Thursday, December 24, 2009

New Orleans: Day 1

I spent most of the day walking around the French Quarter, enjoying that I was in a city that was walkable with sidewalks. The City has done such a good job of keeping 20th century buildings out of the Quarter that the whole place has a foreign feel to it.

Bourbon Street is the PG-13 version of Amsterdam's Red Light District.

Bourbon Street: Strip Clubs.
Amsterdam: Live Sex Shows.

Bourbon Street: Women selling jello shots on the sidewalk.
Amsterdam: Drugs being sold all over the place and the air saturated with the smell of weed.

What's so American about the Quarter is that cars are allowed in it. Half the Quarter is essentially an outdoor mall with bars, restaurants and shops. Every European city that has something similar closes some or most of the streets off to traffic. It's crazy that they don't do this in the Quarter, and it's even crazier how reckless the drivers are in it.

Right outside of the Quarter is St. Louis Cemetery #1. I thought it is neat how vertical the cemetery was due to limited horizontal space (pictured below is a four person tomb tower). Apparently people would form societies so that they could pull there money to buy a large plot of land in the cemetery and then building a tall multi-tomb mausoleum.

The downtown area feels like a Northeast city with its many turn of the century brick and stone buildings.

I was surprised how much of a dump Canal St. is -- lots of cheap retail stores and fast food joints. For those familiar with Philadelphia, think Market Street between City Hall and 6th St.

One other complaint of the city: the streets are in horrible condition. It looks like the streets have not been repaved in at least 10 or 15 years. There are massive potholes and cracks everywhere. Where they have filled them in, often too much asphalt has been used leaving the road quite bumpy. Further, some of the streets are not asphalt but concrete slabs. These streets are totally deteriorating. Pedestrian street lights are also out all over the city.

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