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From Dusk to Dawn: A Depression Era Guide To New Orleans

At the arrival of dawn, disciples of the night turn to the French Market, where society matrons and truck-drivers sit on stools and drink coffee in friendly proximity. Another well-known place for ending the evening is the all-night poor boy stand of the Martin Brothers (2004 St. Claude Ave.), where appetites otherwise insatiable can be appeased for ten cents. Beyond the city limits in the adjacent parishes of Jefferson and St. Bernard are several large and elaborately appointed gambling-houses: the Old Southport and the Original Southport in Jefferson Parish (taxi 40 cents within a half block of either place), and the Jai Alai, Arabi Club, and Riverview in St. Bernard Parish (taxi 75 cents). All may be reached by street-car. Although gambling is, strictly speaking, illegal, these places are usually open for business from dusk to dawn.
"HAVE you ever been in New Orleans? If not you d better go.
It s a nation of a queer place; day and night a show!
Frenchmen, Spaniards, West Indians, Creoles, Mustees,
Yankees, Kentuckians, Tennesseans, lawyers and trustees,

Negroes in purple and fine linen, and slaves in rags and chains.
Ships, arks, steamboats, robbers, pirates, alligators,
Assassins, gamblers, drunkards, and cotton speculators;
Sailors, soldiers, pretty girls, and ugly fortune-tellers;
Pimps, imps, shrimps, and all sorts of dirty fellows;

A progeny of all colors an infernal motley crew;
Yellow fever in February muddy streets all the year;
Many things to hope for, and a devilish sight to fear!
Gold and silver bullion United States bank notes,
Horse-racers, cock-fighters, and beggars without coats,
Snapping-turtles, sugar, sugar-houses, water-snakes,
Molasses, flour, whiskey, tobacco, corn and johnny-cakes,
Beef, cattle, hogs, pork, turkeys, Kentucky rifles,
Lumber, boards, apples, cotton, and many other trifles.
Butter, cheese, onions, wild beasts in wooden cages,
Barbers, waiters, draymen, with the highest sort of wages."
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THIS was written more than a hundred years ago, when New Orleans had already passed its first century mark, by one Colonel Creecy, a man of parts and of gusto. New Orleans today, with a population of nearly half a million, the largest city south of the Mason-Dixon line, and one of the largest ports in the United States, is remembered with pleasure by countless travelers who have taken the colonel's advice.

Alligators, to be sure, are now seldom encountered outside of curio stores; but cotton speculators are still at large. Sailors and pretty girls, horse-racers and cock-fighters are always with us, to say nothing of the pimps and the imps and the shrimps. And there are the Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, the cemeteries above ground, the river, the lake, the food, and the drinks.

Traditionally the city that care forgot, New Orleans is, perhaps, best known for its liberal attitude toward human frailties, its Live and Let Live policy. To the tourist the city is first of all a place in which to eat, drink, and be merry. Generations of gourmands and tipplers have waxed fat on gumbo and bouillabaisse and pompano, and gay on gin fizzes and absinthe drips and Sazerac cocktails; many of them, Thackeray and Mark Twain included, have communicated their appreciation of the American Paris to the world. Generations of revelers have gone their joyous way through Carnival Season to Mardi Gras, that maddest of all mad days when every man may be a king, or, if he prefers, a tramp or a clown or an Indian chief, and dance in the streets. Generations of dandies and sports and adventurers have, with their ladies, played fast and loose in the gambling-houses and sporting houses of the American Marseilles. Ever since the middle of the eighteenth century, when the Marquis de Vaudreuil attempted to set up in Nouvelle Orleans a miniature Versailles, a reputation for gaiety and abandon has persisted.


From Dusk to Dawn: A Depression Era Guide To New Orleans
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