Bourbon Street in New Orleans

Monday, 30 December 2019 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

© Chris Litherland/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Chris Litherland/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bourbon Street (French: Rue Bourbon, Spanish: Calle de Borbón) is a historic street in the heart of the French Quarter of New Orleans. Extending thirteen blocks from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue, Bourbon Street is famous for its many bars and strip clubs. With 17.74 million visitors in 2017 alone, New Orleans depends on Bourbon Street as a main tourist attraction. Tourist numbers have been growing yearly after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the city has successfully rebuilt its tourist base. For millions of visitors each year, Bourbon Street provides a rich insight into New Orleans’ past.

Bourbon Street was a premier residential area prior to 1900. This changed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the Storyville red-light district was constructed on Basin Street adjacent to the French Quarter. The area became known for prostitution, gambling and vaudeville acts. Jazz is said to have developed here, with artists such as King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton providing musical entertainment at the brothels. This was also the era when some of New Orleans’ most famous restaurants were founded, including Galatoire’s, located at 209 Bourbon Street. It was established by Jean Galatoire in 1905. Known for years by its characteristic line snaking down Bourbon Street, patrons waited for hours just to get a table — especially on Fridays. Before World War II, the French Quarter was emerging as a major asset to the city’s economy. While there was an interest in historic districts at the time, developers pressured to modernize the city. Simultaneously, with the wartime influx of people, property owners opened adult-centered nightclubs to capitalize on the city’s risqué image. Wartime Bourbon Street was memorably depicted in Erle Stanley Gardner’s detective novel “Owls Don’t Blink”. After the war, Bourbon Street became the new Storyville in terms of reputation. By the 1940s and 1950s, nightclubs lined Bourbon Street. Over 50 different burlesque shows, striptease acts and exotic dancers could be found.

There was a move in the 1960s under District Attorney Jim Garrison to clean up Bourbon Street. In August 1962, two months after he was elected, Garrison began raiding adult entertainment establishments on Bourbon. His efforts mirrored those of his predecessors, which had been largely unsuccessful; however, he had more success. He forced closure on a dozen nightclubs convicted of prostitution and selling overpriced alcohol. Following this campaign, Bourbon Street was populated by peep shows and sidewalk beer stands. When Mayor Moon Landrieu came into office in 1970, he focused his efforts on stimulating tourism. He did so by making Bourbon Street a pedestrian mall, making it more inviting. The 1980s and 1990s were characterized by a Disneyfication of Bourbon Street. Critics of the rapid increase of souvenir shops and corporate ventures said that Bourbon Street had become Creole Disneyland. They also argued that the street’s authenticity had been lost in this process. On April 5, 2018 a giant saxophone, nearly 11 ft. high, was inaugurated in the street. It was offered by the city of Namur (Belgium) to recall that the inventor of the instrument Adolphe Sax is from the region of Namur, specifically Dinant.

© flickr.com - Nick Solari/cc-by-sa-2.0 © Jan Kronsell/cc-by-sa-3.0 © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Richard A. Weaver/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Ebgundy/cc-by-sa-3.0 © bellemarematt/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Chris Litherland/cc-by-sa-3.0 © flickr.com - Lars Plougmann/cc-by-sa-2.0
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© flickr.com - Lars Plougmann/cc-by-sa-2.0
Largely quiet during the day, Bourbon Street comes alive at night – particularly during the French Quarter’s many festivals. Most famous of these is the annual Mardi Gras celebration, when the streets teem with thousands of people. Local open container laws allow drinking alcoholic beverages on the Quarter’s streets. Popular drinks include the hurricane cocktail, the resurrection cocktail, the hand grenade and the so-called “huge-ass beers” – a large plastic cup of draft beer marketed to tourists at a low price.

The most heavily visited section of Bourbon Street is “upper Bourbon Street” toward Canal Street, an eight-block section of visitor attractions including bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and strip clubs. In the 21st century, Bourbon Street is the home of New Orleans Musical Legends Park, a free, outdoor venue for live jazz performances. The park has sculptures and other tributes to the city’s legendary music personalities.

Most of the bars are located in the central section of Bourbon. Popular spots include Pat O’Brien’s, Johnny White’s, the Famous Door, Spirits on Bourbon, Channing Tatum‘s Saints and Sinners, Razzoo and The Cat’s Meow. Marie Laveau‘s House of Voodoo is located on the corner of St. Ann Street.

The most renowned restaurant on Bourbon Street is Galatoire’s; it represents traditional New Orleans dining and has a dress code. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and the Old Absinthe House are two of the many casual eateries. Also notable is the locals’ hangout, the Bourbon House.

“Lower Bourbon Street” (lower being a reference to downriver, or downstream Mississippi River), from the intersection of St. Ann Street, caters to New Orleans’ thriving gay community. Featuring such establishments as Oz and the city’s largest gay nightclub, the Bourbon Pub, St. Ann Street has been referred to as “the Velvet Line” or “the Lavender Line,” the edge or approximate boundary of the French Quarter’s gay community. Cafe Lafitte in Exile is the oldest gay bar in the nation. The intersection of Bourbon and St. Ann Streets is also the center of the Labor Day weekend event Southern Decadence, commonly referred to as the Gay Mardi Gras, which attracts upwards of 100,000 participants.

Read more on NewOrleans.com – Bourbon Street and Wikipedia Bourbon Street (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.








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