Monday, December 14, 2015

Streetcars - 12/14/15 - New Orleans, LA

Monday – December 14, 2015
New Orleans, Louisiana

We spent Sunday relaxing at our campsite at the Bayou Segnette Campground in Westwego, Louisiana. Overcast skies, with gusty winds approaching 25 mph, dominated the region. Thunderstorms were forecast to hit the area around 5:00 p.m. However, the worse part of the storm passed to the north of the campground. It wasn’t until around 9:00 p.m. a few rain showers, with gusty winds, passed through our location.

We awoke to a beautiful day: clear blue, sunny skies with the temperature forecast to reach 71 degrees. Perfect weather to spend our last day in New Orleans riding the streetcars!

New Orleans has these quaint, 1940’s era, streetcars that operate through specific regions of the city. Fares are $1.25 per ride or $3.00 for a 1-Day Pass that is good for unlimited rides.

New Orleans streetcars currently operate four lines, all of which connect on Canal Street:

St. Charles Line:
The streetcar leaves from the corner of Canal and Carondelet streets. This 13.2-mile route traverses the Central Business District, the Garden District and Uptown, turning onto Carrollton Ave.

Riverfront Line:
This 1.8-mile route runs along the Mississippi River from the lower French Quarter to the foot of Canal Street.

Canal Line:
This line connects with the St. Charles and Riverfront lines. Some Canal streetcars (marked "City Park" ) take the "spur" down Carrollton to City Park; other (marked "Cemeteries") continue to the end of Canal Street.

Loyola Line:
This new line runs from Union Passenger Terminal to Canal Street.

We parked at the Algiers Ferry parking lot ($5.00, all day). Unfortunately the ferry was not operating upon our arrival, so we had to take the bus over to New Orleans (there is also a bus stop at the Algiers Ferry landing).

We rode the St. Charles streetcar first. The highlight of this trip was the ride through the Garden District. Multi-million dollar historic mansions and multi-family homes adorn both sides of the street, throughout the district. The architectural splendor of these magnificent mansions is breathtaking.

The area was originally developed between 1832 and 1900 and is considered one of the best-preserved collections of historic mansions in the Southern United States. The 19th-century origins of the Garden District illustrate wealthy newcomers building opulent structures based upon the prosperity of New Orleans in that era.

This whole area was once a number of plantations. It was sold off in parcels to mainly wealthy Americans who did not want to live in the French Quarter with the Creoles. It became a part of the city of Lafayette in 1833, and was annexed by New Orleans in 1852.

Originally the area was developed with only a couple of houses per block, each surrounded by a large garden, giving the district its name. In the late 19th century, some of these large lots were subdivided, as Uptown New Orleans became more urban. This has produced a pattern for much of the neighborhood: of any given block having a couple of early 19th-century mansions surrounded by late Victorian period homes. Thus, the "Garden District" is now known for its architecture more than for its gardens.

As the streetcar makes its turn onto Carrollton Ave. it passes by O’Henry’s Food & Spirits Restaurant. The restaurant is housed in a 2-story house that was filled with diners as we passed by it. The streetcar operator made a point of pointing this restaurant out to the passengers. I made a mental note to add this restaurant to our next visit to New Orleans.

After the 26-mile roundtrip ride we were ready for lunch. We ventured over into the French Quarter to seek out a restaurant for a Poboy sandwich. We chose the Tableau Restaurant at 616 St. Peter Street. We liked the open-air, upscale-type ambiance of the restaurant. We were not disappointed! Sharon had the Pulled Pork Sandwich and I had the Fried Shrimp Poboy. Both selections were delicious!

A short walk from the Tableau Restaurant brought us to the Riverfront Streetcar Line. We boarded the streetcar at the Toulouse Street stop and rode it to the end of the line to the French Market. We remained on the streetcar and on the return trip, disembarked at the Dumaine Street stop.

There was an important reason for getting off of the streetcar at the Dumaine Street stop. It was close to the Café du Monde at 800 Decatur Street. This café is known for serving up the best beignets!

We ordered one order of beignets (a serving of 3) and two café au laits. The beignets were so delicious, even better than the beignets we had on Saturday at another place, we got another order to-go.

We finished off our visit to New Orleans with a walk along the Mississippi Riverfront. The sun had set a couple of hours ago and the lights from the city’s high rise buildings and gambling casinos reflected off the surface of the water. We basked in the serenity of the moment as we made our way to the Algiers Ferry station. We were pleased to see the ferry was now operating. We would not have to take the bus to the Algiers Ferry parking lot, located on the other side of the Mississippi River.

So long New Orleans… see you again on our next visit!

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

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