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New Orleans is a city of many storied streets, but only one conjures up as much unbridled passion as it does fervent hatred, simultaneously polarizing the public while drawing millions of visitors a year. A fascinating investigation into the mile-long urban space that is Bourbon Street, Richard Campanella's comprehensive cultural history spans from the street's inception during the colonial period through three tu-multuous centuries, arriving at the world-famous entertainment strip of today.
Clearly written and carefully researched, Campanella's book interweaves world events -- from the Louisiana Purchase to World War II to Hurricane Katrina -- with local and national characters, ranging from presidents to showgirls, to explain how Bourbon Street became an intri-guing and singular artifact, uniquely informative of both New Orleans's history and American society.
While offering a captivating historical-geographical panorama of Bourbon Street, Campanella also presents a contemporary microview of the area, describing the population, architecture, and local economy, and shows how Bourbon Street operates on a typical night. The fate of these few blocks in the French Quarter is played out on a larger stage, however, as the internationally recognized brands that Bourbon Street merchants and the city of New Orleans strive to promote both clash with and complement each other.
An epic narrative detailing the influence of politics, money, race, sex, organized crime, and tourism, Bourbon Street: A History ultimately demonstrates that one of the most well-known addresses in North America is more than the epicenter of Mardi Gras; it serves as a battle-ground for a fund-amental dispute over cultural authenticity and commodification.
Exploring the Crescent City from the ground up, Richard Campanella takes us on a winding journey toward explaining the city’s distinct urbanism and eccentricities. In Cityscapes of New Orleans, Campanella—a historical geographer and professor at Tulane University—reveals the why behind the where, delving into the historical and cultural forces that have shaped the spaces of New Orleans for over three centuries.

For Campanella, every bewildering street grid and linguistic quirk has a story to tell about the landscape of Louisiana and the geography of its bestknown city. Cityscapes of New Orleans starts with an examination of neighborhoods, from the origins of faubourgs and wards to the impact of the slave trade on patterns of residence. Campanella explains how fragments of New Orleans streets continue to elude Google Maps and why humble Creole cottages sit alongside massive Greek Revival mansions. He considers the roles of modern urban planning, environmentalism, and preservation, all of which continue to influence the layout of the city and its suburbs. In the book’s final section, Campanella explores the impact of natural disasters as well-known as Hurricane Katrina and as unfamiliar as “Sauvé’s Crevasse,” an 1849 levee break that flooded over two hundred city blocks.

Cityscapes of New Orleans offers a wealth of perspectives for uninitiated visitors and transplanted citizens still confounded by terms like “neutral ground,” as well as native-born New Orleanians trying to understand the Canal Street Sinkhole. Campanella shows us a vibrant metropolis with stories around every corner.

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