Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Orleans -- Tuesday -- July 22, 2014

I was happy to see the Ignatius J Reilly statue standing outside the site of the DH Holmes department store on Canal Street, where Reilly stood at the beginning of John Kennedy Toole's novel A Confederacy of Dunces.  Now that I have been to New Orleans, I shall have to read it again. 

Tuesday was our last full day in New Orleans, so I ran around taking photos of things I had not yet caught, like the huge grandfather clock in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone. 

A plaque in the lobby is dedicated to Antonio Monteleone, a Sicilian cobbler who came to New Orleans and wound up owning a hotel.  The fourth generation of the family still owns it. 

We had breakfast at IHOP, a family tradition on vacations, and went to catch an outbound Canal Street car at Bourbon Street.  Here we see car 2012 inbound, followed by a string of other cars. 

We caught car 2001 outbound on Canal, headed for the Cemeteries.  We talked to a young lady who turned out to be from San Francisco.  She was exploring New Orleans while waiting for some friends. When we got back to the foot of Canal, we suggested taking a Riverfront car.  We saw many Catholic Churches.

At the Cemeteries terminal, the motorman raises the rear pole. 

We saw the A Philip Randolph Operations Center, which serves as carbarn and shops.  I couldn't get it in a photo, but I saw at least one green Saint Charles Avenue car in the yard.  I suppose this is because of the track work that has cut off one end of that line. 

This facility was badly flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Most of the red cars for the Canal and Riverfront lines were ruined.  Carrollton Station (carbarn and shops) for the Saint Charles Avenue line survived unscathed, but the line was badly damaged.  Green Saint Charles Avenue cars ran on Canal Street and Riverfront for some time until the red cars could be refurbished. 

The Saenger Theater. 

2001 reflected in the windows of a Canal Street building. 

When we got to the foot of Canal Street, we went to the ferry terminal. 

The Canal Street Ferry to Algiers Point was free until 23-February-2014.  It was operated by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development until the same date, when the New Orleans RTA took ownership.  Veolia Transportation operates it under contract.  The line used to carry automobiles.  Now it carries only passengers. 

An auto ferry still runs between Chalmette and Lower Algiers. 

I was happy to take my first ride on the waters of the Mississippi.  We paid our two dollar (cash only, exact change only) fare on the boat in what appeared to be a fare register from a bus. 

Ferry Colonel Frank X Armiger approaches the Canal Street landing. 

Ominous clouds loom over the bridges called the Crescent City Connection. 

Looking back at the Canal Street landing.  The former auto ramp is on the right.  It is now used for bicycles and handicapped access. 

Our hotel, the Monteleone is the large white building with the white sign on the roof.  Our room did not have a river view.  Next time. 

The former Jackson Brewery and Saint Louis Cathedral. 

Ferry Louis B Porterie used to carry cars and passengers on the Canal Street Ferry. Now it sits by the Algiers Point ferry landing.

The Algiers Point ferry landing.  The former auto ramp is on the left.  We saw a bicyclist waiting when the boat got closer to shore. 

At Algiers, the crew made all the passengers get off.  Those of us going back had to walk down the corridor and around a barrier and back to the gate.  We paid our two dollars again.  After the boat sailed, I watched the lady who took the fares and a guard who stood next to her wheel the farebox into a room and lock it in.  They sat on a bench to enjoy the trip. 

Back at Canal Street, we found another huge crowd waiting for the Riverfront line.  We jumped on 459, which was outbound.  The motorman stopped at Julia Street and said "Convention Center.  End of the line.  Everyone out."  We got out and realized that we were not at the Convention Center.  We waited a while till he came back.  It started to rain. 

The motorman had all three front windows open when we boarded.  He soon closed them because of the rain. 

We got off at the end of the line, French Market Station.  459 is one of the first group of cars built for the Riverfront line.  Note that it does not have air conditioning, so it does not have the fake clerestory roof. 

The rain was very heavy as we tried to work our way through the French Market.  We wound up at Café du Monde and had a late snack. 

The rain stopped when we were done, so we walked back through the French Quarter, stopping at Faulkner House Books in Pirate's Alley.  We bought a collection of his essays on the French Quarter and Soldiers' Pay.  The clerk said he had written both in that same room.  We talked a bit about Sherwood Anderson, and about similarities between San Francisco and New Orleans in the way we regard reality. 

We went on to the Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum in Royal Street.  Downstairs they had an exhibit on the Boswell Sisters.  Upstairs they had a permanent exhibit on the history of New Orleans.  It was worth a visit. 

We went on to the hotel and put our feet up for a while.  I went to sleep. 

We walked down to the French Market and had dinner at the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen.  The food was good but service was agonizingly slow. 

We walked up to Saint Peter Street just in time to get in line at Preservation Hall.  When a staff member reminded people that there were no drinks, no food and no bathrooms, a lady ahead of us wanted to know how they could do that.  She and another woman later left the line after complaining that the charge was $15 each.


We wound up standing for the 8 o'clock show by the Preservation Hall-Stars.  It was worth it.  Drummer Shannon Powell led the band and did some of the singing.  I didn't catch the names of the pianist, bass player, trumpeter, clarinetist or trombonist.  They did "Shake It and Break It," "Bourbon Street Parade," a sing-along of hymns, and other pieces. 

We went back to the hotel and packed our bags. 

My day-by-day posts:

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Orleans -- Monday -- July 21, 2014

Across the street from the Convention Center stands the Scraphouse, made by artist Sally Heller as a memorial to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  A shack stands in the branches of a dead oak tree, which is covered with various pieces of debris.  I took the photo from the upper deck of a hop-on, hop-off tour bus. 

Monday morning we walked over to Canal and Royal and caught car 2002 inbound on Canal Street. 

An outbound car passes 2002. 

My wife likes to say I can't pass a "Take One" sign without taking one.  This rack didn't say "Take One," but I took one anyway. 

This sign was on another car.  I'd like to attend that festival some year. 

Stations on the Riverfront line have especially nice signage, although I'm not sure all tourists would guess which direction was inbound and which was outbound.  Inbound cars were headed towards French Market.  I should also mention that all the stations on the Riverfront line have center platforms.  The cars use their left-hand doors. 

Canal Street is Station 6 on the Riverfront line. 

We found a huge crowd at the station, and it kept growing.  Some people said they had been there 30 minutes.  Riverfront service is pretty limited on weekdays. 

While we waited, a HiRail truck went by on the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.

Another sign at Station 6. 

This sign indicates the point where inbound cars should stop. 

Outbound cars were headed towards the Convention Center. 

Cars from the Loyola line follow the Riverfront to French Market on weekends.  That is the one line I did not get to ride.  Note that riders can text to check for the next arrival. 

I didn't note the car number, but here is the motorman's station at the back of the crowded car.  The T-handle on the left is the combined controller and brake.  Among the buttons on the panel are the ones that open the left- or right-hand doors. 

When we finally reached the Café du Monde, we got in line.  The line always moved quickly. 

Before and after photos represent two orders of beignets.  Visible in the background is a cup of café au lait. 

After breakfast, we went to look for the stop on the New Orleans Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour.  My father always said it was good to take a tour bus around a new city.  It is a good way to learn the lay of the land and see things one might want to explore in more detail.  We caught a red double-decker bus and the driver said we could buy tickets at the Basin Street Station.  We had seats upstairs, but after Basin Street, we had to sit downstairs.  The bus was packed. 

Sitting downstairs turned out to be a good thing because a thunderstorm broke out soon after.  Here is water rushing down the stairs after a stop.  The narrator's helper passed out ponchos.  The narrator recommended two each for the people upstairs, one to wear and one to sit on. 

We liked the narrator and she said the next bus wouldn't be along for 40 minutes or more, so we stayed on the bus.  She talked about the Faubourg Marigny, the Treme, and Black Storyville. 

We decided to get off at Mardi Gras World, which I thought was going to be a tourist trap.  It turned out to be fun and interesting. 

We bought our tickets in the lobby.  They were strings of beads with a jester figure.  The tour led us into a room surrounded by Mardi Gras figures; some of them looked familiar from Disneyland and Downtown Disney.  Guests could put on costumes and hats and pose with the figures. 

We sat down and watched a video about the Mardi Gras season and the many parades.  Then the guide talked about the origins of Mardi Gras. 

We followed her into the studio, where artists were working on figures and decorations for next year.  I think the guide said that Blaine Kern Studios builds the floats for 16 Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, and for many theme parks and other organizations around the world. 

Then we were turned loose in the warehouse, where we could see complete floats and many stored figures, like this one representing "How the Elephant Got His Trunk" from Just So Stories.  Most of the floats belonged to the Krewe of Orpheus. 

When we were done, we found that the rain had stopped.  We boarded another bus and got seats on the upper deck.  We passed the Convention Center and went on past the foot of Canal Street and into the French Quarter on Decatur Street.  We liked the narrator on this bus, so we decided to stay on for another loop around. 

We passed Jackson Square and had a nice view of the cathedral and Andrew Jackson. 

We passed the statue of Joan of Arc next to the French Market.  The narrator said locals call her "Joanie on a Pony." 

We passed the site of Congo Square and then Saint Louis Cemetery Number 1 before we returned to Basin Street Station. 

We passed the terminal of the Saint Charles Avenue line, where we saw car 921. 

We passed car 2003 on the Loyola line. 

We passed car 910 as it went around Lee Circle on the Saint Charles Avenue line.  I went through Lee Circle twice on the streetcars and twice on the hop-on hop-off buses and never saw the statue of General Lee, just the base of the column.  Just as well. 

The Confederate Museum was nearby, in a building designed by William Richardson.  We didn't go so I couldn't say anything unfortunate. 

We would have gone to the National World War II Museum if we had spent another day in New Orleans.  I hope we'll visit again. 

As we toured the Garden District, we passed Louisiana Avenue, where passengers transferred to and from Saint Charles Avenue cars because of track work. 

Some of the track work. 

The Trolley Stop Café. 

Back at the French Market, we got off the bus.  We had dinner at a small place where a jazz quartette was playing.  The saxophone player had a talent.  We both had po'boy sandwiches.  My wife's had fried oysters and mine had shrimp. 

We wandered around the French Quarter for a while.  We saw the Old Ursuline Convent, which is supposed to be the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. 

We liked the buildings in this section of the French Quarter. 

I had to take a photo of one of the funny-looking fire hydrants.  I'm sorry I didn't think to take a photo of the water meter covers.  They were an interesting design that even got made into jewelry. 

The Andrew Jackson Hotel is next to the Cornstalk Fence Hotel. 

We found our way back to the Hotel Monteleone and had a quiet evening because the shrimp po'boy disagreed with me. 

My day-by-day posts: