Friday, April 27, 2012

The Balconies and Bright Colors of the French Quarter, New Orleans

French Quarter Balconies Series 1

We spent just a few days in the French Quarter but were immediately struck by its fascinating architecture. Most of the quarter’s architecture was built during the Spanish rule over New Orleans, a relatively short 40 years from 1762 to 1803. There are plaques in the walls of buildings in the French Quarter that give the Spanish names of the streets when New Orleans was the Capital of the Spanish Province of Luisana. From Wikipedia:

The Great New Orleans Fire (1788) and another great fire in 1794 destroyed most of the Quarter's old French colonial architecture, leaving the colony's new Spanish overlords to rebuild it according to more modern tastes—and strict new fire codes, which mandated that all structures be physically adjacent and close to the curb to create a firewall. The old French peaked roofs were replaced with flat tiled ones, and now-banned wooden siding with fire-resistant stucco, painted in the pastel hues fashionable at the time. As a result, colorful walls and roofs and elaborately decorated ironwork balconies and galleries, from both the 18th century and the early 19th century, abound. (In southeast Louisiana, a distinction is made between "balconies", which are self supporting and attached to the side of the building, and "galleries" which are supported from the ground by poles or columns.)*

It is those pastel stucco walls and balconies and galleries that caught our eye. The architectural scale and playfulness feels right. They are in such contrast to the cold, blocky business district which butts up against the French Quarter. So be it. Old meets new. Perhaps the French Quarter really just stirred memories of the countless, pleasant hours we spent wandering Italian towns and villages? Here we assembled some dreamy photos (just like the Spanish moss swaying in the breeze on the live oaks) - always looking up at the balconies. Most of the photos were taken in the French Quarter and just a few in the warehouse district.

Plaque Recalling the Name of a Street When Spain Ruled

French Quarter Balconies Series 2

French Quarter Balconies Series 3

French Quarter Balconies Series 4

French Quarter Balconies Series 5

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