Scenic USA - Louisiana
|Photos by Ben Prepelka
During the early 1800s, long before automobile travel, most western cities were located on the waterfront. New Orleans, a great example of a riverfront town, became a 19th century success because of its location. With its easy access the Gulf of Mexico, the prosperous city evolved into a main commercial hub. By 1840, New Orleans was the third most populous city in America.
When containerized shipping sidelined the New Orleans riverfront shipping wharves in the 1990s, the city transformed the Warehouse District into today's Art District and Riverwalk. Visitors now flock to the riverfront, enjoying shopping, music, theater, famous cuisine, dinner cruises, riverboat gambling and all the sights on the mighty Mississippi River.
One of America's most famous cities, home to the Mardi Gras, distinctive jazz music, 20 historic districts and one of a kind hotels and restaurants, visitors can't leave without a trip to Bourbon Street. Honoring the French House of Bourbon and one of the most recognized street names in America, Bourbon Street is a pleasant mix of historic architecture, neon lights, jazz clubs and city hot-spots.
More interesting tour stops in the city include New Orleans cemeteries. Unlike most other regions in the country, city cemeteries bury their dead above ground in vaults and tombs. Despite the myths of a high water table, the above-ground gravesites are just a long standing tradition. Here in the French Quarter, St Louis Cemetery holds more than 100,000 dead in just one city block. Again, it's common practice to place more than one body in the family tomb. Among the city's 42 cemeteries, St Louis Cemetery is the oldest, opening in 1789.
A walking tour, estimated to take 1-1/2 hours, highlights three dozen historic homes, churches, hotels, and shops. Featuring an exception collection of French, Spanish and some British architecture, the French Quarter Historic district is said to be alive any time of the day. Taking the New Orleans streetcar is another great way to see the city. Each of the three lines, St. Charles, Canal Street, and the Riverfront, originates downtown, wisking passengers to different parts of the city. One-way fares are $1.25, with one, three and five day unlimited ride passes available.
Nicknamed the Big Easy, referring to its laid-back attitude and easy-going lifestyle, New Orleans is one of the top southern travel destinations. With New Orleans tourism employing over 70,000 people, the city's record breaking cultural festival attendance, and a substantial recovery after Hurricane Katrina, it's easy to cheer on the city's unofficial motto "laissez les bons temps rouler" (let the good times roll).
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