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Herman Nootix in Louisiana

September 19, 2015

Herman: Pleased to meet you. Herman Nootix, Ph.D. Tenured professor of history, philosophy, and comparative religions at ACME Academy. Usually, I teach the other good guides, but now and then, I like to do some field work myself. Speaking of which, let’s have a look around.

The square is quiet now, but that’s not always the case. Every year, just before Lent, New Orleans becomes one huge party with crowds, costumes, parades, dancing, and lots and lots of eating. It’s called Mardi Gras, that’s French for Fat Tuesday. Since Lent is the season for fasting, the idea was to have your last bit of fun before six weeks of sacrifice. Ask anyone. People here know how to have fun.

This grand arched edifice is the Cabildo. The Spanish built it as the capitol building, back when Spain controlled this city in the late 1700’s. Nowadays, it’s a museum, showcasing the different cultures of the area, going all the way back to the original native American Indians. Intriguing stuff.

Here’s Saint Louis’ Cathedral, the oldest Catholic cathedral in the USA. The French and Spanish people who built New Orleans were nearly all Catholic, so that religion has very deep roots here. In fact, Louisiana is the only US state that’s divided into parishes, which means church districts, rather than counties. We’re in Orleans Parish right now in case anyone asks you.

We’re in Jackson Square, named for Old Hickory. Now that’s President Andrew Jackson. He first became famous here when he won the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. His army was made up of white troops, two battalions of three black men, and even a hundred members of the Choctaw Indian tribe. Just like this town, Jackson’s army was a real cultural mix.

Here are the Pontalba Apartments, a fine example of this town’s unique architectural style. You’ll find multi-story decorative wrought iron balconies like this all over New Orleans. They’re quite practical. In a hot rainy town, you’ll want a breezy outdoor space with a dry roof overhead. It’s a sensible style with a magical look.

New Orleans is not a typical American city. Many of the oldest US cities were founded by a single country, like England. But New Orleans has a much more complex origin. It was a French settlement, then it was run by the Spanish, and later the US bought it as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Now mix in immigrants from Africa, Italy, Ireland, and everyone else, you get a very spicy town.

Goodbye then. It’s been a pleasure.

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