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French Quarter, Mississippi River, Algiers

Adventurers in New England

Chapter Twenty-Eight

French Quarter, Mississippi River crossing & a visit to Algiers 

New Orleans, LA


Robin Bowers

July 5, 2015


Text and Photos by Author
The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

Comments are appreciated at...

    O what a beautiful morning to start this third day in The Crescent City. The morning started out pleasantly but stormy conditions in late afternoon were in the forecast. After an enjoyable breakfast at the hotel buffet, I went across St. Charles Ave to the streetcar stop as I had the last past two days and bought my Jazzy one day pass. Today would start by a visit to The French Quarter.

    The French Quarter - some 90 blocks between Canal Street, Rampart Street, Esplanade Av. and the Mississippi River - represents the original French Colonial settlement of Nouvelle Orleans. Known as the Vieux Caree' (VOO cah-RAY) or "old square," the Quarter was laid out by military engineers in a simple gridiron pattern with straight narrow streets.

    This city lays claim to the oldest operating street railway line in the world, the oldest operation streetcars in North America, and an urban streetcar system that, in contrast to many other areas, has fought back from near extinction to expand along city streets that in some chases haven't enjoyed rail service in more than half a century. A look at the system begins, naturally enough, with the 6.5-mile-long St. Charles Avenue line, the undisputed world record holder for longevity. Service began on September 26, 1835, and for more than 180 years, through wars, riots, epidemics, hurricanes, and various other natural disasters, the St. Charles cars have posted an almost unbroken, unending story of reliability and success. Cars were initially pulled behind horses and even steam engines, and more than 50 years passed before the then-modern miracle of electricity made its appearance. On February 1, 1893, a parade of seven cars ushered New Orleans into the electric age. The St. Charles line was the first rail line in the city to be electrified, and it opened the door for what would rapidly follow. In less than 10 years, the day of the mule car had ended, replaced seemingly overnight by the exciting new technology that reached all corner of the city.

6211t New Orleans
        street on St. Charles Ave.

Only 35 cars remain from a fleet 73 of the  900 series cars built by the Perley-Thomas Car Co. in 1923-24. They were extensively rebuilt in the early 1960s, and further modified a few years later, leaving them in like new condition.

    I boarded the streetcar and rode it to the end of line on Canal St. There I would transfer to the Canal St. line and take that to the river bank. Then another transfer on the RiverFront Line to Jackson Square.

    At Bourbon and Canal, I left the St. Charles car and waited for a Canal St. car going my way.



Looking up Canal St. with my back to the Mississippi River and standing on neutral ground.


On Canal Street at Royal St. looking towards the river.

The lamppost banners are advertising the Essence Festival, 7/2 - 7/5 with Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar. This festival drew big crowds to the city, using the Super Dome, convention center and several hotel ballrooms for their events. It is an annual event here around Forth of July.


Scene at Levee, Handing Sugar, 1895: collotype by W.H. Parish Publishing Company.


Steamboat Natchez.


Steamboat Natchez docks at the Toulouse St. Wharf at Jackson Square. This stern-wheel steamboat is one of the last authentic steamboats on the Mississippi River.


US Bus 90 Bridge - Pontchartrain Expy.



Riverfront tracks on left and center. Right track is freight line. Looking toward French Market end of line.

6508t Jackson Square
        New Orleans

    Know as the Place d'Armes by the French and Plaza de Armas by the Spanish, Jackson Square was renamed in 1848 in honor of Gen. Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. Jackson Square is in the heart of the French Quarter between Decatur and Chartres Sts.  Old Hickory's equestrian statue stands at the center. The historic center of the city, Jackson Square is also the Quarter's unofficial Left Bank. Sidewalk artists, palm readers and street performers draw daily crowds.

    Now it was time for coffee and doughnuts.


  Experiencing a New Orleans tradition, Cafe' Du Monde. Except for facade renovations, not much has changed at this coffee stand since steaming cafe' au lait (a blend of equal parts of chicory coffee and hot milk) and beignets (fried, confectioners' sugar dusted doughnuts) were first served in 1862.




After a very enjoyable coffee break, I walked across the street to see Old Hickory and the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis King of France.





    Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis King of France is the crown jewel of Jackson Square. One of the oldest and most photographed churches in the country, the cathedral is a combination of three places of worship built on this site. The first church can be traced to 1727. The second was completed in 1794 as part of the beneficence of Don Andres Almonester de Roxas, who spent a substantial part of his fortune rebuilding New Orleans after the second great fire. Don Andres is among the distinguished Frenchmen and Spaniards interred in the church.


    Remodeling in 1851 maintained the original Spanish facade of the church, but the current nave was rebuilt in the style seen today. St Anthony's Garden behind the church was once part of the original vegetable garden and, contrary to legend, was never a dueling spot. The basilica remains an active force in the life of New Orleans. My cousin said she had attended several nice weddings here over the years.





After leaving this beautiful church, I walked outside to St. Ann St.


    Pontalba Buildings flank Jackson Square on St. Peter and St. Ann Sts.. The red brick apartment houses were erected in 1849 by the Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba, who is credited with transforming the dusty parade ground into a handsome garden park. The Renaissance-style buildings were intended to stem the uptown flow of business. Although they failed in that, for many years they were among New Orleans' most desirable addresses.




    The Shops at Jax Brewery, a complex of retail stores, kiosks and eateries overlooking the Mississippi River and the dock on the Steamboat Natchez, is at Decatur and St. Peters streets in a former turn-of-the-20th-century brewery.

6551t Old Mint in New

The 1835 structure was a federal mint 1836-61 and was the Confederacy's only mint for a few months in 1861. It continued as a US mint until 1909. The site was renovated in the 1850s and blends Classical Revival and  Victorian styles.




  French Quarter neighborhood adjacent to the Old Mint.




The French Market has its origins as a Choctaw trading ground even before the city was established by Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne in 1718. Among the Native American trade goods was a finely ground powder made from sassafras leaves- the file' (FEE-lay) sought by Creole cooks to thicken gumbo.


    The market complex consists of a series of colonnaded buildings stretching along Decatur and N. Peters streets from St. Ann to Barracks streets, with gift shops and bazaars, clothing stores, a candy cookery, more coffee stands and informal eateries.


The 13-foot-tall gilded statue of Joan of Arc on the Place de France, a tiny wedge of ground. A gift from the people of France, the Maid of Orleans stands as another reminder of the city's French connection.







The courtyard of the Archbishop Antoine Blanc Memorial complex, which contains the Old Ursuline Convent. Constructed in 1745 during the French occupation the convent is one of the city's oldest buildings.


Looking down Chartres St.



On the northwest corner of Bourbon and Philip Streets is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the French Quarter. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, now a tavern, dates to 1772. The privateer Lafitte brothers were said to run the shop as a front for their smuggling enterprises.




The green fence fronting a guest house at 915 Royal is a whimsical piece of iron artistry, crafted in Philadelphia around 1834. A similar fence surrounds a Fourth Street Garden District mansion.



Looking up the long corridor of Rue Royal. This the French Quarter of novelists, satirists and playwrights: a setting for John Kennedy Toole's outrageous "A Confederacy of Dunces," the backdrop of Keyes' historical fiction and the inspiration for a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Tennessee Williams. Although Blanche DuBois' streetcar named Desire doesn't pass this way anymore (the line was removed in the late 1940s, after Williams' play was published), the Quarter's mystique, romance and allure have preserved for future literati.


Labranche Building.


St. Anthony's Garden


A popular nightspot


In the French Quarter, you can take your drink outside as long as it is in a plastic or paper cup. After the bars close, sometimes they need to use fire hoses to clean the streets.


Rev Zombies Voodoo Shop.


This four-story 1811 structure conceived as the first "skyscraper." Protests that the subsoil would not support such a tall edifice halted it a three floors; the fourth was added 65 years later.




Antoine's, one of New Orleans' oldest family-operated restaurants. French-born founder Antoine Alcistore's son created the establishment's signature dish, oysters Rockefeller - so named for its rich sauce- here in the late 1800s.


Bourbon Street.


Broussard's was established in 1920 by Parisian-trained chef Joseph Broussard.


At the corner of Bourbon and Conti is the Famous Door. Jazz greats have played this stage since 1934, and a roster of the luminaries who have entered to be entertained frames the portal.




The oversize 1910 Beaux Arts-style style structure first housed and state courts, then the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. The Louisiana Supreme Court now resides in the Civil Courts Building.


The grand old Bank of Louisiana building at 334 Royal now serves as the French Quarter 8th District Police Station.


On the far side of the police station on Chartres is K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen. Chef Paul Prudhomme helped make Cajun cooking a household name with the opening of his restaurant in 1979.

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, 416 Chartres St.


Next door to K-Paul's: Second City Criminal Court/ Third Precinct Police Station.

    Having finished up my AAA Walking Tour of the French Quarter, I followed Chartres back to the heart of the Vieux Carre', with cathedral spires in view. Arriving back at Jackson Square, I walked through it and then mounted the steps at Washington Artillery Park for panorama of the historic plaza in one direction and in the other a view of the mighty Mississippi River.


Standing on the levee at Moon Walk Park
    While here and talking to a local, who told me about the Canal St. Ferry that went to Algiers, across the river. He was a good salesman so I decided to make the trip and get a different view of the Crescent City. I had the free time and would be able to ride the Riverfront street car to the dock.




    Creole Queen departs from the Canal Street dock at the Riverwalk and offers a historical battlefield cruise that stops at the Chalmette Battlefield allowing time to disembark, visit and learn about this decisive battle that changed American history.


    Between the Moonwalk park and the steps down to Jackson Square, is the right-of-way for the two Riverfront tracks and the one freight line. Dubbed the Riverfront line, service began on August 14, 1988. The line parallels the Mississippi River, running beside the riverfront levee and skirting the eastern edge of the French Quarter, through an area that never had streetcar service. It was built entirely on private right-of-way, along what was once mainline trackage of the L&N Railroad.

    Today, the Riverfront line is an integral part of the New Orleans streetcar system. The line reaches from the French Market to the Convention Center, passing the Audubon Aquarium, major hotels and various tourist attractions on lower Canal Street, cruise ship terminals and the ferry and riverboat landings along the river. The line still hasn't lost its railroad ancestry though. Trains of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad still rumble by on the adjacent track.




I used my Jazzy pass to ride to the end of line from Jackson Square to the end of line and back to the Canal St. ferry dock.


Creole Queen in front and behind is a Carnival Cruise ship. Photo taken after the ferry just left the dock.





The ride over was short and pleasant and paid with my Jazzy pass. After disembarking and walking from the ferry terminal (Morgan St.) upon arriving in Algiers, I saw the Louis Armstrong statue. 




Limited commercialism here, this is a bed-room neighborhood.


I am west of the Mississippi River for the first time in over three weeks.


A tank car freight train can be seen passing Jackson Square.


Carnival Dream.

    After about an hour visit, I decided to end the exploring and recross the river. Returning to the ferry terminal I boarded the next crossing with a view of river traffic.


Heading out to the high seas.



Spanish Plaza at the Canal Street Dock.

    After docking I walked over to Harrah's New Orleans Casino thinking maybe I could finding a place to get a bite to eat. The casino floor was the biggest one I ever been in. The place was packed and all the eateries were very busy so I decided to head back to the hotel now and get supper later on.


Canal St. Streetcar  2013 with Loyola/UPT heading and Harrah's Casino on the right.

    After leaving the casino, the plan was to take the Canal St. streetcar to St. Charles Ave and transfer to the St. Charles Line and back to the hotel. Arriving at the streetcar stop, I joined the small crowd assembled. Soon I discovered why the crowd was growing quickly. Several packed full cars passed by without stopping, occurring at the same time the sky's dark clouds portended an unmistakable storm approaching. Then the wind picked up and it was blowing trash everywhere, the temperatures were dropping and the queue was rapidly growing. I decided not stand here any longer as rain drops began to fall, bypassed the Canal St streetcar and walked the five blocks to St. Charles Ave and get the street car there. The walk was short but crowded as others also thought this was a good plan. Arriving at the St. Charles stop, there was a crowd waiting there and several full cars pass by. Shortly a car came by that I could board and I took it back to hotel. Once there I stopped next door at Popeye's for a to-go dinner. After eating my meal, I started to repack for tomorrow's departure. Tomorrow I will finish my return to the West Coast on Amtrak's Sunset Limited.

Tomorrow: Leaving The Crescent City on the Sunset Limited.

Go to next Chapter - Twenty-seven,  West bound on Sunset Limited

Return to last Chapter - Twenty-seven,  Garden District, Chalmette Battlefield

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Text and Photos by Author

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

Comments are appreciated at...