And I Think To Myself……
Welcome to my favorite world, the remarkable New Orleans French Quarter. The place where pirates walked, Louisiana was sold and a tour or a carriage ride will make it all come back to life for you. This 14 block area from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue of co-mingled businesses and residential dwellings has endured much yet is still here to tell the tale. It is so steeped in history and wrapped in an air of mystery that it will stick to the soles of your shoes as you walk the cobbled streets with the ghosts of the past and visitors of today. Do you know the difference between a balcony and a gallery? What is a “Romeo catcher”? Where did the term “neutral ground” come from? The city was founded in 1718. There is so much to know, and you can’t help but want to know more.
Once upon a time, I had the good fortune to live in the greater New Orleans area for several years. It was a new and exciting experience for a really (and I mean “REALLY”) small town girl. The city itself was awesome, but it was the French Quarter that drew me like a magnet. Every chance we got we answered the call of “the Quarter”. The temptation to rush out of the CBD (Central Business District) at lunch time and head over to Port of Call to grab a burger was overwhelming. Partying on Bourbon, eating oysters at Acme, taking out of town visitors to the Aquarium, Riverwalk and Café Du Monde, you name it, we just couldn’t ignore the siren song. Even then I failed to realize as most visitors will do that this is a community, a neighborhood, a world unto itself.
It is just in recent years and with the opportunity to be a part-time Quarter resident that I have come to appreciate the importance and significance of the French Quarter. Not just as a entertaining get away, but as the piece of high ground (remember everything is relative) where Louisiana began. My eyes have been opened to how truly special this place and the people who call it home are. The famous artist or celebrity may live next door to the waitress or the tour guide. Down the street from the retired musician are the street performer, the cook and the policeman. The doctor is on the corner. They are a very diverse population to be sure, but with at the very least two things in common. They are the ardent caretakers of this cornerstone of Louisiana history and heritage and delight in sharing it.
You owe it to yourself to come down here. Let your eyes be opened and see what I see. I couldn’t have said it better Louie.
…..What a Wonderful World.