entrance to Loyola University
I arrived in New Orleans yesterday afternoon. After getting settled into university housing at Loyola, I decided to take an impromptu tour of the city. The first obstacle was getting around. I figured that I would hop on the St. Charles streetcar and ride it to Canal St. and then make my way over to the Convention Center to check in for the ALA Conference. At the lobby I asked where to board the street car--basically I wanted to know where St. Charles Ave. was--it did not occur to me that the street car was not in service. Plan abandoned. The receptionist suggested that I board the St.
fountain in Audobon Park
Charles bus because it follows the same route. Satisfied with this, I took the instructions and headed down the street.
I arrived at the corner of St. Charles and Calhoun only to find no evidence of a bus stop. Undetered, I crossed the street and headed over to the Audubon Park. I figured that if I waited a few minutes and observed, I could figure out where the bus station was. Sure enough two minutes later a bus came roaring down the street and someone got onto the bus. I headed over to that spot as fast as I could. Oddly enough, when I got there I couldn't find a single shred of evidence that indicated that it was a bus stop. At this point I was dripping in sweat. It was 90 degrees outside and so humid that I was miserable in my jeans.
vintage street car on Canal St.
I decided to walk around the park for a few minutes and then head down St. Charles in search of another bus stop (I wasn't convinced a bus would stop for me if I stood in that exact same spot). A quarter mile down the street I saw a small gathering of teenage boys. Again, no sign, no indication whatsoever that that spot was a bus stop, but several minutes later the bus stopped and we all boarded. Then it dawned on me: the little orange sign across the street on the median that's barely visable says "Car stop" and that indicates a bus stop. I'm now an expert.
A short history of New Orleans streetcars: New Orleans is well known for its streetcars. Prior to Hurricane Katrina there were three operating lines: Canal St.
streetcar stop on the Riverfront Line
St. Charles Ave., and the Riverfront. The St. Charles Ave line is the longest line in New Orleans and is the oldest continuously operated streetcar line in the world. Currently, the St. Charles line is not operating due to structural damages that occurred during Katrina (the vintage streetcars themselves were not damaged because they were stored in a barn that did not experience any damage). While in New Orleans, I saw several crews working on the lines and the city hopes to have the St. Charles streetcar operating again this fall.