafe' du Monde, the premier stop for hot cafe' au lait and beignets, square-shaped donuts, lightly fried and dusted with powdered sugar. Also nearby is the French Market, one of the oldest public markets in the U.S. It features a collection of shops, restaurants, an open-air fruit and vegetable market, and a flea mart filled with potential gift items.

Bourbon Street

The live wire of the Quarter is rollicking Bourbon Street, lined with bars, music clubs, restaurants, and other, often risqu?', venues. #Without a doubt the city's most famous street, Bourbon-named for the French monarchy-is packed with people seven nights a week.

Birthplace of jazz

New Orleans offers plenty of places to catch the music live. Traditional Dixieland jazz is played nightly at Preservation Hall. Adjacent to Preservation Hall is the city's best-known bar, Pat O'Brien's, where its signature drink, the Hurricane, is served in a souvenir glass.

Andrei Codrescu's

new book of essays, The Dog With The Chip In His Neck, has just been published by St. Martin's Press.
Moon Over Bourbon Street

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