Imagine spending a leisurely evening in the French Quarter, lounging under the newly installed ferns on Bourbon Street and sipping your Huge Ass Beer.
I don't know. I'm having a little trouble picturing it.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration announced Tuesday it is dropping a controversial part …
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's drive to clean up and secure the Quarter's seamiest strip apparently includes not just more policing and crowd control, but also an attempt to crack down on a "culture of lawlessness," as City Planning Commission Deputy Director Leslie Alley put it at a public meeting this week.
That apparently means not just blocking off Bourbon Street to traffic, increasing video surveillance and cracking down on code violations, but also adding outdoor seating and greenery. Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Hebert said the model would be nearby Royal Street, which on weekend days becomes a family-friendlier pedestrian promenade full of musicians and street performers.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu will face two big hurdles in implementing the new security plan for the…
To say this would change the character of a street known internationally for its strip clubs and boisterous bars is an understatement. And frankly, the city at large has never had much of a discussion about whether such a change would be popular.
Security is one thing, and an important one, given recent shootings and the possibility that Bourbon Street could be targeted for a terrorist attack.
But concerns over possible Disneyfication are real. You can't say that places don't fundamentally change after such civic-minded initiatives. When I lived in New York in the late 1980s, Times Square was seedy, to say the least. I visited the city over the weekend, and while turning a corner, I nearly collided with Minnie Mouse (a Minnie Mouse, I should say, because she did not appear to be the only one).
And while people visit New Orleans for all sorts of reasons, it would naïve to think that the general edginess doesn't hold appeal. On the plane back home, I eavesdropped as one perfectly respectable-looking fellow passenger described to another, with some wonder in his voice, about how you can get a drink to go and just walk around.
Literal lawlessness is obviously a serious concern. The sense that the rules are at least somewhat different here, though, is definitely part of the city's charm, for some folks, anyway. And I'd really have to wonder what would take its place.