FRENCH QUARTER

The French Quarter, famous the world over, is in actuality the original city of New Orleans founded by Bienville in 1718. Also known as the Vieux Carré, or Old Square, this historic neighborhood was once enclosed by ramparts when the city was first laid out by the engineer, Adrian de Pauger. Rampart Street is today one of the boundaries of the Quarter, as is Esplanade Avenue, the Mississippi River and Iberville Street. New Orleans was named for Philip II, Duke of Orleans and Regent during the infancy of Louis XV of France. John Law, a clever Scot, convinced the Regent that a financial system could be devised with the establishment of a central bank, the capital of which would be the revenue of the state. The bank would issue paper money, bank- notes, that would represent shares in the imagined success of the royal colony known as the Mississippi Company. Law promoted this new enterprise with gusto calling for this new settlement to be named Nouvelle Orleans.

Seven blocks by eleven, the original city had streets named for the bastard children of Louis XIV, such as the Duke du Maine and the Comte de Toulouse. His illegitimate daughters married the Dukes of Chartres and Bourbon. Besides the "royal" street names there were also the saints. Saint Louis IX, King of France, takes the most prominent position in naming the colony itself, as well as St. Louis Cathedral in the center of the Vieux Carré on Jackson Square (once called Place D'Armes).

The Cabildo and Presbytere are on either side of the Cathedral with the famous Pontalba Apartments flanking both sides of Jackson Square. This is by far one the most breathtaking vistas in America. Although fires in 1788 and 1794, when the Spanish governed the colony, destroyed much of the original French architecture, the thriving port city soon rebuilt beautiful structures with deep, narrow buildings and rear courtyards surrounded by the adjoining buildings. Lacy balconies added romance to this mostly Spanish influenced construction. This is why the French Quarter has a Mediterranean ambiance. Since Spain was for so many years under Moorish influence, its architecture is more North African or Arabic in its influence. The sheltered courtyards that make New Orleans famous are really symbolic of what goes on "behind the veil" of this enchanting city. The Quarter today is a magnet for tourists from all over the world, yet it still has a vibrant neighborhood life. Shops, hotels, and late-night attractions are just part of its allure.

The antique shops of Royal Street, the Jackson Brewery's shopping complex overlooking the river, the House of Blues, Galatoire's, Antoine's and Breakfast at Brennan's are just some of the innumerable attractions. In addition, there is the Aquarium of the Americas, Woldenberg Park and the Moonwalk. Mule-drawn carriages make their daily trek along the picturesque streets to the old French Market, or perhaps a stop by Café Du Monde for mouthwatering beignets. Every year there is the French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Spring Fiesta, just to name a few of the many events that take place each year in this remarkable neighborhood. A wonderful gumbo of both commercial and residential, old and new, the Vieux Carré continues to have a rich neighborhood life centered around the old city center for almost three hundred years. And now you know that Bourbon Street wasn't named for that whiskey distilled in Kentucky ...although it has been known to be consumed here.