Sunday, November 07, 2010

An empire of boulevards.

Now that's what I call a genuine New Orleans Southern Oak.
Somewhere on Esplanade Avenue.
Contrary to what many Bostonians may thing, Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans is pronounced "Esplan-Aid"  not "Esplan-ahd."  The city is full of unfamiliar pronunciations.  Dryades Street is just "Drieds," Clio Street is "Cl-eye-o."  Conti Street is "Cont-eye."  Burgundy is "Burr-GUN-dee."  Chartres is "Charters."  Who said French is alive and well in New Orleans?

I was on Grand Route St. John today.  How's that for a street name?  Nice street.  It intersects with Mystery Street parallel to Ponce de Leon Street.  One of the pleasures about tootling around New Orleans is not the streetscapes themselves, which are lush, but the names of the streets.  Whatever collective, subconscious genius named these roadways did a dandy of a job.

Humanity Street, Desire Street, Law Street, Magazine Street, Coliseum Street, Camp Street, Gen. Pershing Street, General De Gaulle Drive, Barracks Street, Rampart Street (North and South), Music Street, Jewel Street, Warbler Street, Elysian Fields Avenue...a body can get lost in the mind's associations.

Some streets are dull.  Most are interesting.  New Orleans is full of surprises around most corners.  The city is a work in progress, rebuilding itself from the sediment up.  Vast in area and dense in details, wandering New Orleans is an expedition that brings as many rewards as a Kenyan safari.  What should be familiar, disorients.  What seems repetitive is perfected in each, next incarnation.  

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