The river town of Natchitoches dates to 1714, when French traders paddling up the Red River from the Mississippi put down roots here, making it the oldest permanent settlement in the entire 828,000-square-mile Louisiana Purchase. It immediately impresses me as a downsized version of New Orleans’ Royal Street, with its filigreed iron balconies, antiques stores, and art galleries.
Homegrown, unique, and thoroughly wonderful, Louisiana has a character all its own. “[It] is another country,” local historian Charles Chamberlain says. “But you better see it soon; who knows how long it’s going to last.” By the time Thomas Jefferson bought the land from Napoleon in that 1803 geopolitical fire sale, he explains, this French colony was well populated with French and Spanish immigrants, refugees from Haiti, and Congolese slaves, all of whom had seeded the land with their cultures, foods, and traditions. Here’s a look at New Orleans.
The crouching lion with a man’s head was ancient when Cleopatra gazed upon it in 47 B.C. It retains its allure to the powerful, as world leaders from Napoleon to Barack Obama have trekked to Giza to contemplate the same view that captivated the queen of the Nile.
“Eat Local” may be a national trend, but in steamy, dreamy New Orleans the focus is on local living. The Crescent City is fiercely devoted to its homegrown traditions–be they culinary, musical, cultural, or otherwise. Though some of our habits and haunts–like gumbo, go-cups, and the French Quarter–are famous the world over, others remain a bit more elusive to visitors. Here are just a few of them.
Mount Rushmore was conceived in the early 1920s by historian Doane Robinson to draw tourists to South Dakota. Today, nearly three million visitors come each year to ogle the massive busts, each as tall as a six-story building. Here are some fun facts about the national masterpiece.