In about 1900, two Creole sisters began serving tea and cakes behind their shop at 613 Royal St., in what would become The Court of Two Sisters restaurant.

Today’s French Quarter courtyards are tropical oases of shady comfort away from oppressive summer heat, often ornamented with stone benches and fountains.

But when the courtyards were conceived in the 1700 and 1800s, they were a place of labor, of mud and horses.

After the French Quarter fires in the late 1700s, new laws dictated the brick buildings that took the place of wooden homes.

These brick homes were built around courtyards. The courtyards held cisterns, chickens and outhouse. Often, the kitchen was placed in a separate building in the courtyard and kitchen gardens were planted adjacent. The courtyards, above all, were a practical necessity.

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