We're packed and ready to head to New Orleans, Louisiana to attend ASLA's Annual Meeting & Expo, October 21 to 24. Every fall we look forward to this trade show for so many reasons ; for us, ASLA is catching up with our wonderful clients, connecting with our community of design professionals, checking out new and innovative products , and having the opportunity to visit a new city and explore the places and spaces that make it extraordinary and distinguished.
Unique in its geographic attributes, cultural diversity and heritage, New Orleans is a city that offers so much to so many. Known for its distinct architecture, visitors to NOLA can go from carriages and courtyards to riverboats and swamps.
As the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans offers an exciting and lively music scene to complement its equally famous cuisine. Festivals and celebrations attract revelers from around the globe, eager to take in the sights, sounds, flavors, and colors of the most unique city in the U.S.
In celebration of ASLA, we've mapped out a few places among the many one-of-a-kind landmarks on our must-see list for NOLA. We hope to see you somewhere along the way!
Originally purposed as New Orleans ‘Main Street’, Canal Street is the traditional starting point for a tour of New Orleans. Head off in any direction from this downtown hub and you are bound to see or find something of scenic or historic interest.Canal Street was originally named for a canal that was supposed to connect the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. The canal was never dug, but instead it became the city's main pedestrian and vehicular passageway.
Nowadays, Canal street is home to luxury hotels, theaters and some of the city's best boutiques and jewelry retailers. A hot spot for fun and action during Mardi Gras, Canal Street has been hosting parades since the very beginning of the local celebration in the mid-1800s. Up to a million people now crowd into every square inch of the parade route to enjoy the festivities for which New Orleans is internationally renowned.
It is a short ferry ride from the foot of Canal Street in busy downtown New Orleans to Algiers Point, but the transition is dramatic. Algiers Point is New Orleans’ Brooklyn without the bustle - the neighborhood has great views of both the city skyline and the Mississippi River.
Once crowded with industrial sheds, the Algiers riverfront now offers three miles along the levee for walking, biking, and picnics. Theaters and corner stores have found new life as recording studios, glassblowing workshops, and specialty stores. A walk through the streets of this village will reveal community parks, ancient oaks, and tidy Victorian cottages adorned with gingerbread woodwork. Some notable places of interest include the Jazz Walk of Fame, honoring the musical legends of New Orleans, and Confetti Park, a whimsical playground for kids with original fence work by artist Steven Kline.
Nestled at the base of Canal St along the Mississippi Riverfront, Woldenberg Park is an area of picturesque greenspace that offers downtown and French Quarter passersbys a front-row view of the river and ample areas for picnics, events, and sight-seeing. The park’s 16 acres are a hotspot for everything from festivals to popular pathways for joggers and bikers, and Woldenberg Park is filled with sculptures and artwork to complement the riverfront view.
There may be no better way to get a feel for New Orleans than to spend a day walking the six-mile length of Magazine Street. Magazine is a charming, small-town, Americana Main Street that follows the curve of the Mississippi, on a route a few blocks north of the river. From its northernmost point in Audubon Park down to the busy streets of the Central Business District (known simply as "the CBD"), you'll get a glimpse of the many neighborhoods in between, each more varied than the next, featuring some of the best antique stores, art galleries, craft shops and boutiques to be found anywhere in the city.
The French Quarter/ Jackson Square
The original settlement of New Orleans and the oldest neighborhood in the city is Vieux Carre, better known as the French Quarter or simply The Quarter. The French Quarter boasts a storied history of international influence with cultural contributions from the French, Spanish, Sicilians, Italians, Africans, Irish and others. So much of what makes New Orleans unique is captured in this melting pot atmosphere of the French Quarter, from the boisterous party vibe of Bourbon Street to the bohemian elegance of Royal Street. It's a neighborhood full of entertainment and surprises.
A dominant feature throughout the neighborhood is the stunning architecture. Balconies adorned with intricate ironwork, courtyards filled with lush greenery and beautiful fountains showcase the French Quarter's European roots. The majority of the architectural design is the handiwork of the Spanish who ruled and rebuilt the city after two overwhelming fires in 1788 and 1794.
Life in the Quarter centers around New Orleans' most famous landmark, Jackson Square. The square is flanked by historic structures such as the St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere and Cabildo (which house the Louisiana State Museums) and the Pontalba Apartments (the oldest apartment buildings in the U.S.).
The creative culture of the Quarter is embraced by the collection of fortune tellers, artists and musicians who surround Jackson Square. Every street in the French Quarter has something to offer from classic restaurants, music venues, boutique shopping to voodoo temples. Some of the most popular areas include: Royal Street, Chartres Street and Bourbon Street but no trip to the Quarter is complete without a trip to the historic French Market for souvenirs. A variety of guided tours are available covering topics such as haunted, historical, culinary and even cocktail.
A common meeting place for groups traveling in downtown New Orleans, Spanish Plaza offers a bit of respite and a place to sit down, relax, and enjoy the cool breezes coming off the Mississippi River. Conveniently located next to The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, Spanish Plaza is just steps from the Algiers Ferry, Harrah’s Casino, The Shops at Canal Place, the Canal streetcar line and plenty of French Quarter shopping.
Originally known as Eads Plaza, the area was dedicated to the City of New Orleans by Spain in 1976. It serves as a memorial to the common history that Spain and New Orleans share, as well as a pledge of future fraternity. The plaza also memorializes 19th century civil engineer James Buchanan Eads, who improved the navigability of the Mississippi River between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico by creating a jetty system.
At the center of Spanish Plaza lies a beautiful fountain, surrounded by benches which feature a tiled mosaic honoring the seals of the provinces of Spain. Spanish Plaza plays host to many festivities throughout the year, including the annual meeting of the monarchs of the Rex and Zulu Mardi Gras krewes on Lundi Gras day. The Carnival kings traditionally arrive by boat to Spanish Plaza, and greet the mayor who presents them with a ceremonial key to the city for Mardi Gras. Spanish Plaza has recently gotten a bit of a facelift, in celebration of the grand opening of The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk. Come check out this revitalized little corner of New Orleans!