French Quarter New Orleans

French Quarter New Orleans
French Quarter New Orleans

Founded in 1718, the French Quarter New Orleans is dripping with history. From the old buildings, the magnificent architecture and the old shops that grace its streets, the French Quarter is a must-see on your list of things-to-do during your next New Orleans vacation.

The original design and outline of the town plan was done in typical French style, reflected in the street layout, the central square and the impressive church of St. Louis. The Spanish took over in 1762 and during their 40 year legacy, they were responsible for the look of what makes the French Quarter so distinctive today: the wrought iron balconies, the wall courtyard gardens, and the plastered brick houses come from the Spanish influence during that time.

It was also during the Spanish rule that the birth of the “French” market came about and the Cabildo, or town hall, rose up. In 1803 the Louisiana Purchase by the Americans brought a new golden age to New Orleans and the French Quarter. The Americans opened up the city to trade and over 10,000 refugees from other wars around the New World. This contributed to the growth of New Orleans and the French Quarter. The Americans popularity in this mixed nationality city rose when they fought and won a battle with the British in 1815. It became a very popular and powerful port city as cotton, sugar and steamboats made there way here from the Caribbean and up the Mississippi River. New Orleans became the most popular location for slave trading as huge plantations rose up in Louisiana and down the Mississippi. You can still find the influence of the large influx of slaves by the presence of Jazz music, the many Haitian voodoo shops and the delicious African inspired soul food in New Orleans, all brought by the African natives.

After the civil war, the decline of New Orleans was evident and the population was shaken up and moved about the city to deal with the loss of the trade that was so prominent in the 1880’s. As the early twentieth century rolled around, there were increasing numbers of artists attracted to the city. This is the time when the originators of New Orleans Jazz, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, started playing their unusual tunes in the French Quarter and writers like William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams flocked to the ancient town. Attracted by the French Quarter’s freewheeling urbanism and quaint surroundings, they gleaned creative inspiration from this diverse town, even as it was declining.

In 1936, the Vieux Carre Commission was created in order to preserve the history of New Orleans in the French Quarter with its quaint atmosphere. Antique and art stores sprang up, Dixieland jazz bands played in the increasingly popular Bourbon Street nightclubs and burlesque parlors. Thanks to their preservation authority, the French Quarter of today will take you on an amazing trip off the train of time as you wind through the streets of New Orleans.

Today, tourism is the primary economy of New Orleans and the French Quarter. They locals welcome all tourists with a large selection of excellent nightlife, bars, restaurants, jazz halls, shops, tourist attractions and parties, like the famous Mardi Gras. There are many other festivals and events that take place in the French Quarter during the year, including the three day French Quarter festival. During the month April the French Quarter Festival lines the streets with musicians and food booths where you can sample more than 60 local restaurants delicious Creole, Cajun and African inspired fare. There are even events for children with prizes, games and entertainment for the whole family. The French Quarter Festival activities are free, so all you pay for are the food and drinks.

Some of the best historic hotels and buildings in Louisiana are located on the streets of the New Orleans French Quarter. You can also find the famous Preservation Hall for listening to the New Orleans Jazz bands, the historic French Market and some of the best food in the world. From the middle of the French Quarter New Orleans you can catch a horse drawn carriage ride, take a cruise on the Steamboats on the Mississippi River and drink a good cup of coffee at the nearby French Market before an afternoon of shopping at the local boutiques. You can even find a few Voodoo shops or local tarot card readers to indulge those looking for the historic occult dealings on the streets of the French Quarter.

Another famous aspect of the French Quarter New Orleans, is the darker side of the French Quarter. This includes the colorful characters that have performed legendary voodoo curses and the murders that have lead to the many rumored hauntings whispered about town for the last century. The most famous hauntings have been sighted at 1140 Royal Avenue where Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a famous socialite in the 1800’s lived. The stories of how she mistreated and tortured her slaves, which came to light after two slaves chained to the stove set the house on fire, are almost too gruesome to bear. The authorities discovered in Madame La Laurie’s attic several badly tortured slaves who later died. This location has been the center of macabre ghost stories ever since. There are also stories that the famous Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau of the early 1800’s still walks the street to this day. Many people still visit her graveyard in the St. Louis cemetery to catch a glimpse of her ghost. For the not too light of heart, you can find several tours that visit the New Orleans graveyards and haunted houses.

All this intrigue and passion in one city gives it a sexy, sultry, exotic feel that is unmatched in any place in the U.S. On your next trip to New Orleans, an intense, leisurely, and drawn out visit to the New Orleans French Quarter is something you can’t miss!

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