Sense of Place- New Orleans



Ah, New Orleans, home of Louis Armstrong, Café Du Monde, and the infamous Bourbon street.  An oasis for musicians, artist, culinary sophisticates, and other things I dare not mention.  New Orleans has within it some of America’s oldest neighborhoods dating back to the 18th century and many of them embody a great quality of “sense of place”.  To quote a famous architecture critic, Paul Goldberger, “In an age where we can be anywhere, what does it mean to be somewhere?” In other words are we creating meaningful and memorable places our kids and generations will want to live and visit.   That question has always resonated with me and reminds me that the making of place is so important. Will we create places that spawn and influence creativity, culture, and community, and a higher quality of life? In the age of the automobile, webcams, and television, I can’t help but wonder if we will loose the curiosity to experience and explore. Technology will never satisfy the great occasion of walking the French Quarter streets and feeling a true sense of place,  and the feeling you can see the arch of time, the colorful visual stimulation where broad palates of pastels, whites, and warm colors are the vertical fabric of facades all specific and fashionable to a certain period in French Quarter history.  The smell of coffee from cafes, whiskey from bars, Creole food, and even the bizarre odor of aging are strangely memorable to making of place.  Nothing can replace the experience of Jackson Square watching the artist sell their work, jazz musicians playing their music, and absorbing the view of the public and monumental buildings from a plaza park bench.   I encourage on your next vacation to find out what makes where your destination are so special.  Ask yourself, what brings me back to this place or what made me come here in the first place?  Remember to take in the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations all around you.  I have done this in New Orleans and I must say it holds a very special place in my heart. 

Do you have a favorite town or city that has a “great sense of place” and what makes it so memorable to you?  Please share your comments …