New Orleans, Louisiana, is known for many characteristics, and things. Why is it referred to, as the Big Easy? Is it because, the nature of the city is somewhat, relaxed, its people enjoy life, it’s small – enough, to feel intimate, yet large enough to offer a lot of variety, from a cultural, entertainment, and educational perspective, or, simply because, it seems, most, go about their own ways, and believe in, Live and Let Live? Why, and how, does this city, enjoy a degree of progressive/ liberal politics, etc, although most of the rest of the state, is far more conservative? How does the experience of going through floods, fires, and other disasters, drive this, live every day, fully, thought – process, and behavior? What drives New Orleans, to be, a tourist mecca, while remaining true to its history and heritage, and avoiding the folly, many others have undergone, of over – growing, and expanding? With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, some of the relevant factors, and, perhaps, provide some perspective on, why the city is enjoyable, and many of us, from other regions, might learn something, from it.
1. Education and history: At least two major universities, call, New Orleans, home, Tulane University, and Loyola. While both enjoy lovely, expansive campuses, they maintain relatively smaller student bodies (under 10, 000 each), and are easily accessible, via street car, from the city center, and elsewhere. The city is one of the United States’ oldest ones, with history going back, to the 1600’s. It’s proud of its history and heritage, with superb museums, such as the World War II Museum, Children’s Museum, Aquarium, etc. Many areas (in this city, they are referred to, as either Districts, or Parishes) have strict laws regulating development, and historical landmarking restrictions, and requirements. Because of this, while in many other cities, much of the history, as been demolished for so – called, progress, New Orleans maintains many areas of height restrictions, and rules which require maintaining a significant degree of the exterior facade, with an organized, enforced policy.
2. Open carry, liquor laws: It is not only legal, but encouraged, to carry one’s liquor, of choice, with him, on the streets. If you don’t finish your bottle of wine, etc, restaurants will provide carry – away, cups, so you might continue to enjoy, after your departure. Perhaps, this is also the reason, the area has some of the most expensive auto insurance. These laws seem to encourage the concept of a society, where people enjoy life, and, live – and – let – live.
3. Ethnic Diversity: Most of the population, gets along, regardless of race or ethnicity. One does not witness (at least, overtly), the racism, we often witness, in other Southern city.
4. Entertainment and culture: To sum up, the main cultural interest of the city, I would say, the Saints, and Jazz. There seems to be jazz, everywhere, and bars, also. Restaurants appear busy, and successful, and there are various styles of food available, with a plentiful supply of Cajun, Steak, Po Boys, etc. Venues remain open, late, and there are lots of people, citizens, and tourists/ visitors, visible to the wee hours. Eclectic, might be, a way, of describing the Big Easy.
5. Small, easy to navigate, and the floods: Almost all of New Orleans is below sea level, with many areas, 60 or more feet, below. Every time there is significant precipitation, some parish seems to flood, yet, it does not seem, to stop the people, from going about, their lives, and enjoying it. If you like to walk, the city is easy, to get around, because, it is flat (which, of course, is another flood factor). Parking is somewhat expensive, gasoline prices are low, and the street car, is extremely reasonable, and very busy/ crowded.
So, what can we learn from New Orleans? Is it, people can get along, if they hope to? Or, history/ heritage can be maintained, while a city evolves and grows, in a relevant, sustainable manner? Visit the Big Easy, enjoy the unique experience, and learn from its history, and approach, to living!