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Idyllically laid within the ambit of New Orleans' famous French Quarter district, Jackson Square is steeped in a rich history associated with the epoch-making Louisiana Purchase. An arsenal of historic landmarks, including the three-steepled St. Louis Cathedral, The Cabildo and the Presbytere stand amid vast landscaped gardens, with the bronze statue of the heroic Andrew Jackson forming a compelling centerpiece. Although now buried under layers of history, the square harks back to a fascinating past, when it was originally known as the Place d'Armes. An erstwhile site for public executions, this square saw a dramatic shift at the turn of the twentieth century. At the height of the Roaring Twenties, this National Historic Landmark became widely known for its association with the arts, allowing artists to gather and participate in the exchange of ideas. Through the years, Jackson Square has been touched by fleeting, yet enduring associations with tarot-readers, jugglers, street artists, and paraders, echoing the very unbeatable ethos that New Orleans is known for today.
Thanks to the generous donations from Sydney and Walda Besthoff, New Orleanians and visitors to the city can enjoy art-in-the-park at Besthoff Sculpture Garden. The nearly five acres that make up the sculpture garden in City Park are home to 57 large-scale works of art. The sculptures, situated among the park's large oaks and Southern magnolias, vary greatly in style and represent a range of classic and modern artists. Additionally, the Besthoff Sculpture Garden is free for all visitors.
Consisting of six sites spread across New Orleans, this historic site pays homage to the pirateering legacy of Jean Lafitte, and the historical events that unfolded in his wake. The visitor center has historic walking tours of the French Quarter and also sets the scene for other historic sites in and around New Orleans. The extensive Barataria Preserve is part of the site, and is sheathed in a tapestry of marshes, swamps and dense hardwood forests, while the Chalmette Battlefield has been the ground of many historic battles and wars. Characterized by a string of teeming bayous and inextricable Cajun traditions, the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is a stirring insight into the historical heart of New Orleans.
Kirk Coco and Dylan Lintern, two businessmen, collaborated to establish NOLA Brewing in 2008. An abbreviation for New Orleans Lager & Ale, this brewery leans towards production of European brews. A brewing process headed by esteemed brew master, Peter Caddoo, results in delicious ales like NOLA Brown Ale and NOLA Blonde Ale and Hopitoulas IPA, which are popular favorites. The brewery offers free guided tours every Friday, followed of course by samples of the delicious beers.
Woldenberg Riverfront Park, a green oasis of 20 acres (8.1 hectares) stretches along the old Governor Nicholls Street wharf to the Aquarium of the Americas at Canal Street. This promenade is located in the heart of the city and is scattered with numerous works by local artists. It boasts hundreds of beautiful trees such as oaks, magnolias, willows and crepe myrtle. Sit on one of the many benches and view the city's busy port, second only to Amsterdam in tonnage.
The center of all cultural activities, the French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. The city of New Orleans was built around the main square of what was then known as the Vieux Carré, after the city's founding in 1718. However, most of the area's buildings come from the early 19th Century, when the city was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Although originally settled by French Creoles, by the early 20th Century they were mostly gone from the French Quarter, and bohemian culture began to boom in the area. Architectural delights like Jackson Square and its Saint Louis Cathedral are highlights of the neighborhood. The French Quarter's single most famous landmark, Bourbon Street, is a nightlife mainstay, being the main drag of Mardi Gras celebrations. Replete with rich architectural history and cultural implications, the French Quarter truly encapsulates New Orleans' vibrant spirit.
Originally known as Rue Bourbon, New Orleans' infamous Bourbon Street runs the length of the city's French Quarter, although it is the eight-block stretch of "Upper Bourbon Street," lined with bars and clubs of every genre, that is known for its lively nightlife scene. Initially a sought after residential neighborhood, shifting borders and demographics saw Bourbon Street succumb to the same vices the city had come to be known for, becoming famous for its restaurants, nightclubs and other risque establishments. Today, this street is best known for its involvement in the Big Easy's greatest festival, Mardi Gras, and its love affair with live jazz and blues. Each night, revelers throng the street with drinks in hand, their smiling faces lit by the multi-colored glow of neon lights. By day, the avenue's quaint architectural heritage comes to the fore, with time-honored eateries doling out traditional po'boys, beignets and other quintessentially, local eats.
Second to the original Saint Louis Cemetery, number two was built in the 1820s after the population in New Orleans increased, but there were outbreaks of yellow fever. This above-ground addition is located two blocks from Number One, both owned, operated and maintained by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Tours are recommended, due to the unsafe surrounding neighborhood.