Today’s Vieux Carré, also known as the French Quarter, is the
85-square -block original footprint of New Orleans. It is home
to nearly 4,000 residents, many of whom work and shop in this
walkable neighborhood. It is also the center of well-established
andprominent citizen associations, some of the oldest and most
significant buildings in the city, and the location of the oldest
community theater and the oldest cathedral in the country.
Hollywood celebrities and young entrepreneurs mix with older,
long-term residents, keeping the neighborhood at once quaint
and glamorously exciting. Intimate but anonymous, New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood has exerted a spell over writers and artists in its three centuries of existence, including William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote.
By the 1930s, however, this once-proud neighborhood of aristocratic Creole had fallen into neglect, and many called for
its demolition. Instead, local activists fought for, and won, establishment of the Vieux Carré local historic district in 1936. Exterior changes to buildings are still governed today by the View Carré Commission, a city agency charged with ensuring that the tout ensemble, or historic character of the neighborhoods’ streetscapes, is preserved.
French Quarter architecture is a mix of Spanish, French, Creole and American styles. Look for a prevalence of Creole cottages, double shotgun houses, three-story masonry buildings that feature a middle entresol level, and galleried townhomes. Plastered walls and single chimneys reflect fire laws enacted after blazes virtually leveled the neighborhood twice at the end of the 18th century. Courtyards and arched fanlight windows are a gift of the Spanish influence, while American ingenuity is to thank for the proliferation of cast iron balconies. These lacy balconies, fragrant vines, vibrant colors and characters from all walks of life make a stroll through the Vieux Carré a transcendent experience.
Many thanks to the Preservation Resource Center for providing this wonderful information! (www.prcno.org)