Posts by J. Mark Souther

French Quarter Flattery Revisited

Posted on May 16, 2014

Two years ago I posted “Sincerest Flattery in Tourist Lands,” highlighting a few notable examples of places outside New Orleans that mimic the famed French Quarter. Since that time I have discovered so many more such examples of the “sincerest form of flattery” that it’s worth revisiting the subject. Ranging from careful replication of what is sometimes called the “French Quarter Revival” style in resorts and theme parks to hackneyed adornments on otherwise ordinary apartment complexes, French Quarter-style architecture dots the American landscape. Of course what we call French Quarter-style architecture is in fact far from unique to the French Quarter. Many New Orleans structures outside the Vieux Carré also have original ironwork, and many more have added it. Many cities in the South…

The Super Easy

Posted on February 3, 2013

The pageantry of New Orleans is on display for all the world as the Super Bowl returns to the Big Easy for the tenth time–tying the city with Miami as the most frequent host–and the first time since Hurricane Katrina. This year, with the game coinciding with the official twelve-day Carnival celebration (hence the nickname “Super Gras”), the city has pulled out all the stops in its savvy marketing of the New Orleans brand. The big show may be about the Ravens, the 49ers, and Beyonce’s halftime extravaganza, but tourism promoters have assured that the city will shine through it all and leave lasting impressions. To an even greater degree than on the eve of the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition, Super Bowl XLVII preparations…

Ferraris and Swamp Buggies

Posted on August 20, 2012

Mention Naples, Florida, and images of ostentatious wealth quickly come to mind. On any given day, driving its residential streets requires dodging landscape company trailers for the hundreds whose buzzing equipment grooms banyan-lined, palm-studded green carpets of St. Augustine. Surely few places its size have more golf courses, gated “communities,” palatial homes, in-ground swimming pools, posh boutiques, and high-luxury cars (The town’s Ferrari Club is one of several local enthusiasts’ organizations). A trip down Fifth Avenue South conjures a vision that is one part Mediterranean seaside town and one part lifestyle center. It was not always so. For much of the twentieth century, as American Tourism contributor Aaron Cowan of Slippery Rock University argues, Naples mixed downscale “old Florida” with upscale nods to Palm…

Shutterbugs on Holiday

Posted on August 16, 2012

In Eric Fischer’s representation of Las Vegas, the Strip appears as a large red boomerang.  Fischer’s “Locals and Tourists” Flickr set, which expands upon his Geotaggers’ World Atlas, is a fascinating window into where tourists and locals spend their time in more than one hundred cities around the world. Based on public Flickr and Picasa APIs, Fischer’s maps graphically represent the so-called “tourist bubbles” that geographers have long described in cities.  As he explains in his methodological statement, there is room for interpretation of these geocoded representations of picture-taking activity, but his analysis lines up very well with what we know about these cities. In the case of Las Vegas, it suggests the relative popularity of the Strip versus Fremont Street, Vegas’s much older downtown…

Hope Springs Eternal for Riverfront Tourism

Posted on August 14, 2012

Countless cities have harnessed rivers as focal points for civic renaissance and tourism gambits. Memphis’s Mud Island and Minneapolis’s Mill District are but two of the nation’s riverside destinations. San Antonio’s River Walk, by dint of its age, is a more iconic example. First envisioned in the 1920s and constructed with federal funding under FDR’s New Deal, the River Walk became as much a handle for San Antonio as the famed Alamo. While creating a great riverine attraction on the surface may appear straightforward, it involves much more than meets the eye. Maintaining San Antonio’s tourist and civic goldmine is not simply a matter of maintaining the infrastructure at water’s edge. Rather, at this time of year, especially in droughts, it is a matter of…

Fun Las Vegas Infographic

Posted on July 31, 2012

Would you believe that all the hotel rooms in San Francisco would fit inside just four Las Vegas resorts? Or that the 15,000 miles of neon tubing that illuminate the Strip would, if connected end to end, result in a continuous neon tube framing the outline of the Lower 48? These are just a couple of the fascinating pieces of trivia in the following infographic, titled “7 Reasons Nothing Leaves Las Vegas” by Frugal Dad. Taken together, the graphically represented factoids really hammer home the impact of one of the nation’s preeminent tourist destinations.

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…