History

Out with the Old, in with the New: Crescent City Holiday Traditions

November 05, 2013
Not until the 18th century was January 1 regarded by most European countries as the start of the New Year. Eventually celebration on this date - or, especially, on New Year's Eve - was not only accepted but marked by convivial gatherings of bounteous good cheer. Boisterous New Year's parties have long been a part of life in New Orleans. Like Christmas and Mardi Gras, the holiday was introduced when the city was a French colony and reinforced later by European immigrants who helped populate the city.

Turning on the Streetlights in the French Quarter

August 02, 2013
Whether one believes in ghosts and vampires, or just imagines footsteps in the dark, the Crescent City's French Quarter, with its worn walls and overhanging galleries, helps one conjure up thoughts of such things. The Quarter is a wonderfully exotic place that can be made eerier by night, although long ago this was undoubtedly truer, since today's bright lighting tempers the gloom and shadow.

Down by the Riverfront in the French Quarter

April 29, 2013
"The Crescent City" - the traditional nickname of New Orleans - refers to the Mississippi River's sweeping bend at the French Quarter, the site of the original city, founded in 1718. The Quarter is on the river's natural levee - ancient silt deposits from floods that created ground higher than found in nearby swamps - but its location was flood-prone, necessitating the construction in 1722 of a low levee that has since been considerably expanded.

"Promiscuous Maskers" From Canal Street To Bourbon Street

January 30, 2013
From its founding in 1718 New Orleans has annually celebrated the Carnival season, beginning on Twelfth Night and ending with Mardi Gras, to usher in the solemnity of Lent, following the Catholic tradition of the city's French founders. Costuming and exchanging roles are ancient parts of European Mardi Gras, and in 18th-century New Orleans, there were already men dressing as women and African slaves impersonating Native Americans. In 1912 the Daily Picayune said some female impersonators "made the fair feminines [sic] themselves feel ashamed ... others ...

Buying Christmas Dreams on Canal Street

November 07, 2012
Canal Street was New Orleans's premier shopping destination between about 1850 and 1990, and most New Orleanians have fond memories of Christmas shopping there. Though Canal Street - planned in 1810 as the site of a canal, which was never built - is not in the French Quarter, the two border each other, making the street a vital part of French Quarter retail history. For Christmas shoppers from other parts of town, the Quarter was an added Christmas attraction, since its many restaurants were ideal holiday lunch spots.

Red Lights in the French Quarter

July 31, 2012
Although many people have heard of the infamous vice district called Storyville, established in 1898 by an act of the New Orleans City Council, few realize that it was not in the French Quarter. Storyville was in fact just outside the French Quarter, in the area bounded by Basin, Customhouse (as Iberville was once called), Robertson and St. Louis Streets. Still, the French Quarter has seen more than its share of prostitution throughout its history - beginning long before the creation of Storyville and continuing long after the district's official closing in 1917.