Sincerest Flattery in Tourist “Lands”
Posted on July 14, 2012
Although tourist destinations often trade on their distinctive visual presence, often there is no lack of imitation to go along with the unique. Replicas of other places have long been a hallmark of tourism. Well before its renown for country music, Nashville, Tennessee, styled itself as the “Athens of the South” and even built a full-size Parthenon for its Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897. In more recent years, Las Vegas has borrowed architecture unabashedly from places as far-flung as New York and Venice.
Few places have inspired more imitations than the New Orleans French Quarter, one of the featured destinations in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition. Much enamored of the Vieux Carré, Walt Disney added New Orleans Square, a miniaturized version of the famed district, to Disneyland in 1966. Twenty-five years later, Walt Disney World added Disney’s Port Orleans, a themed resort with one “region” loosely patterned after Vieux Carré architecture. Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort features an even more realistic assemblage of Vieux Carré buildings beneath its gigantic glass atrium. Even apartment complexes (French Quarter Apartments in Tuscaloosa, Alabama), motels (Holiday Inn–French Quarter near Toledo, Ohio), and mixed-use developments (River Ranch in Lafayette, Louisiana) have copied the trademark iron-lace balconies found in the French Quarter. Perhaps our favorite example is the extremely miniaturized (1:20 scale) French Quarter model in the MiniLand USA section of Legoland California in San Diego, where a large swath of the Quarter from Jackson Square and St. Louis Cemetery #1 is recreated in loving detail with millions of Lego bricks!
Have you discovered examples of French Quarter replicas or replicas of other famous places in your travels? Tell us about them!