Descripción de editorial
BRIMMING with the romance of 200 years, New Orleans merits the right to be called America’s Most Interesting City. This romance lingers on through the invasion of progress and the stamp of standardization. On the lower side of its broad bisecting Canal Street old New Orleans is steeped in memories; on the upper side the New Orleans of today presents a picture of modern homes and gardens.
Interest for visitors centers in the Vieux Carré which means literally “Old Square” and is part of the city originally founded. Here stands the Cabildo, where the colony of Louisiana was transferred from Spain to France, and by France transferred to the United States, and beside it the Saint Louis Cathedral silhouettes three tapering spires against the Creole sky.
In Jackson Square, now a pleasant loitering place of trees and flowers, a bronze General Jackson sits forever upon his bronze horse, and beyond and around this central point the old streets wander away into pathways of romantic history.
In no other city in this country do tradition and progress confront each other so definitely and as uniquely as in New Orleans. Second port in the United States this old-world city yields no first position in the annals of romantic lore, or as a place where one may dine and wine extremely well.
Visitors asking directions are frequently mystified by the expressions “woods side” and “river side.” These naive terms are local parlance for east and west. On the woods side, properly west, stand the cane fields and forest lands, and on the river side, or east, the Mississippi river flows past New Orleans in a graceful curve giving origin to the descriptive name of “Crescent City” by which New Orleans is familiarly known.
For the illumination of the uninitiate and misinformed, it must be stressed that the word Creole means French or Spanish or a mixture of these races, and far from being one of colored blood, the New Orleans Creole is a product of our most exclusive and clannish strata of society. The Creoles founded New Orleans and it was their home a hundred years before the Americans came. Probably the misinterpretation of the word “Creole” grew from the Creole dialect spoken by the slaves of the time and bears the same relation to purely-spoken French as the Southern Negro dialect bears to English correctly spoken.
The purpose of this book is to present as accurate and as true a record of places and traditions in the Vieux Carré as has been possible to compile from painstaking research, and is designed for whoever may be as interested in the origin of facts as in the facts themselves.
The reader will doubtless find that many of the facts pertaining to the places of interest in the Vieux Carré differ from the usual information found in other books written about the old buildings of the original city. Unfortunately, as in other cities, many of the hoary traditions that have grown up about these buildings are demolished—traditions that fade when the pitiless light of fact is turned on their actual history and antiquity.
Old New Orleans has been compiled chiefly from ancient notarial acts, in every case the history of each old home has been searched through these conveyance records to establish original ownership and the year of actual building. Therefore, if blame for blasted tradition is to be attached to anyone it should be placed on the shoulders of the notaries of a century or more ago who set down in their sear and yellowed files the actual transactions when pesos and piastres were exchanged for land or building or both.