Thursday, February 28, 2019
Note: As this post was getting a little long tomorrow’s post will include the Battle of Chalmette and Fountainbleau. Today’s post is the French Quarter only.
Our original plan to head north had been short circuited by some bad weather. Instead we left Fairhope and stayed close to the Gulf coast. Slidell, LA, the location of the Pine Crest RV Park is about 22 miles from New Orleans. With all the parades and partying going on almost daily we decide to slip into town in the morning and amble through the historic French Quarter.
The mutzos accompany us so we are somewhat limited as to what we can do, but no matter, it is what it is. They were well behaved around people, (shock!) and actually were obedient (gasp!). We first walked the grassy Woldenberg Park that lies on the levee along the shore of the Big Muddy passing the ferry building and the sternwheeler Natchez. From the park’s elevation we can easily look into the French Quarter.
Excerpt from Wikipedia: The French Quarter (French: Quartier français), also known as the Vieux Carré (“Old Square”) or Vieux Carré Historic District, is the oldest section of the City of New Orleans. Founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, New Orleans developed around the Vieux Carré, the city’s central square. Today, the district is commonly known as the French Quarter, or simply “the Quarter,” a reflection of the diminished French influence after the Louisiana Purchase.
Most extant historical buildings were constructed in the late 1700s, during a period of Spanish rule, or during the early 1800s, after U.S. annexation and statehood. The district is a National Historic Landmark, and numerous contributing buildings have received separate designations of significance. The French Quarter is a prime destination for tourists and local residents.
We reach a wide set of stairs that either takes one down to street level or……. into the Mississippi River? I don’t know why they lead into the river but they do! We chose the less wet route and walk into Jackson Square. We are within 50 feet of exiting the square when a nice young fella informs us that dogs are not allowed in the square and points in a direction that would have us walk the entire square in order to comply. I point towards the Cathedral and say we will exit that way since it’s about a mile closer to the street. Ok, I exaggerate, 300 feet closer. He agrees and we exit.
The first church built on the Cathedral’s site was completed in 1718. That church burned in the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788, rebuilt in 1789 and raised to the cathedral rank in 1793. That church proved too small and was essentially torn down to its lateral walls, expanded and rebuilt in 1850. Pope Paul visited here in 1987.
Ok, now it’s time to explore the Quarter. We strolled many rues, er, streets enjoying the beautiful architecture, most of that comprised of the ornate cast iron railings and posts that sets this section of town off from any other that we’ve visited.
I also found it interesting that most of the buildings were three stories high, also novel. In our experience most old brick and masonry buildings in other parts of the country rarely exceed two stories unless its a big hotel or other prominent structure, then four stories was very common.
Of course we visit at nearly the height of Mardi Gras. With that celebration comes the human horde….. and great decorations. We stay long enough to get a flavor of the Quarter and it’s party atmosphere, then make a quick exit as the sidewalks are starting to fill up with humanity.