Madame Vieux CarrÃ©
The French Quarter in the Twentieth Century
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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For New Orleans’s first century, 1718–1818, its history and that of the French Quarter were roughly congruent. The second century, 1818–1918, saw American ascendancy in the city diminishing the role of the original French settlement. The 1917 closing of Storyville, a nominal triumph of alien...
To Set the Scene
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La Nouvelle-Orl�ans was established in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, as the southern anchor of French Louisiana. The first settlement was along the northeast bank of a sharp bend of the Mississippi, on the highest ground of a mostly swampy terrain. From 1763 to 1800, New Orleans was owned by the Spanish1 and then was...
CHAPTER 1. 1900–1920: The Quarter Faces a New Century
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Let us step back to a time gone, but still, it seems, just around the next corner in this one special place. Its inhabitants believed in passing fancies, followed street mobs, and listened to long speeches. They were quick to laugh, quick to cry, and sometimes quick to anger—a people whose...
CHAPTER 2. 1920–1930: The Firebird of Preservation
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Preservation of the old, the worn-out, and the frowsy was not an American trait just after World War I. Progress led forward on the wheels of automobiles and the wings of biplanes. The new vernacular of architecture was the skyscraper, the sprawling factory, and the tract house of muddled...
CHAPTER 3. 1930–1946: The Struggle for the Tout Ensemble
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The New York stock market crash of October 1929 sent out ripples—some faster, some slower—across the country. For many reasons, the South was slow to feel the effects. The South was still largely agrarian and had suffered from depressed crop prices throughout the 1920s. Poor southerners had not been able to buy stocks on margin and so were not...
CHAPTER 4. 1946–1961: Official Vices and Dissenting Voices
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Chep Morrison was unlike any mayor New Orleans had seen. Some former mayors had been readily accessible; Martin Behrman (mayor 1904–1920 and 1925–1926) often drove his own horse and buggy around the city,1 and Maestri, at least in his first phase, popped up all...
CHAPTER 5. 1961–1971: Culture and Counterculture
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Monitoring the status quo of the Quarter is a daunting task. Even in such a small enclave, the dense streetscape, the gates and porte cocheres conceal much. Before the 1960s, it depended largely on the Vieux Carr� Commission staff noticing changes in walkabouts, neighbors bringing complaints to the VCC, and the review of building...
CHAPTER 6. INTERLUDE: “Goin’ Down by My Mama’s”: Transportation and the Quarter
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The Vieux Carré was originally laid out for pedestrians, horses, and horse-drawn wagons. A few hitching posts may still be seen, bent from many collisions with automobiles. The compact size—about a mile from one end to the other—makes the enclave eminently walkable. The Quarter is one of the last urban areas that may be walked through...
CHAPTER 7. 1971–1978: Moon Rise
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The 1970s would be a time of tremendous change in the Vieux Carr� and in New Orleans. The first half of the decade saw the beginning of a fundamental change in the character of Decatur Street, the reworking of Jackson Square, and the renovation of the French Market. The second half of the decade would see the ascendency of black political power and...
CHAPTER 8. INTERLUDE: Odd Folks
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Port cities around the world are known as havens. Havens for those at the end of the road. Havens for those whose road never started, and, taking root in a landscape of transient people and relative mores, they find refuge from the busybody world beyond. The Vieux Carr� has been a...
CHAPTER 9. INTERLUDE: Tourism
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Mass tourism and the Quarter began a long dance in the twentieth century. Even before Saxon and Flo Fields arrived in the teens, the contrast between the archaic old village and the Edwardian spirit of progress was being sold as “charm.” In 1907, the Illinois Central Railroad, in...
CHAPTER 10. 1978–1994: The Long Slide Down
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Sometime around 1974, New Orleans became a majority black city.1 Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization, edited by Arnold R. Hirsch and Joseph Logsdon,2 is a concise study of the emergence of black political power in the city. It is interesting to contrast Chai’s 1971 study with the Hirsch and Logsdon volume, which cuts off at 1992. In the...
CHAPTER 11. INTERLUDE: The Lakeside, Strike Three
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The area of North Rampart Street abutting the Quarter had fallen on hard times after the construction of the Iberville housing project in 1940. Removed from the oversight of the VCC in 1946, it had fallen into a political and social limbo. Across North Rampart lay the Faubourg Trem�, a long-established black middle-class neighborhood. Opposite...
CHAPTER 12. INTERLUDE: Time and Life in the Quarter
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Time is different in New Orleans and especially so in the Quarter. Yes, there are calendars and clocks, but in the main, they are simply onlookers, not pacesetters of life as elsewhere. Time here ebbs, flows, loops back on itself, passes slower than molasses and faster than a schnapps shooter. The rising of the sun signals the end of a night in the bars. The...
CHAPTER 13. 1994–2000: A Dance Before the Rain
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Mississippi, New Orleans’s morally dour, sometimes sour, and ever-conservative eastern neighbor, had authorized casino gambling, on a local-option basis, in 1990.1 Other communities, such as Deadwood, South Dakota, had authorized gambling, hoping to emulate the riches of Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Natives of the Mississippi Gulf...
CHAPTER 14. 2000 AND ON: Into the New Century
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The Vieux Carré and its full-time residents live on an island shrinking in intangible but palpable ways. As condos displace apartments, the number of year-round residents has dropped to historic lows. At this writing, the number of permanent residents seems somewhere in the low thousands. The Vieux Carré’s status as the crown jewel of the city’s tourist trade keeps that aspect on the mind of the city government. It also...
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Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2010