Adler's Time clock on Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019.
history history relevance practical history purpose of history using history

History Sells: NOLA

Adler's Time clock on Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019.
Adler’s Time clock on Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019.

Do you remember travelogues? Maybe I should be asking if you are old enough to remember travelogues because they haven’t been a thing for decades.

When I was a high schooler in the 1980s, travelogues were events wherein people who had gone on trips to exotic places would bring back slides and present them with commentary for a public audience. This was at a time when PowerPoint and digital slide decks didn’t exist, so these were physical slides (little squares of cardboard with a transparent photo film in between for those who have never seen a slide). At the time, most places around the world were considered exotic because people did not travel as much as they do now. High school students certainly didn’t; now high schoolers and college students are not considered well-rounded unless they have traveled out of state or out of the country on a school-sponsored field trip.

Having just returned from a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, (NOLA), I’m going to treat you to my digital travelogue. Try not to doze off because I’m going to tie this to a larger message about how history sells a community.

My key card for The Eliza Jane Hotel, New Orleans, LA, August 2019.
My key card for The Eliza Jane Hotel, New Orleans, LA, August 2019.

 

Our hotel room at The Eliza Jane on Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA, August 2019. Pretty standard looking hotel room, but look at that image on the wall of the man with the alligator. That images appears with historic newspaper advertising on wallpaper near the elevator.
Our hotel room at The Eliza Jane on Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA, August 2019. Pretty standard looking hotel room, but look at that image on the wall of the man with the alligator. That images appears with historic newspaper advertising on wallpaper near the elevator.

 

Ground floor lobby of The Eliza Jane Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. See the sturdy metal support columns? They hint at the former industrial history of this building. The Eliza Jane is a combination of several old warehouses/industrial buildings, one being the former home of the Times-Picayune newspaper, which was run by Eliza Jane Nicholson at an earlier time in its history.
Ground floor lobby of The Eliza Jane Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. See the sturdy metal support columns? They hint at the former industrial history of this building. The Eliza Jane is a combination of several old warehouses/industrial buildings, one being the former home of the Times-Picayune newspaper, which was run by Eliza Jane Nicholson at an earlier time in its history.

 

Old piece of equipment in lobby of The Eliza Jane Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. Did I read the plaque on the wall to see what this was? No, no I didn't. Can I read it by zooming in on the photo? Not a chance.
Old piece of equipment in lobby of The Eliza Jane Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. Did I read the plaque on the wall to see what this was? No, no I didn’t. Can I read it by zooming in on the photo? Not a chance.

 

Old building facade next to The Eliza Jane Hotel, Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. Even the facade of a building can evoke the history of a place without actually serving as a building anymore.
Old building facade next to The Eliza Jane Hotel, Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. Even the facade of a building can evoke the history of a place without actually serving as a building anymore.

 

Palm trees on river walk, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. The river walk was one of the few places we saw benches in the French Quarter. Look how nice and even the walkway is here. That is not the case for much of the French Quarter, which has many heaved and broken sidewalks, making you feel as though you are walking on history. Gotta keep watching your feet so you don't trip.
Palm trees on river walk, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. The river walk was one of the few places we saw benches in the French Quarter. Look how nice and even the walkway is here. That is not the case for much of the French Quarter, which has many heaved and broken sidewalks, making you feel as though you are walking on history. Gotta keep watching your feet so you don’t trip.

 

Me, in front of the Mighty Mississippi River, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019 Living as I do in a town located on the Mississippi in Minnesota, the state that is the birthplace of the river, the only real goal I set for New Orleans before we left was to see the Mississippi at the southern end. Pretty easy goal to meet as our hotel was only a few blocks away..
Me, in front of the Mighty Mississippi River, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. Living as I do in a town located on the Mississippi in Minnesota, the state that is the birthplace of the river, the only real goal I set for New Orleans before we left was to see the Mississippi at the southern end. Pretty easy goal to meet as our hotel was only a few blocks away.

 

Monument to the Immigrant on the river walk in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. Loads of text around the base of this statue explains who these immigrants are and who had the statue erected. Groups dedicated to Italian, Jewish, German, and Irish heritage were involved. Contrary to the anti-immigrant desires of those politicians currently in charge of our country, the people believe in the ideals of a melting pot made up of people from all over the globe, which is the point of this statue.
Monument to the Immigrant on the river walk in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. Loads of text around the base of this statue explains who these immigrants are and who had the statue erected. Groups dedicated to Italian, Jewish, German, and Irish heritage were involved. Contrary to the anti-immigrant desires of those politicians currently in charge of our country, most people believe in the ideals of a melting pot made up of people from all over the globe, which is the point of this statue.

 

Mid-century modern skin on the front of a building on Canal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. The sign says "Sanlin" in giant script. According to sources online, this skin was applied in 1953. Mid-century modern skins were an easy way to update old buildings and they often featured signage that was as architectural and meant to make a design statement. Aside from the skyscrapers, the French Quarter is full of older historic buildings. This skin stands out because it is the only one on this building and I didn't see any others in the places we walked in the district.
Mid-century modern skin on the front of a building on Canal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. The sign says “Sanlin” in giant script. According to sources online, this skin was applied in 1953. Mid-century modern skins were an easy way to update old buildings and they often featured signage that was architectural and meant to make a design statement. Aside from the skyscrapers, the French Quarter is full of older historic buildings. This skin stands out because it is the only one on this building and I didn’t see any others in the places we walked in the district.

 

I knew I was getting close to an art museum when I saw this wall of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019.
I knew I was getting close to an art museum when I saw this wall of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019.

 

Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. This museum has several exhibit halls, with one featuring a retrospective of the work of Dusti Bongé, an abstract expressionist. Even in the art world, history is a thing in New Orleans.
Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. This museum has several exhibit halls, with one currently featuring a retrospective of the work of Dusti Bongé, an abstract expressionist. Even in the art world, history is a thing in New Orleans.

 

The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. This large museum complex is across the street from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. When I travel, I try to limit the number of museums I visit because the experience becomes too overwhelming and I remember none of it. I did not visit this museum or the next one pictured in this travelogue, but I did enjoy the architecture and noted that both this and the next museum are located in the arts district of New Orleans.
The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. This large museum complex is across the street from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. When I travel, I try to limit the number of museums I visit because the experience becomes too overwhelming and I remember none of it. I did not visit this museum or the next one pictured in this travelogue, but I did enjoy the architecture and noted that both this and the next museum are located in the arts district of New Orleans.

 

Confederate Memorial Hall Museum, next door to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. This building is done in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style, named for architect Henry Hobson Richardson, who apparently lived nearby on Julia Street. Our historic courthouse in Little Falls, Minnesota, is in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, too.
Confederate Memorial Hall Museum, next door to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. This building is done in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style, named for architect Henry Hobson Richardson, who apparently lived nearby on Julia Street. Our historic courthouse in Little Falls, Minnesota, is in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, too.

 

Crossing the Mississippi River on a ferry over to Algiers Point, this is the view of New Orleans, Louisiana, near the Canal Street, August 2019.(If this feels a little random at this point in the travelogue, bear with me. I'm going someplace with this.)
Crossing the Mississippi River on a ferry over to Algiers Point, this is the view of New Orleans, Louisiana, near the Canal Street, August 2019. (If this feels a little random at this point in the travelogue, bear with me. I’m going someplace with this.)

 

Algiers Courthouse, Algiers Point, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. This building, which first attracted my attention because of the clock (because I'm always looking for clocks as The Pragmatic Historian), is also in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.
Algiers Courthouse, Algiers Point, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. This building, which first attracted my attention because of the clock (because I’m always looking for clocks as The Pragmatic Historian), is also in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.

 

Look! Its another Richardsonian Romanesque courthouse! But this one is not in New Orleans; its in Little Falls, MN, just to show you a comparison with the Richardsonian Romanesque buildings in NOLA. April 2018.
Look! Its another Richardsonian Romanesque courthouse! But this one is not in New Orleans; its in Little Falls, MN, where I’m from, just to show you a comparison with the Richardsonian Romanesque buildings in NOLA. April 2018.

 

Why, it's another clock in a building! Oh, and it's a historic place, too. This is the St. Louis Cathedral overlooking Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana. (I'm not used to seeing clocks in church facades in Minnesota, but they are a thing in New Orleans. Saw another one on a church on Algiers Point.) Jackson Square is "where in 1803 Louisiana was made United States territory pursuant to the Louisiana Purchase." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackson_Square_(New_Orleans) - Minnesota was also part of the Louisiana Purchase, with Lt. Zebulon Pike being sent on an expedition to find the source of the Mississippi River there in 1805-06. He built a fort a few miles south of Little Falls, MN, (just a couple miles south of the museum where I work) because winter came early in 1805 and he had to hunker down for a bit. Because of my knowledge of local history in Central Minnesota, it's a blast to find these history connections in Louisiana.
Why, it’s another clock in a building! Oh, and it’s a historic place, too. This is the St. Louis Cathedral overlooking Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana. (I’m not used to seeing clocks in church facades in Minnesota, but they are a thing in New Orleans. Saw another one on a church on Algiers Point.) Jackson Square is “where in 1803 Louisiana was made United States territory pursuant to the Louisiana Purchase.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackson_Square_(New_Orleans) – Minnesota was also part of the Louisiana Purchase, with Lt. Zebulon Pike being sent on an expedition to find the source of the Mississippi River there in 1805-06. He built a fort a few miles south of Little Falls, MN, (just a couple miles south of the museum where I work) because winter came early in 1805 and he had to hunker down for a bit. Because of my knowledge of local history in Central Minnesota, it’s a blast to find these history connections in Louisiana.

 

Snug Harbor jazz club on Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. Every Friday night this stage is reserved for the great Ellis Marsalis, jazz pianist extraordinaire, provided he's not traveling anywhere. Ellis is the father of the insanely talented Marsalis jazz musicians, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo (who our family saw at the College of Saint Benedict in March here in Minnesota), and Jason, who joined Ellis on stage as drummer. There was also an upright bass player named Jason (not a Marsalis) and a wonderful singer named Christian, who joined the trio for several songs. (No photos or video were allowed of the performance.) This venue's size matches its name ... once it is filled, it's quite snug, but what a treat to hear these master musicians! It was my husband's wish to see a jazz show in NOLA because NOLA is known for jazz and my hubby loves jazz. Music, too, is part of the community's history.
Snug Harbor jazz club on Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. Every Friday night this stage is reserved for the great Ellis Marsalis, jazz pianist extraordinaire, provided he’s not traveling anywhere. Ellis is the father of the insanely talented Marsalis jazz musicians, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo (who our family saw at the College of Saint Benedict in March here in Minnesota), and Jason, who joined Ellis on stage as drummer. There was also an upright bass player named Jason (not a Marsalis) and a wonderful singer named Christian, who joined the trio for several songs. (No photos or video were allowed of the performance.) This venue’s size matches its name … once it is filled, it’s quite snug, but what a treat to hear these master musicians! It was my husband’s wish to see a jazz show in NOLA because NOLA is known for jazz and my hubby loves jazz. Music, too, is part of the community’s history.

 

Altar with wishes written on pieces of paper wrapped with money at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, Dumaine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. This museum is privately operated and has three small rooms featuring quite a number of altars with offerings, along with the history of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and explanations of various aspects of Voodoo. Not far from the museum, there is a shop called Marie Laveau's on Bourbon Street (which is as rowdy as its reputation in the business district closer to Canal Street). We stopped in to Marie Laveau's, where there was an altar to her. I purchased a pack of tarot cards there, which seems an appropriate souvenir of New Orleans. This altar is perhaps the most inspirational thing I saw on my trip in terms of leading me to new ideas. I can't stop thinking about it.
Altar with wishes written on pieces of paper wrapped with money at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, Dumaine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2019. This museum is privately operated and has three small rooms featuring quite a number of altars with offerings, along with the history of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and explanations of various aspects of Voodoo. Not far from the museum, there is a shop called Marie Laveau’s on Bourbon Street (which is as rowdy as its reputation in the business district closer to Canal Street). We stopped in to Marie Laveau’s, where there was an altar to her. I purchased a pack of tarot cards there, which seems an appropriate souvenir of New Orleans. This altar (the one pictured above) is perhaps the most inspirational thing I saw on my trip in terms of leading me to new ideas. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Along with experiencing all these places, we suffered the oppressive August heat and humidity in NOLA as we traveled from one to another on foot. We were told many times by locals that August is not usually a busy season for them because of the weather and we marveled at the locals who were working strenuous jobs while wearing jeans out in the heat. We also learned that we couldn’t walk at our typical scurrying-in-the-cold Minnesota pace because that just heated us up faster. We had to sloooooow down and find respite in one of the many wonderful restaurants.

We had to try local foods, like gumbo, fried chicken, fried catfish, alligator, and po’ boys. I enjoyed a marvelous shrimp/spinach/strawberry salad at Gumbo Ya-Ya. There were two Mediterranean restaurants in the French Quarter that served exquisite food, Mona’s on Frenchmen Street and Cleo’s on  Decatur Street. But my favorite dish of all was debris. Or should that be capitalized? Debris. While that might sound like something you’d dredge off the bottom of the Mississippi in NOLA, it’s actually the heavenly bits of beef and juice left behind from roasting a chunk of beef. I had Debris at Mother’s Restaurant, just around the corner from the Eliza Jane.

From the waitstaff at restaurants to the hotel personnel to the bartenders to the folks at museums and shops, starting with our Uber driver Jerome and ending with our ride to the airport from Kerry Roby of Kerry’s New Orleanian Transportation Service, everyone one we talked to knew a great deal about the history of NOLA and they were willing to share it. They were using history to sell NOLA. Because they were proud of the city, they were happy to share and they were authentic in their recommendations. We went to NOLA with very little pre-trip research and we ended up finding fabulous things to do and places to visit and eat based on what local folks suggested.

What a trip!

 

 

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