For Spring Break this year, my family and I opted for a trip to colorful New Orleans. Having never been there before, I was surprised at the vitality and spirit that this city had to offer. Our visit centered around the infamous French Quarter, a historic section of New Orleans.
New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company and was later given to the Spanish in the Treaty of Paris (1783). In 1803, Spain signed a secret treaty giving France control of the city again. Shortly thereafter, Napoleon sold the Louisiana territory to the United States through the Louisiana Purchase.
Due to its historical significance, the entire French Quarter (also known as the Quarter) is a National Historic Landmark. The French influence on this city, coupled with the Spanish influence during their rule, created a unique brand of architecture, people, and culture.
Most of the area’s architecture was designed by the Spanish residents who were forced to rebuild the city after the fires of 1788 and 1794. Plaques can be found on buildings and streets, explaining what their names were when the Spanish ruled the area.
As with any city with a warm climate, homelessness is apparent in New Orleans. In addition, many buildings are old and the streets and walkways are battered. When you add it all up, the French Quarter appears as juxtaposition with its rich history, culture, entertainment, and wealth, along with tattered buildings, drunkenness, and poverty.
There was so much to see in the French Quarter and I tried to capture most of its essence. This gallery of photos showcases the positive side of a colorful and soulful city with resilient, gleeful, and often entertaining residents.
Balconies and galleries abound in New Orleans (balconies are self-supporting; galleries are supported from the ground). French Colonial architecture featuring Victorian-style iron balconies/galleries are prominent in the French Quarter. In addition, courtyards with gardens and fountains are a common sight. Sometimes even the tightest spots will have a lush courtyard big enough for a table and chairs.
In the French Quarter, old buildings stand next to new ones. Aged and peeling colors peek through, as new paint fades. Exposed wood and brick on historical buildings age in the hot New Orleans sun. Some façades age, others receive face-lifts. Pictured below are a few of my favorite older and aging structures.
One of these older buildings is Preservation Hall, a music venue and organization that’s dedicated to preserving traditional New Orleans jazz.
Throughout the French Quarter, you’ll find tourists, free-spirited residents, and entertainers of all kinds walk the streets, trying to make a living off the tourist’s dollar. The gentleman below had a sign that read “Poet for Hire.” People of all kinds walk the streets here!
When the city of New Orleans was established, it was centered around a square. This square is the current Jackson Square, now named for President Andrew Jackson, who was victorious at the 1815 Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. Jackson Square is currently home to artists, musicians, palm readers, and entertainers, who cater to strolling tourists.
These include just a few more of my favorite photos of the French Quarter. Be sure to catch a good view of the adjacent Mississippi River, just steps away from Jackson Square.
Don’t make the mistake we did and rent a car for your entire stay in New Orleans. Hotel valet parking is expensive (especially in the French Quarter), as are the cost of parking garages, and simply car rentals in general. Rent a car for only the days that you will need one. When you are exploring the French Quarter, no car is necessary. Walking is the primary form of transportation in and around that area. Despite the hassle of having to return your car before your trip is over, you can save a lot of money overall. We took a few rides with Uber in the city (to avoid paying for parking) and that’s when we realized we should have returned our car when it was no longer needed and simply ridden with Uber. That would have saved us $300.
Have you ever visited the French Quarter? What did you like the most? Share in the comments!