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Take a Tour of Jackson Square and Surrounds in the French Quarter in New Orleans

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St. Louis Cathedral
St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral

Wayne Keating

St. Louis Cathedral:

The St. Louis Cathedral, just outside the Chartres Street gate was originally completed in 1729. It was destroyed twice by fires in 1788 and 1794. The existing cathedral was built after the last fire in 1794. This cathedral became St. Louis Basilica when Pope John Paul II visited in 1984.

Notice the two alleyways on the sides of the cathedral. The one on the left, between St. Louis Basilica and the Cabildo, is Pirate's Alley. It is thought to have been named after Jean Lafitte, the buccaneer who fought with Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. Also an adventurer, Lafitte was a smuggler who was popular with the locals. After a price was put on his head by the governor, Lafitte in turn put a price on the governor's head. Formerly officially Orleans Alley South, the alley was officially renamed in 1964. It is still paved with the original stones that had served as ballast on ships that cruised the Mississippi, and its central drainage is European in design. Pirate's Alley does not always appear on city maps, but it is an important area in the French Quarter. Faulkner House, where "A Soldier's Pay" was written, is in the middle of the alley.

If you walk down this alley, notice the drainage in the middle. This is the Europeon method of water drainage. Since New Orleans is in the Mississippi River Delta, we have no natural stone. The stones used to pave these streets and alleys in the 1700s was ballast thrown on the banks of the river by ships coming in to port and no longe in need of them. The citizens of New Orleans collected thses discarded stones for use in paving. Soon, the captians of the ships became aware of the use and began selling the stones.

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