Friday, December 18, 2015
23. Places in the US that Macrine and I had Visited-New Orleans, Louisiana
Macrine and I visited New Orleans in the late 1970's during an American Chemical Society Meeting. We stayed at the Hyatt Hotel just across the Louisiana SuperDome and Convention Center. During the day, I attend the meeting , but after 5PM we were free to enjoy Bourbon Street and the French Quarters. We also took the bus tour of the city and surrounding areas. We attended a jazz concert. We saw the raised cemetery plots( above-ground tombs), antique homes and shoppes. It was a week to remember. Although, it was not Mardi Gras when we visited the city, there was always a long line during lunch and dinner time. We did enjoy the hurricane rum drinks and the ethnic dishes ( Creole).
New Orleans has many major attractions, from the world-renowned French Quarter and Bourbon Street's notorious nightlife to St. Charles Avenue (home of Tulane and Loyola Universities, the historic Pontchartrain Hotel, and many 19th century mansions), to Magazine Street, with its many boutique stores and antique shops.
According to current travel guides, New Orleans is one of the top ten most visited cities in the United States; 10.1 million visitors came to New Orleans in 2004, and the city was on pace to break that level of visitation in 2005. Prior to Katrina, there were 265 hotels with 38,338 rooms in the Greater New Orleans Area. In May 2007 there were over 140 hotels and motels in operation with over 31,000 rooms.
A 2009 Travel + Leisure poll of "America's Favorite Cities" ranked New Orleans first in ten categories, the most first-place rankings of the 30 cities included. According to the poll, New Orleans is the best U.S. city as a spring break destination and for "wild weekends," stylish boutique hotels, cocktail hours, singles/bar scenes, live music/conerts and bands, antique and vintage shops, cafés/coffee bars, neighborhood restaurants, and people-watching. The city also ranked second for gay friendliness (behind San Francisco, California), friendliness (behind Charleston, South Carolina), bed and bath hotels and inns, and ethnic food. However the city was voted last in terms of active residents and near the bottom in cleanliness, safety, and as a family destination.
The French Quarter (known locally as "the Quarter" or Vieux Carré), which dates from the French and Spanish eras and is bounded by the Mississippi River, Rampart Street, Canal Street, and Esplanade Avenue, contains many popular hotels, bars, and nightclubs. Notable tourist attractions in the Quarter include Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the French Market (including Café du Monde, famous for café au lait and beignets) and Preservation Hall. To tour the port, one can ride the Natchez, an authentic steamboat with a calliope, which cruises the Mississippi the length of the city twice daily. The city's many beautiful cemeteries and their distinct above-ground tombs are often attractions in themselves, the oldest and most famous of which, Saint Louis Cemetery, greatly resembles Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Also located in the French Quarter is the old New Orleans Mint, a former branch of the United States Mint, which now operates as a museum, and The Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum and research center housing art and artifacts relating to the history of New Orleans and the Gulf South. The National World War II Museum, opened in the Warehouse District in 2000 as the "National D-Day Museum", is dedicated to providing information and materials related to the Invasion of Normandy. Nearby, Confederate Memorial Hall, the oldest continually operating museum in Louisiana (although under renovation since Katrina), contains the second-largest collection of Confederate memorabilia in the world. Art museums in the city include the Contemporary Arts Center, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
New Orleans also boasts a decidedly natural side. It is home to the Audubon Nature Institute (which consists of Audubon Park, the Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium of the Americas, and the Audubon Insectarium), as well as gardens that include Longue Vue House and Gardens and the New Orleans Botanical Garden. City Park, one of the country's most expansive and visited urban parks, has one of the largest (if not the largest) stands of oak trees in the world. There are also various points of interest in the surrounding areas. Many wetlands are in close proximity to the city, including Honey Island Swamp. Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery, located just south of the city, is the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.
New Orleans is almost synonymous to Hurricane Katrina(2005). New Orleans was catastrophically impacted by the failure of the Federal levee system during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. By the time the hurricane approached the city at the end of August 2005, most residents had evacuated. As the hurricane passed through the Gulf Coast region, the city's federal flood protection system failed, resulting in the worst civil engineering disaster in American history. Floodwalls and levees constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers failed below design specifications and 80% of the city flooded. Tens of thousands of residents who had remained in the city were rescued or otherwise made their way to shelters of last resort at the Louisiana Superdome or the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Over 1,500 people died in Louisiana and some are still unaccounted for. Hurricane Katrina called for the first mandatory evacuation in the city's history, the second of which came 3 years later with Hurricane Gustav.
Note: This is No.23 (Part 1) of a series of articles that the Katague Family had visited in the US since 1960.