In July I drove down to New Orleans with my son Jack, who was moving there to teach high school, having just graduated from the University of Washington. It was my first visit, and being a photographer, of course I absolutely fell in love with New Orleans in general, and the French Quarter in particular. For someone with an unquenchable desire to shoot buildings and architecture, the Quarter represents Disneyland on steroids, the most colorful residential district imaginable, with seemingly every possible combination of colors represented.
Most of the buildings in the Quarter (or Vieux Carre, meaning “old square” in English) date to the late 1700’s or early 1800’s, a period of Spanish rule in that part of the country, and before the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The architectural style of most of the buildings is Spanish colonial.
In 1815 Andrew Jackson led the Battle of New Orleans, emerged victorious, and went on to be elected President. Jackson Square is one of the major landmarks of New Orleans and the Quarter.
The French Quarter is a rich melting pot of cultural, religious, culinary, artistic, and linguistic influences. The list of musicians and writers who have come from NOLA includes Jelly Roll Morton, Al Hirt, Louis Armstrong, William Faulkner, Sherwood Anderson, Tennessee Williams, and Truman Capote, to name just a few. At different times, different ethnic groups have had major influence, including Italians, Irish, French, Spanish, Cuban, German, and French Creoles. Later the Quarter was host to a vibrant bohemian artistic community, the low rents, the exotic, risque, and raucous entertainments, the bars and restaurants and galleries and street musicians and live music all attractive to the free spirits who moved into the neighborhood. Even today, the French Quarter is one of the few places in America where possession and consumption of alcohol in open containers on the street is permitted. Walk the streets and you will encounter street performers, musicians, fortune tellers, tarot card readers, caricaturists, painters, numerous foreign languages, and great food everywhere. And btw, it’s pronounced like “nawlins”.