New Orleans: St. Louis Cathedral


The St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans’ French Quarter is certainly one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.  The church holds the distinction of being the oldest continually-operating cathedral in the U.S.  In one form or another, a church has stood on this property since the early 1700’s.  The current cathedral dates back to 1850, when during a remodeling project, the structure was almost completely rebuilt.

St. Louis Cathedral stands behind Jackson Square, just two blocks away from the Mississippi River.  Despite being so close to the river, the cathedral weathered Hurricane Katrina fairly well.  Aside from some water damage from a leak in the roof and a couple of downed trees, the only damage came to a statue of Jesus, which lost two fingers (supposedly, as He flicked the storm away from the city).

St. Louis Cathedral is flanked by two other important historic buildings.  The matching Cabildo (on the left) and Presbytere (on the right) date back to 1799 and 1813, respectively.  The Cabildo originally served as the home of the Spanish municipal government, while the Presbytere served for a while as the home of the Louisiana Supreme Court.  Both buildings are now part of the Louisiana State Museum.

I found a good view of the entire scene by walking up the levee towards the Mississippi River.

There’s a sidewalk on the top of the levee.  In addition to the good view of the river and the cathedral, you can also get a good appreciation for New Orleans’ precarious below-sea-level location.  The surface of the Mississippi River was much higher than I had expected, after climbing up the dry side of the levee.

Back down at street level, I admired the bright sign for Jax Beer, before walking on down Decatur Street.  The church is about six blocks north of Canal Street, and my hotel was only two blocks further up Canal.

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