New Orleans Architecture

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New Orleans Architecture
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The history of New Orleans is built right into the city. The iron balconies in the French Quarter, the mansions on St. Charles Avenue and the shotgun houses sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods all tell a different part of New Orleans' story. The city has suffered through wartime, fires and devastating hurricanes, yet still managed to preserve many of the architectural styles that make it famous today, earning its place as the unofficial museum of Antebellum architecture.

The French Quarter
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The French Quarter

"The Quarter" is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. When Jean-Baptise Le Moyne de Bienville founded the city in 1718, he built it around the French Quarter (called Vieux Carre at the time, meaning "Old Square" in French). Two great fires, the Louisiana Purchase and a devastating hurricane later, the old square is still standing. Today, the French Quarter is an amalgamation of architectural styles. A small handful of buildings around St. Louis Cathedral retain their original colonial Spanish or French style, while their neighbors are anything from refurbished Victorian to Creole or Greek revival.

Creole Townhouses and Their Iconic Balconies
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Creole Townhouses and Their Iconic Balconies

The townhouses lining the French Quarter are the poster child for New Orleans architecture, thanks to Bourbon Street and Fat Tuesday. Because the townhouses were constructed after both "Great New Orleans Fires," they were built with thick walls, wrought iron balconies and brick facades.

The Mansions of St. Charles Avenue
Courtesy of NewOrleansOnline.com

The Mansions of St. Charles Avenue

Once home to the wealthiest and most powerful New Orleanians, St. Charles Avenue is a prime example of 19th-century Southern grandeur. The street is lined with grand homes, like the William T. Jay-Zemurray mansion here, each with a unique history and impressive list of former occupants.

Cemeteries
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Cemeteries

Nicknamed "Cities of the Dead," New Orleans' impressive collection of cemeteries overflow with large sculptures, stone crypts and mausoleums rarely seen in graveyards today. Because the city is built atop a swamp, the interred dead are few and far between. Instead, the city's deceased live on above ground in carved, European-style stone tombs.

Creole Cottages
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Creole Cottages

These single-story, steep roofed houses are found mostly in the French Quarter. Built from about 1790 to 1850, these cottages continue to be famous for their boxy, symmetrical shape and open facades.

Shotgun Houses
Susan Murray

Shotgun Houses

There are conflicting theories around the true origin of the shotgun house (and the meaning behind the name), but New Orleans is responsible for the architecture and popularization of these long, narrow homes. A traditional shotgun house has two-to-four rooms, each sitting directly behind the other in a line. With such limited space (a result of property taxes), shotgun homeowners got crafty with their house, adding "camelbacks" to the second story and gables in the front. The majority of the houses in New Orleans are shotgun houses.

Double-Gallery Homes
Jean-Paul Gisclair

Double-Gallery Homes

These two-story houses get their name from the matching, column-flanked galleries at the front of the house. Like other New Orleans dwellings, double-gallery homes sit a few feet off the ground. However, unlike shotgun houses and creole cottages, double-gallery homes sit a few feet back from the property line, adding to the spaciousness of the two open galleries.

The Superdome and City Center
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The Superdome and City Center

This futuristic stadium stands out in stark contrast to the old, historic buildings and homes, but, since it's the largest fixed-dome structure in the world, it deserves a place on this list.

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