Jackson Square, New Orleans
Favorite thing: Jackson Square (or Place d'Armes) used to be a place for public meetings and executions. Now it's a nice square to walk around and enjoy the park with its iron benches, flowerbeds, and lawns. From the park you can also make lovely pics of the St. Louis Cathedral and the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson.
The Pontalba buildings with their elegant cast-iron balconies sit on either side of Jackson Square. These townhomes were built by an enterprising Baroness, Micaela Pontalba in the late 1840's. In order to build them, she had to petition the city to revise the original street design.
If you read my tip on St. Louis Cathedral, you may recognize the name. Her father, Don Andres Almanester was instrumental in rebuilding that structure after it was ravaged by a fire in 1788.
Michaela resided in New Orleans for a time, then departed for France when married. A messy divorce drew her back to New Orleans, where she set to planning the construction of these townhomes.
Aside from the townhomes, she helped finance the square's landscaping and provided funds to erect the statue of Andrew Jackson there. Then, after all of this do-gooding, she returned to Paris and later died there.
Currently, the buildings are owned by the state on one side and the city on the other*. The area is now is a pedestrian-only zone with assorted shops, a visitors center and restaurants.
*The Pontalba buildings sit on St. Ann St. and St. Peter St. with Jackson Square in the middle
The entire time I was preparing for New Orleans I was so afraid of the crime, dark streets, etc. However, I was never fearful at any point in time. I was out late in the French Quarter and never felt nervous. Outside the French Quarter I don't know but inside I was just fine. And it was just me and another girl friend of mine. So, please don't be nervous!! It's just like being out late in any other city.
Fondest memory: My best memory was strolling around Jackson Square in the morning. Everyone was friendly, the sun was shining and everything looked peaceful. New Orleans deserves the benefit of the doubt. It's a wonderful city!
Favorite thing: New Orleans is a wedding destination. There are weddings all around Jackson Square and in Pirates Alley. See New Orleans Weddings for details on how to elope to New Orleans. www.figstreet.com/weddings/
Favorite thing: New Orleans, like Las Vegas, is now a quicky wedding destination place. The marriage license office is open on Saturday and there is no medical test or wait. People can elope get married and stay for a honeymoon in the country's most interesting city. For detals see Getting Married In Jackson Sqaure web page. http://www.geocities.com/nolachapel/jacksonsquarewed.html
Order a cafe au lait & beignets at the Cafe du Monde on Jackson Square...
Fondest memory: Taking my morning run through the French Quarter before the city really wakes up. The only ones up and about were the trash collectors, the bus drivers & shopkeepers... My route took me from my hotel on Chartres, down Canal Street to the river, where I turned left at the Aquarium (near Harrah's casino), ran down the riverside (the river's higher than the rest of the city, you know!) as far as I could (that's the Market), and wound my way around to Jackson Square back to my hotel. As I ran around, I took note of places that I wanted to see later in the day or week.
Favorite thing: Stroll down BOURBON ST. in the evening ! There are so many different restaurants, bars, jazz & blues clubs, cafes, etc...... that it's hard to know where to begin. But nobody ever seems to hurry in New Orleans (unlike us 'serious' Bostonians!), so you can take your time. Another place to visit is JACKSON SQUARE, formerly known as 'Place d'Armes' since it served as the parade ground for French and Spanish troops during colonial times. You can also sample cafe au lait and beignets at CAFE DU MONDE, which is just across the street from St. Louis Cathedral (shown here in photo). This is the place for people-watching, as well, and there are street performers galore!
Favorite thing: Street scenes in Jackson Square are always lively, even in mid morning when this was shot. There's a band playing on this corner, several locals with nothing else to do sitting around digging it, and a constant flow of passers by with sudden attacks of boogie woogie in their pants.
keep your eyes open! The French Quarter and the riverfront areas are prime walker's country. Go slow and soak up the atmosphere: jazz, food, and a certain just-under-the-surface sensuality that is unique to this city. There's lots of street life, too, from break dancers to mimes to people dressed outrageously just to be noticed. You never know what or who you may see.
Photo: A break dancer keeps passers-by entertained near Jackson Square.
Favorite thing: Inside the French Quarters is Jackson Park. This is a must see. There are manicured lawns, street vendors and colorful characters.
Favorite thing: New Orleans has plenty of local artists working and displaying along the major street corners near the Jackson Square area. Many of them have exceptional work.