Walking on Bourbon Street

Always serves to remind me of the difference between the French Quarter I live in, and the one the tourists wish existed. My neighborhood, just a few blocks off Burbon on St. Philip and Burgundy, is mostly residential, and the few bars and grocery stores in the few blocks around me tend to locals. They’re mellow and friendly, and the Quarter sometimes has a small town feel to it, where everybody knows each other. It was always a city of eccentrics and artists, and has a rich, fascinating history that locals often make their own personal hobby.

Bourbon is a fantasy of the French Quarter. I’m always amazed at the number of souvenir stores selling exactly the same merchadise, and none of it seems especially native to New Orleans to me. I’ve already written about how cajun and zydeco are not specific to the city, but if you want real New Orleans music, like the Boswell sisters or Eddie Bo, you’re going to have to look on a street other than Bourbon. And, man, look at all the beads

4 Comments so far

  1. Mike Hoffman (unregistered) on January 23rd, 2005 @ 2:27 pm

    Living down the street, I can definitely empathize. However, without a governmental body dedicated to significant change in the image of our city and the structure of our economy, we don’t have much of a chance. The ports will grow and the hotels will expand… and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to have a better 24 hour place to eat beyond Clover, Peniche, or Verti Marte.

  2. danoots (unregistered) on January 24th, 2005 @ 10:41 am

    Being a New Yorker, I can totally sympathize with feeling invaded by tourists. Of course, being a tourist in New Orleans for three years running – I understand the other side of the coin. I love so much about NO… the great restaurants, terrific live music (far away from Bourbon), neighbourhoods like Marigny, etc. But, being a man, I *can* understand the lure of Bourbon Street… I mean, c’mon, to-go cups, breasts everywhere, everyone having a good time. It’s a very guilty pleasure, but the truth is it fuels your economy, like it or not. I have to remind myself of the same thing whenever I deal with pudgy midwesterners in shorts in knee socks standing smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk in Times Square.

  3. ryan (unregistered) on January 29th, 2005 @ 3:12 pm

    the problem is that tourism is the city’s main cash cow and we really have to live with it. it would be nice if tourists were more respectful of the quarter, or the police would crack down on public urination, or (better yet) we could develop businesses and industry that were not dependent on tourism (but that doesn’t seem to be in the works).

    growing up in new orleans with that atmosphere in the quarter really drove me away from it, and i mostly stuck uptown or only went to the quarter during the day.

    like the other poster, i now live in new york and see some of the same thing here, even though it’s of a different quality. the good thing about tourism in new orleans is that it’s limited to the quarter and the streetcars, while the natives and the travellers can enjoy the rest of the city.

  4. A. Johnson (unregistered) on August 27th, 2005 @ 11:06 pm

    there is a store on bourbon st. that sells handmade porcelain earrings in the shape of mardi gras masks. they are soooo cool. i can’t remember the name of the shop and i would love to know. if any one knows, could you please tell me?
    thank you

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