The Canal Street Streetcar Line in New Orleans
Although most of the South doesn’t interest me very much, I would love to visit New Orleans during the two or three weeks of the year when the weather isn’t too oppressive. And I would be delighted to skip the crowds of Mardi Gras.
New Orleans started out under the French flag from 1718 to 1763, then under Spain from 1763 to 1802. It returned to France briefly in 1802 until First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte decided to sell it to the fledgling United States of America in 1803 for $15 million, along with a whole lot of other land totaling 828,000 square miles. The only other flag that flew over the Big Easy were the “Stars and Bars” of the Confederate States of America (1861-1862).
Camelback House in New Orleans
What interests me about the city is its rich cultural (and culinary) history. (How many cities in our country have their own cuisine?)
Close to the city are the Cajun parishes of Louisiana, with their own transplanted French Canadian culture. Martine and I have visited the Maritime Provinces of Canada, from where the Cajuns (Acadians) hailed after they were deported following the French and Indian War. In preparation for some future visit to Louisiana, I have been reading the Dave Robicheaux novels of James Lee Burke. And I am currently in the middle of George Washington Cable’s The Grandissimes.
Until the coronavirus quarantine becomes a thing of the past, I won’t be doing much traveling—though I might go to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico to celebrate my brother’s 70th birthday in April. (That, too, is contingent on the virus.)
I’ve read some of the Dave Robicheaux series. Perhaps my favorite series set in New Orleans is Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January series set in the 1830s.. January is a black man born to a slave. When he was young a white man purchased his mother and somewhere along the line gave her and her son their freedom. January was sent to France, he was educated there and became a surgeon. No stigma there to his being black. January married in France but after his wife died he was extremely despondent and returned to New Orleans where he found an entirely different situation. It is fascinating and Hambly who is actually a professor and historian did plenty of research to accurately portray the customs, mores and laws of the time.
Thanks, Dagny. I’ll order up one of her books from the LA Central Library.
Hope you enjoy it, Jim! I don’t always like historical mysteries, but Hambly made New Orleans of the time come alive for me and I was fascinated. It’s been so long since I read the first one, ages and ages ago.