Posts tagged “French Quarter

Venice Beach’s Battle of the Boardwalk

Posted on April 24, 2012

Venice Beach is widely known for its carefree, bohemian air. Having enticed successive waves of Beats, hippies, punks, roller-derby fiends, and other nonconformists for decades, the funky Los Angeles neighborhood along the Pacific is among the inheritors of a long tradition of quirky enclaves in America: New York’s Greenwich Village, New Orleans’s French Quarter, San Francisco’s North Beach and Haight-Ashbury, Cleveland’s Coventry Village, Miami’s Coconut Grove, and Atlanta’s Little Five Points, to name but a few. This image is so pervasive that few can believe Venice had its origin as a master-planned residential community laced with gondola-plied canals that conjured its Italian namesake, as architectural historian Philip Gruen describes in American Tourism. Like other counterculture havens, Venice Beach became noted for the free-spirited joie…

Sensory Overload in New Orleans?

Posted on March 2, 2012

Recent days and weeks have seen the latest round in a long, storied struggle over the essence of New Orleans’s biggest attraction – the French Quarter.  Shopkeepers have protested efforts to curb storefront advertising that some say mars historic integrity; residents have railed against amplified music blaring from courtyards behind Bourbon Street nightclubs; and some worry that sanitation efforts fall short of the cleanliness that the city’s top destination needs. New Orleans’s famous Vieux Carré has long staked its reputation on sensory experiences at odds with mainstream America. Even in the nineteenth century, Americans understood the old French district of the Crescent City as a place apart where sights, sounds, and smells bespoke an exotic flair.  Variously likened to an American Paris or Cairo…