What Our Neighborhood Is Like
If you don’t live in New Orleans, it’s hard to describe what it is like to live here. Esplanade Avenue is the boundary between the 6th Ward, also known as Treme, and the 7th Ward. Depending on who you ask, where we live is part of the Treme/Lafitte Neighborhood, it’s part of Mid-City, or it’s the middle of Esplanade Ridge. When New Orleanians ask which neighborhood we live in, we just say we live on Esplanade Avenue. Esplanade Avenue is a world of its own, distinct from the surrounding streets, but the spine that connects them all. The 91 bus runs down Esplanade Avenue, taking people to work every day.
We recently made a list of restaurants that are within a mile of our inn. There are more than 60. Some of them won’t interest you, but the people who live here eat there. There are four small independent museums within a half mile of our inn, not counting our lobby, which would be the HQ for your New Orleans adventures.
Esplanade Avenue is a beautiful street. Yes, it is safe to walk on Esplanade Avenue. New Orleans is a real city, though it doesn’t always look like one. Most people you bump into will be super-friendly and willing to share their stories and offer assistance, but, as in any other city, travelers are advised to keep their wits about them. We’ve never had any problems, nor have any of our guests.
Canal Street is the dividing line in New Orleans. Uptown is the upriver side of Canal Street. Downtown is our side of Canal Street. Geographers will tell you that we live in the quintessential Creole part of New Orleans. That’s true.
Downtown is very different from Uptown. There’s a little less money, it’s a bit more relaxed, and the culture is more local and less influenced by what’s going on in the rest of the world. We like to think of our part of New Orleans as an oasis. That’s how we experience our neighborhood. We can take care of all our needs without traveling more than a half mile.
There is a local pharmacy as well as the usual national chains, there are several local coffee shops, small grocers, a wine bar, nationally famous restaurants, a couple of gas stations, auto mechanics, a used car dealership, a bookshop, a Creole buffet (all-you-can-eat for $6.99 at lunchtime), churches, nightclubs, fried chicken, an optometrist, a dentist, a gynecologist, and several public schools all within a fifteen minute stroll. Ours is a neighborhood in which people live as well as visit. Bus tours and bicycle tours stop in front of our house all day long to take pictures. Esplanade Avenue is shadily lined with beautifully gothic ancient live oak trees.
We’re getting a four-screen art house cinema in our neighborhood. How often do you hear that somebody is getting a new movie theater around the block from where they live? And that’s not mentioning the new Whole Foods Market that opened on North Broad Avenue last year. There is a lot going on where we live.
We are not in the heart of the action in the French Quarter, but we are a 20-minute walk away. It is exactly one mile from our house to the Esplanade Avenue end of Bourbon Street. That’s not the part you see on TV, where girls go wild and drunken frat boys pass out on the sidewalk, but it’s close enough. In the other direction, you can walk to City Park which is home to the art museum, the botanical gardens, a small amusement park, a miniature golf course, and a gondola ride, should you choose to partake of these pleasures. We go to City Park more often than we go to the French Quarter.
We have nothing against the French Quarter, but as citizens of this magical city we call home, we aren’t on vacation. We have stuff to do. Buying tee shirts and visiting a strip club aren’t usually on our list of errands. We enjoy the French Quarter but we enjoy the rest of the city, too. We especially enjoy our neighborhood. We enjoy where we live. You should go to the Quarter and to Frenchmen Street. You are going to be on vacation, after all. If you want to enjoy the rest of New Orleans, our neighborhood makes an agreeable and convenient launching pad to do that.