These days New Orleanians describe their lifestyles using the terms “pre-Katrina” and “post-Katrina.” The devastating hurricane and its aftermath are still felt almost eight years later. But because post-Katrina New Orleans has shed its own storm-sacked facades, a canvas of style chance has taken root. There is a new buzz in town, and signs of real recovery are revealing in repopulated areas where rebuilt and renovated homes in both traditional and contemporary styles are springing up.
And the energy has certainly spread outside the city’s boundaries. The town had the second-highest number of people in its own history in 2012. The year before Katrina hit, the record before that was in 2004.
The rugged town has endured many hardships over its past 300 years, but that is what makes it a uniqueness revered around the world. Since the celebrated birthplace of jazz along with heaps of culinary specialties — gumbo along with the po’ boy, to name two — what has emerged is an intense mix of ethnicities nestled between the largest saltwater lake and the largest river system in North America. If you plan to visit New Orleans — declared “new OR-luhns,” not “new or-LEENS” or even “new or-le-ANS” or even “NAW-lins” — the following design-minded destinations can help peel back the storied layers of its foundation.
Location: Along the Mississippi River on Decatur Street
Noteworthy: Across the Road, the historic Cafe Du Monde isopen 24 hours and sells powdered beignets, a deep-fried pastry that is omnipresent in New Orleans.
Over the centuries that this historic central square in the French Quarter community once held public executions of criminals; it now hosts regular art sales and live music events. The Saint Louis Cathedral across from Jackson Square is worth a trip. The design of Jackson Square mimics the Parisian Place de Vosges.
A mule-drawn carriage, such as the one found here, can take you on a guided tour of the area. The carriages line up along the Decatur Street side. Or pop into the French Quarter Visitor Center and join a ranger-lead tour along the riverfront starting at 9:30 a.m.
Additional info: Jackson Square,Cafe Du Monde, Saint Louis Cathedral, French Quarter Visitor Center
National World War II Museum
Location: 945 Magazine St.
Cost: Adults, $22; seniors, $19; grades K through 12 and those with a military ID, $13
Devote a few hours to the National World War II Museum, on the edge of downtown Warehouse District. Voorsanger Architects of New York designed this new addition — The Freedom Pavilion; it is an impressive modern complex using a 4-D theater, revived bits, interactive displays and historical World War II–era machines.
More info: National World War II Museum
The Freedom Pavilion is a space with mezzanine levels. Fully restored Boeing planes with motors and mannequin pilots hang from above.
The uppermost mezzanines provide this skyline opinion and a sneak peak at the expansion of the museum — a $300 million project anticipated to be completed in 2015.
New Orleans Museum of Art
Location: 1 Collins Diboll Circle
Cost: Adults, $10; seniors, $8; active military and students with ID, $8; children ages seven to 17, $6; age 6 and under, free
Noteworthy: Free admission on Wednesdays
While the art within is a definite need to to check outside, the City Park outdoors is a destination all its own. It is the 2nd biggest urban park in the U.S., following New York City’s Central Park. Have a ride in an authentic Venetian gondola around waterways and the tributaries.
More info: New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park
A walk through the sculpture garden outside the museum is recommended.
Royal Street: A center for art and historical French Quarter civilization one block parallel to Bourbon Street
Location: French Quarter
Noteworthy: The street is filled with galleries, antiques stores and Spanish architecture
Through the French Quarter, historic gallery homes such as the one displayed here, with Spanish wrought iron accents, date back to soon after the 1788 fire. Since the Spanish were ruling at the moment, these structures made from adobe brick and with flat roofs replaced with the common pitched roofs and wooden structures of the French style.
More info: Royal Street, French Market
Together Royal Street you will find a bustling art scene comprising many fashions, with work in the local and international artists. Art from Francoise Gilot, a former mistress of Pablo Picasso who was also the mother of two of his four children, matches the Vincent Mann Gallery. Gilot’s work spans many decades, and Picasso’s effect on her is incontrovertible.
The Galerie D’Art Francais is also worth a stop.
More info: Vincent Mann Gallery, Galerie D’Art Francais
You could spend all day wandering the French Quarter antiques stores — particularly if you’re a lover of antiques from the Louis XIV era.
And you’re most likely to get famished, so catch a fried shrimp po’ boy at Central Grocery or some jambalaya or even etouffee at Coop’s Place on Decatur.
More info: Central Grocery, Coop’s Place
Frenchman Street: A down-tempo nighttime destination using a local audience and live music
Location: Faubourg Marigny neighborhood
Noteworthy: No cover charge, and in New Orleans you’re welcome to take your drink with you out in a ” go cup.”
For a more relaxing atmosphere compared to mania and exhaustion you will experience on Bourbon Street during the night, Frenchman Street in the neighboring Marigny (pronounced “MARE-uhn-nee) neighborhood is the place to go. Brass bands and blues bands burst.
And if you’re partying like a local, it is recommended that you drink just like one, too. Abita Amber is the most popular beer, but other favorites include NOLA and Covington Strawberry.
A crowd gathers at dusk on Frenchman Street for an art walk adjacent to the Spotted Cat Music Club, which is a jazz and bluesmusic place in the center of the neighborhood.
More info: Spotted Cat Music Club
Location: 214 Royal St.
Cost: From $169 a night
Noteworthy: The resort offers Writer Suites, devoted to famous American authors in the South who have either remained at the resort, written about the resort or both.
Ernest Hemingway stayed at the Hotel Monteleone, as did other notable celebrities who now have suites named afterwards, such as Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty and William Faulkner. The hotel is in the center of the French Quarter, so it is perfect as a base from which to explore the city.
The building was originally constructed in 1886 in Beaux-Arts style; it has gotten lots of expansions since then, the most recent of which was in 1964. Climb to the top to get a rooftop pool and bar, in addition to some amazing views of the French Quarter and town.
More info: Hotel Monteleone
Hemingway mentioned the Monteleone’s famous Carousel Bar and Lounge, which rotates slowly around the bar staff in the middle, in his short story The Night Before Battle. Apianist and trumpeter offer live jazz nightly from behind the bar.
Suggestion: Ask for a Sazerac, a whiskey cocktail that originated in the French Quarter at the Sazerac House.
More info: Carousel Bar and Lounge
W French Quarter
W French Quarter
Location: 316 Chartres St.
Cost: From $199 per night
Situated on Chartres Street, only blocks from Jackson Square, the W has the shell of a traditional Spanish adobe brick structure with modern flair indoors. You can take a cocktail in the courtyard, which is a fantastic hangout for anyone coming in off the street.
Since the French Quarter is famous for its historic style, the inside of the W is a welcome visual treat of modern sensibility. Here French Quarter dividers stay but take on a whole new decorative paired with the room’s picture capabilities.
More info: W French Quarter
Location: 2631 Prytania St.
Cost:$124 to $242 per night
If you would rather stay in a quieter neighborhood compared to noisy French Quarter and downtown, a bed-and-breakfast in a historic Garden District mansion is probably more your style. The Sully Mansion, designed by influential New Orleans architect Thomas Sully in 1890, is a Queen Anne–fashion B and B that provides eight guest rooms. It is a block from the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line, which can cause you to downtown and the French Quarter in a couple of minutes.
Sully, along with architect James Freret, is recognized as being responsible for a lot of the appearance of uptown New Orleans, which is among those few remaining Sully-designed homes in town.
More info: Sully Mansion
The mansion stairs are a tasteful welcome. Proprieter Judy Fournier and Grace the puppy can be found to make your trip to New Orleans a memorable one.
Merchant Contemporary Cafe and Wine Bar
Location: 800 Common St.
Noteworthy: In the Maritime, a historic downtown building
Start your evening with a croissant and coffee at Merchant. Ammar Eloueini designed the space, which Wisznia Architecture and Development, situated in precisely the exact same building, developed.
Thomas Sully originally designed the building in 1893, but it is now a mixed-use structure with contemporary and offices residences above, similar to Beta, a contemporary shared workspace in New Orleans that Wisznia also developed.
More info: Merchant, Beta
Some of my favourite pieces of architecture are those in which the shell of a historic structure holds a modern space indoors, as with Merchant café, shown here. The concept reveals the layers of background within town, and is a beautiful strategy of giving a second life to infrastructure without even mimicking yesteryear or sacrificing quality.
Utilize Merchant’s complimentary Wi-Fi while munching on a touch crepe.
Stein’s Market and Deli
Location: 2207 Magazine St.
Cost: Muffuletta, $7; half-pound Quijote chorizo, $7
Noteworthy: Known for great sandwich meats and cheeses, but be sure to try the chorizo
If you have already had a po’ boy, then you’ll want to try another original New Orleans sandwich. Developed by Italian immigrants, the muffuletta (“muff-uh-LOTT-uh”), or muff for short, is both a word to spell out the bread that the sandwich is served and also the title of the sandwich. A muffuletta is obviously filled with Italian salami, Italian ham, cheese (generally provolone), minced garlic along with an olive salad, and is served cold. Stein’s Market and Deli serves some of the best in the city.
More info: Stein’s Market and Deli
Rum House Carribean Taqueria
Location: Magazine Street (uptown/Garden District)
Head toward uptown on Magazine Street following the World War II museum and refuel having a snack to eat in the Garden District, between downtown and uptown. Rum House Carribean Taqueria is a personal favorite; attempt the Carribean Tacos.
This place also has some fantastic boutiques that sell artwork, antiques and furniture. For the latter mind to Modern Market, a contemporary and modern furniture store with Le Corbusier and Eames pieces. You’ll discover stores with craftsman-quality wood furniture as well in this stretch of town.
More info: Rum House Carribean Taqueria, Modern Market
Tips and Etiquette
Let us be real; there is no getting around the reality that the names of meals, streets, people and a ton of other things in New Orleans are difficult to pronounce. Some words are simply too different, such as Tchoupitoulas (pronounced”chop-uh-TOO-luhz”) Street, etouffee (“ay-too-FAY”) or maque choux (“mahk shoo”).
Occasionally you may be better advised to forget what you may know about French pronunciations. New Orleanians mispronounce French words apparently on goal despite their history; they’re at odds with the French-speaking population in other parts of Louisiana. By way of example, locals pronounce Chartres as “charters”; additionally they pronounce the “T” in Carondelet and the “R” in Gravier.
Also, do not call the streetcar a trolley. And the median between the streets around the many French-style boulevards is known as the neutral ground.
Tell us What are your favorite design-minded places in New Orleans?