NoLa Diary #8 – Glimpses of St. Mary Street

Corner of St Mary and Camp

Now that I’ve been in New Orleans a little over a week now, I’m glad I made the decision to stay in a neighborhood (not a hotel) because I feel in touch with the rhythms of the locals, and local businesses than I would have if I stayed in a hotel in the French Quarter. This is important to me since I’m here for 3 weeks, not the typical 3 day tourist stay.

Near where I’m staying is St. Mary Street. It’s part of the Lower Garden District. St. Mary’s runs from the Mississippi River to St. Charles Avenue. Running along St. Mary are several neighborhoods, which if I had to decide where to say “one side or the other” was I’d choose Magazine Street because it is such a “busy” (all things being relative in New Orleans) street with a majority of the local restaurants, antique shops and art / photography galleries.

I’ve walked St. Mary many times now since I’ve arrived, and the more often I walk along the sidewalks I’m coming to know, the more I like it. Just like I did on Magazine Street a few blog posts back, I decided to take a few shots of St. Mary to give a flavor of the neighborhood.

Half Moon Bar - St Mary

Above: The afternoon light casts a stark shadow from the Half Moon Bar sign across the face of the building, on St. Mary Street. A few empty tables and chairs sit on the sidewalk because the bar is quiet in the afternoon during the week. On the weekends it perks up a bit more.

Lucky Ladle - corner of St Mary and Magazine

On the corner of St. Mary and Magazine, as you can see from the image above, the corner building is undergoing renovations. Two doors down is the Lucky Ladle, a great breakfast spot. I’ve eaten at the Lucky Ladle a few times already. In addition to the wonderful food and good service, the works of local artists hang on the walls, and I admit, I have a soft spot for such places.

The first time I went in I met Bob, a local who eats there all the time. We chatted for a while and he shared his stories about himself and the neighborhood, which was fun. Then Bob let it slip that he goes to the Lucky Ladle so often they named a special after him on the menu! (It’s called the Bob Special and I can report it is completely delicious.)

Strangely, I feel more like I’m in New York when I’m in this neighborhood than when I’m anywhere else in New Orleans, so far. I’ve mentioned this to a few people I’ve spoken to, and they say others say that about this neighborhood too.

Maybe it’s because many people are from out of town and it’s a big mix of locals and transplants, or maybe it’s because art galleries are mixed with restaurants and antique shops and funky looking people walking down the street now and again; I don’t know. But I like it.

Light and shadows on St Mary

 

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2 Responses

  1. this one seems a nice district the houses remind an old nostalgic era of pre-war (pre-WWII) times.

    • This section of Magazine Street and St. Mary Street is one in recovery. Further “uptown” (towards Audobon Park and nearer to the mansions on St. Charles Avenue) is already well established and didn’t flood during Katrina, plus there is plenty of money over there.

      The section I’m showing didn’t have a ton of flood damage, but the neighborhood housed a set of “projects” and at that time (so the locals have told me) it was very dangerous and ridden with crime. It was unsafe during the day, and homocides were common.

      After Katrina the majority of the project buildings were torn down and a new set of bungalow style homes was put up, along with a WalMart to anchor the neighborhood. As I walk through the streets here I’m very impressed with how nice it looks, they have even installed solar panels on most of the houses here, which is fantastic.

      So this neighborhood is improving day by day, and I’ve been told it has improved tremendously over the past 2 years in particular.

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