Today, the characteristic wrought-iron buildings, the spirited sounds of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and the revelry on the cobblestones of Bourbon Street and beyond are not the only aspects of NOLA that visitors fall in love with.
A flurry of stylish hotels have recently opened their doors to accommodate the growing number of tourists. The 234-room Ace Hotel in downtown New Orleans’s warehouse district made its debut last spring with nuanced interiors by Roman and Williams (the building was originally a furniture store).
The reimagined Jung Hotel, one of the first to add live performances during the Jazz Age in the 1920s, recently reopened in the Biomedical district; the NOPSI opened last July in a building constructed in 1927 that was once home to the city’s power and transportation company. The newest kid on the hotel block will be the Four Seasons, which will break ground this year on Canal Street with the aim to redevelop the Mississippi riverfront. These new entrants set a slightly edgier tone for a city that has old-world glamor in spades, like The Roosevelt, which boasts the first bar that allowed women, in 1949.
The “soul of America” has an artistic groove to it, with its potpourri of cultural influences ranging from Creole to voodoo. A citywide contemporary art show called “Prospect.4: The Lotus Inside the Swamp” features works by 75 artists from 25 countries and runs through February 25.
One of the city’s most anticipated buildings is the Sazerac House Museum, which will open in 2019 on the historic Canal Street, just a few hundred yards away from the original Italianate-style Sazerac Coffee House, now a convenience store. The museum is a journey into the history and culture of spirits, in a city affectionately known for its skilled mixologists.
For history buffs, The National WWII Museum is going through a $370 million renovation that will quadruple its size this year, with additions to its exhibit space and its expansions of the library and archives. And a full-fledged New Orleans Jazz Museum opens in 2020.
Never one to shy away from the spirit of celebration, the city will host over 135 festivals this year, and Bourbon Street will weather the wear and tear of pedestrians with repaved cobblestones. At one time, the only way to access NOLA was to sail in: A new three-deck riverboat called The City of New Orleans sets sail on the Mississippi in January.
But it is the magic of the city beyond the revelry of Mardi Gras, the live jazz on Frenchmen Street, and the beaded necklaces found almost everywhere (including trees!) that makes New Orleans a destination with a truly unique voice, and one that continues to reinvent itself.