French Quarter Architecture

Despite it's name, the French Quarter, New Orlean's oldest neighborhood, has only a handful of buildings that remain in the French colonial style of our founding fathers.  The major events influenced the transformation of theQuarter's build environment – Louisiana Purchase, fires of 1788 & 1794. 

The spaniards enforced strict building codes (ex: brick!) to avoid fire, the architecture was indirectly influenced by the spanish, by way of the carribean. The creole architecture (mix of spanish, french, and carribean) is what the quarter is made of today (since mid 1800's?)  Compare to Havana or Cartagena. This is the time wrough iron became popular

New Orleans Voodoo

Voodoo. That word typically elicits thoughts of devil worship, blood, vampires, or the music festival that takes over New Orleans City Park each Halloween! But, despite its spooky connotation, Voodoo, like most religions is practiced to positively impact its' believers and communities. It is an ancient religion steeped in local history, and practiced by 15% of the population here in New Orleans! Voodoo practice originated in Africa and began spreading to other parts of the world in 1510 with the establishment of the slave trade. Because of New Orleans' creole polulation (mixture of French, Spanish, and African descendants), Voodoo thrived in our city and still has a strong presence today. If you are interested in the educational aspect or the entertainment aspect of this ancient practice, New Orleans is the place to be! Check out the Voodoo Museum in the French Quarter to learn more. 

Floral Arrangements in Creole Plantation Homes

Gorgeous Evergreen Magnolia blooms as well as Confederate Jasmine and Gardenia flowers were constantly used in floral arrangements in every room of Creole plantation homes throughout the 19th century. People in that time thought it was ill advised to wash yourself too often and remove 'essential oils 'of the body. With their heavy European clothing style, one can certainly understand the need for floral fragrances around the home!

The French Market

Founded in 1791, the French Market is the oldest open air market in the US! Located on the East bank of the Mississippi River in the historic French Quarter, the market is now one of the main tourist attractions in the city. When it was first established, it functioned as an important trading post for the multicultural population of our fine city. From Native American herbs and spices, to French, German, African, and Spanish specialties, the French Market housed them all. Not much has changed in over 200 years! Although the fresh produce section of the market is pretty limited, you can still find certain foods and handmade crafts that are unique to our region and our people.  The French Market will be one of the main venues for the Creole Tomato Festival next month.  If you like tomatoes, try our Creoles! You will be in for a truely local treat, they are so flavorful!

Mardi Gras Indians

Mardi Gras Indians are a selective group of individuals who parade with the most elaborate costumes you will see during Mardi Gras. Most of the hand beaded, colorful works of wearable art take years to complete!  Though it is said that the tradition of the Mardi Gras Indians was born during a time of racial tension and violence, today the Indians tribes compete in a theatre of art and culture. The tribes challenge each other with unique songs and dances, and compare one anothers craftsmanship in an expressive parade unlike any other. The history of the Mardi Gras Indians as well as their current operations remains mysterious. They never announce where they will be parading or what the route will be. It is up to the Big Chief to decide.  Look out for these beauties this Mardi Gras season!

photos courtesy of Larry Schirling

200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans

In recognition of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, several local authors have released new literature re-examining the significance of this historic event. Most notable among them is Morgan Molthrop's Andrew Jackson's Playbook: 15 Strategies for Success.  Molthrop, a local businessman and cultural tourism guru, has framed the Battle of New Orleans within the cultural context of the city, defining relationships between Andrew Jackson's New Orleans and our contemporary city.  This fresh perspective on one of the most significant events in our history can certainly help us to re-examine our more recent history and how we shape our city in the future. 

Molthrop's Jackson Playbook Events, Signings & Appearances:

January 1 – Barnes & Noble, Metairie – 1 p.m.

January 5 – University of Lafayette history classes lectures

January 6 – Jefferson Parish Main Library – 7 p.m.

January 7 – Louisiana State Library, Baton Rouge – noon

January 8 – New Orleans Athletic Club – 7 p.m. [Bicentennial Key Note]

January 9 – “Steppin’ Out” on WYES-Channel 12

January 11 – Creole Queen Steamboat lecture/signing – 10 a.m.

January 15 – Prytania Theatre book signing – 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

January 21 – National Society of Colonial Dames – noon