Thursday, April 19, 2007

More notes from New Orleans

I drove up to Metairie yesterday, to check out the book stores and the Galactic Games game store. First I went back to the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and took some more photos, this time with the ISO settings correct on the camera!

It appears that Metairie has mostly recovered. I didn't see much hurricane damage at all. Lots of homes had new paint, suggesting that they have been repaired. The roads were busy and I didn't see any closed stores (though there was a Wendy's lot that no longer has a Wendy's; not sure if that was due to the hurricane or not).

Alana was in various parts of New Orleans yesterday with LaCHIP. She says that the poorer sections don't look much better than they did back in December. There are still problems with wrecked buildings, with restoration going slowly. There are all sorts of help wanted signs. Stores can't open without employees, employees can't move back to those areas without housing.

Alana heard on the news that the number of restaurants open in New Orleans has now reached pre-Katrina levels. That's the good news. The bad is that a higher percentage of these restaurants are fast food places. There still aren't enough tourists to push upper scale eateries outside of the French Quarter.

Below is a picture of something that's become controversial in the Crescent City:

The palm trees are back on Canal Street. Each of them is anchored by four lines looped around the trees. You can also see that not only do they line the streetcar tracks, but they also line the street in general.

Each of those trees cost $1000. I don't know how much the additional landscaping cost. I easily counted well over 20 trees in that one section of Canal Street. Proponents point out that the life blood of New Orleans is tourism, and that the trees are a symbol of the city's recovery. It also makes the city look pretty. Critics point out the areas of the city that are still devastated while money is spent on "beautifying" the downtown core.

I think this is a case where the city council couldn't do anything right. They do need to make the city attractive to visitors. There are a fair number of tourists in the Quarter, but less than any other time I've visited the city except for last December. At the same time the council can't blame people living in trailers for being upset for this expenditure.

At any rate, tourists to the city are in for a treat this week. Except for a couple of nights of late evening showers, the weather has been wonderful. Today the temperature is in the low to mid 80s, and there isn't a cloud in the sky.

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