This Space for Rent

New Orleans joys

The last time I went back to New Orleans was in late August, 2001, returning to Portland on the 3rd of September. While we were there, we stayed in a biggish hotel on the east side of the Vieux Carre (a couple of blocks east of Jackson Square; I don't remember the name, but I suspect that it won't go out of business unless a second hurricane delivers the coup de grace to the Crescent City), rode streetcars, walked around the Vieux Carre and the Garden District (successfully finding the ratty little bungalow that I rented with my brother Stephen), rode more streetcars, visited the Audubon Park Zoo, and ate and ate and ate.

We didn't take too many pictures (I had a Kodak DC290 then, and it had a distressing habit of taking 2-3 pictures happily, then shutting down for 45 seconds while it s-l-o-w-l-y copied them to the memory card), and most of those pictures were of streetcars:

When I left New Orleans, the Riverfront line was still (a) new and (b) narrow gauge. I followed the continued development of the streetcar network, and was quite pleased to see one of the new faux Perley-Thomas cars doing a demonstration shuttle on the Canal Street stub (the Canal line was still being rebuilt when we visited, which was just as well because I would have had us ride it, deadlines and plane flights be damned. Now, of course, the line is built, but the end near Carrollton is under several feet of water, making it pretty damn useless even if there was electrical power to run the cars.)

The Riverfront line was still running (of course), and was now standard streetcar gauge, so cars could run onto Canal and even up St Charles if they needed repairs in the main carbarn on Carrollton St. We didn't manage to actually ride it (the only cars I've ridden on the Riverfront line were the ex-Melbourne W2s that they used while the line was still narrow gauge) but I got a couple of pictures of cars down by Canal Street.

When we went to the Audubon Park Zoo, we took a streetcar and walked down towards the Mississippi, partially through the park and partially on the streets flanking the park. But on the way back, we took the Audubon Park to Canal Street ferryboat, and (after going through a spectacular rainstorm) spotted a couple of New Orleans Public Belt locomotives going about their daily routine of switching all the businesses and warehouses along the Mississippi River. It was still drizzling, so I didn't go out on the deck to take a picture, but even so you can sort of see the little engines sitting there.

And, of course, what trip is complete without Russell going native and playing dressup? After visiting for New Orleans, we went into darkest Mississippi to visit the Mississippi contigent of the family, and while we were there Russell decided to try on as many Mardi Gras beads as he could carry. Note the absence of alligators, snakes, and a foot of mud in the living room here; this absence continued past hurricane Katrina to this very day.