Frommer's EasyGuide to New Orleans 2017 by Diana K. Schwam

Frommer's EasyGuide to New Orleans 2017 by Diana K. Schwam

Author:Diana K. Schwam
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: FrommerMedia
Published: 2016-12-15T05:00:00+00:00

Outside the French Quarter

Visiting Uptown, the Garden District & Bayou St. John

If you can see just one thing outside the French Quarter, make it the Garden District. These two neighborhoods are the first places that come to mind when one hears the words “New Orleans.” The Garden District has no significant historic buildings or important museums—it’s simply beautiful—enough for authors as diverse as Truman Capote and Anne Rice to become enchanted by its spell. Gorgeous homes stand quietly amid lush foliage, elegant but ever so slightly (or more) decayed. You can see why this is the setting for so many novels; it’s hard to imagine that anything real actually happens here.

But it does. Like the Quarter, this is a residential neighborhood, so please be courteous as you wander about. To see the sights, you need only mosey around and admire the exteriors and gardens of beautiful houses. We’ve mapped out a comprehensive walking tour (p. 236) to help guide you to the Garden District’s treasures and explain a little of its history. Naturally it starts with a ride on the St. Charles streetcar. You might also check out the listings starting on p. 215 to find the best shops, galleries, and bookstores on Magazine Street, the eclectic shopping strip that bounds the Garden District.

Meanwhile, a little background: Across Canal Street from the Quarter, “American” New Orleans begins. After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, an essentially French-Creole city came under the auspices of a government determined to develop it as an American city. Tensions between Creole society and the encroaching American newcomers began to increase. Some historians lay this tension at the feet of Creole snobbery; others blame the naive and uncultured Americans. In any case, Creole society succeeded in maintaining a relatively distinct social world, deflecting American settlement upriver of Canal Street (Uptown). The Americans in turn came to outpace the population with sheer numbers of immigrants. Newcomers bought up land in what had been the old Gravier Plantation (now the Uptown area) and began to build a parallel city. Very soon, Americans came to dominate the local business scene, centered along Canal Street. In 1833, the American enclave now known as the Garden District was incorporated as Lafayette City, and—thanks in large part to the New Orleans–Carrollton Railroad, which ran the route of today’s St. Charles Avenue streetcar—the Americans kept right on expanding until they reached the tiny resort town of Carrollton. It wasn’t until 1852 that the various sections came together officially as a united New Orleans.

Bayou St. John, Esplanade & Lake Pontchartrain Bayou St. John is one of the key reasons New Orleans exists. This body of water originally extended from the outskirts of New Orleans to Lake Pontchartrain. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, was commissioned to establish a settlement in Louisiana that would both make money and protect French holdings in the New World from British expansion. Bienville chose the spot where New Orleans now sits because he recognized the strategic importance of the Bayou St.


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