Posts tagged “French Quarter

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…

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…

Imbibing History at the Old Absinthe House

Posted on May 24, 2012

One hundred twenty-eight years after General Andrew Jackson plotted against the British with the pirate Jean Lafitte, setting up the Battle of New Orleans, in 1943 Owen Brennan (patriarch of the famed family of New Orleans restaurateurs) bought the Old Absinthe House, where these meetings are said to have occurred. The Old Absinthe House, located at 240 Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, began as the corner grocery for a Spanish importer in 1806 before being converted to a saloon. Only much later in the 19th century did it take its present name, which derives from a potent liquor it began serving. Its connections to a pirate and an illicit beverage made it irresistible to Brennan, who would later buy the Vieux Carré Restaurant…

A Pre-Preservation, Anti–French Quarter Monument

Posted on May 15, 2012

This ca. 1908 postcard is just one of some 30,000 vintage postcards from the Curt Teich Postcard Archives at Lake County Discovery Museum in Lake County, Illinois, that are available for online viewing. It is a rich resource for documenting the places tourists visited a century ago. This card shows the view one would have beheld when standing at Royal and St. Louis Streets and looking southwest (upriver) toward the Monteleone Hotel in the New Orleans French Quarter. On the right side of Royal Street is the architecture for which the world knows New Orleans. The Court House shown at left was a new addition to the Vieux Carré. Built in the Beaux-Arts style that was popular for civic buildings around the turn of the century (thanks…

Neighborhood or Hospitality Zone?

Posted on May 9, 2012

The Third Battle of New Orleans* is raging, as reported in yesterday’s Times-Picayune. Mayor Mitch Landrieu and New Orleans tourism interests are concerned that the city’s French Quarter and its immediate surrounding neighborhoods and downtown as tourist destinations have failed to rebound as completely as hoped after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The inflow of tourists, 8.75 million last year, is less than the 11 million before Katrina and a far cry from the city’s ambitious goal of 13 million by 2018, which marks the tricentennial of the city’s founding. Landrieu’s father, Moon Landrieu, was mayor forty years ago and was instrumental in creating a much tighter partnership between the municipal government and the tourism industry, but today’s pro-tourism effort builds upon a much more powerful…

New Orleans: The Paris of America

Posted on May 7, 2012

This early 1900s postcard, sketched by Z. A. Hendrick and published by the St. Charles Hotel, depicts a hypothetical tourist itinerary in New Orleans, “The Paris of America.” With three of thirteen pictures devoted to mild winter weather, the card reveals how actively New Orleans promoters courted northern winter tourists in the early 20th century. Of course, the thermometer’s 75° Fahrenheit reading is a bit optimistic even for New Orleans on a typical winter day. The card offers clues about how tourists reached and encountered American cities in the early years of the past century. Arriving by passenger train, tourists could opt for a “sight-seeing trip” on board a motorized touring car in a time before automobiles reached wide use. It also suggests much…

A Prehistory of New Orleans Jazz Fest

Posted on May 6, 2012

Today marks the final day of the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Officially this is the 43rd annual Jazz Fest in the Crescent City, but a close look at history shows that the inaugural festival in in 1970 in Congo Square (across North Rampart Street from the French Quarter) followed years of earlier efforts to stage such an event The earliest jazz festivals in New Orleans grew out of the work of the New Orleans Jazz Club, founded in 1948 after its short-lived predecessor, the National Jazz Foundation, folded. The NOJC held a small jazz festival of sorts with several concerts in Congo Square in 1949 and 1950. After a promising start, a series of unfortunate events in the 1950s and 1960s…