When people imagine New Orleans, the festive streets of the French Quarter come to mind: bright buildings with cast-iron balconies, plants and flags draped all around. According to my Gallier House tour guide, about 80% of the iron in the city is original. It was poured into molds before installation, then painted black to restore and strengthen it. That means that some of these balconies are older than the Louisiana Purchase, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Jazz Age, and the Civil Rights Movement. With all the history these centuries-old buildings have seen, they seem to stand alive, their own characters in the complicated, violent, romantic story of the city.
Here are some of my favorite images of the buildings and gardens of New Orleans.