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Discover the Timeless Beauty of New Orleans in 12 Vintage Postcards

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Discover the Timeless Beauty of New Orleans in 12 Vintage Postcards

One of the most historic U.S. cities, New Orleans is also one of the most resilient. Despite the wreckage caused by Hurricane Katrina, the city is thriving, as it has for nearly 300 years. While vintage memorabilia often seems to depict days gone by, visitors today can still see all of the scenes in the following postcards from the 1940s. Some 75 years later, much remains as it was. Scroll through for a glimpse of the past then start planning your trip to visit these beautiful spots in person.

Join us to explore more of America’s Most Interesting City at AFAR Experiences New Orleans on October 11-13!

Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    1. Canal Street During Mardi Gras
    Wide, central Canal Street is ideal for Mardi Gras parades.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    2. Jackson Square
    Jackson Square in the French Quarter is the city’s oldest public park. It commemorates a site involved in the Battle of New Orleans in 1814. Historic buildings facing it include the Cabildo, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed, and St. Louis Cathedral.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    3. Canal Street
    Canal Street, one of the widest U.S. streets, has six lanes for cars and a pair of streetcar lines in the middle. When this postcard first appeared, it was the city’s main shopping district. Two of its classic department stores are now hotels, including a Ritz-Carlton, formerly the Maison Blanche.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    4. Metairie Cemetery
    Dating back to 1872, this 150-acre cemetery is a National Historic Landmark. Because much of New Orleans is below sea level, its cemeteries feature above-ground burial sites.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    5. The French Quarter
    The French Quarter, aka the Vieux Carré, is the oldest part of New Orleans, developed after the city’s founding in 1718. Among the quarter’s most noteworthy streets is Royal, shown here, notable for antique shops and art galleries, as well as historic buildings and courtyards.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    6. Port of New Orleans
    When this postcard was new, New Orleans was the fourth largest U.S. city in area. Although that is no longer true (it’s now 50th), the city’s port is among the country’s largest. As with all postcards shown here, the reverse bears the tagline: “New Orleans—America’s Most Interesting City.”
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    7. Lafayette Square
    First developed in the late 18th century, Lafayette Square is now popular site for jazz and blues concerts, across the street from the old city hall, now known as Gallier Hall, dating from antebellum times.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    8. Delgado Museum of Art
    Opened in 1911, this museum has been called the New Orleans Museum of Art since 1971. The collection is noted for its French, African, and American art, as well as a large sculpture garden in a tree-filled landscape.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    9. Lake Pontchartrain
    Lake Pontchartrain, actually a saltwater estuary of 630 square miles, is best known today for being crossed by the world’s longest continuous bridge over water, nearly 24 miles long. It opened in 1956.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    10. Audubon Park
    Take the St. Charles streetcar to this 350-acre park near Tulane and Loyola universities. Audubon Park’s many historic oak trees include some that are more than 250 years old. Highlights also include a zoo, aquarium, and insectarium.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    11. Huey P. Long Bridge
    Huey P. Long Bridge, named for the governor, opened in 1935 a few months after he was assassinated. It remains one of the longest rail bridges in the country. Although beloved by railroad fans, it was unpopular with drivers for decades until the narrow lanes were widened in 2013. It crosses the Mississippi upriver from New Orleans.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    12. St. Charles Avenue
    Five miles long, St. Charles Avenue is known for its streetcar line traveling past huge live oak trees and historic mansions, through the Garden District. It’s also a popular route for Mardi Gras parades.
    Courtesy of Pat Tompkins
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    What’s Next
    Photo by Rush Jagoe