"Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together." ~Carl Zwanzig
Of all the streets in the French Quarter, Decatur Street is one that you cannot miss. Once called Levee Street until 1870, the street was named after Commodore Stephen Decatur in the US Navy who became a hero because of his tactics against Algerian pirates at Tripoli on the notthern coast of Africa. There are many things to see and do on this street:
1. At the heart of New Orleans, you'll find the Jackson Square, a bronze statue of Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans/ War of 1912, and the St. Louis Cathedral.
2. Even if you're not Catholic, the Cathedral is an amazing sight to see with its art and architecture.
3. On the sides of the St. Louis Cathedral are Pirate's Alley, a once black market to the pirates of New Orleans, the Cabildo, and the Presbytere.
4. The orange and white buildings on the sides of the Jackson Square are the Pontabla Buildings named after the Baroness Pontabla who survived being shot by her father-in-law. If you look closely, in the wrought-iron lacework, you can see the initials "AP". Her maiden name, Almonaster, and her married name, Pontabla. A little lagniappe: the Baroness had a crush on Andrew Jackson, and it was said that he wouldn't return her affections, or even tip his hat to her. The Baroness got the last laugh because the Jackson Statue now forever tips his hat at her (buildings).
5. Restaurants are plentiful on Decatur Street! Central Grocery Co. has your muffalattas and other Italian items. The Hard Rock Cafe has your typical American meal with hamburgers, steaks, salads, and cheesecake. Cafe Maspero is a New Orleans favorite for its red beans and rice, and other creole dishes. Cafe du Monde has your powdered sugar doughnuts called beignets, hot chocolate, and coffees.
6. There is plenty of shopping opportunities on Decatur. The Jax Brewery has a large shopping mall with restaurants. Some souvenir stores coexist on Decatur, but my two favorites are Jazz Funeral and House of Voodoo because of the selection and great prices.
7. House of Voodoo is a must-see store. As a shop for the paranormal enthusiasts with t-shirts, cups, and everything else as a souvenir from love and voodoo kits to Mardi Gras beads, the back of the shop is what you need to see. The back wall has a scene of a New Orleans' cemetery. The shop has a restroom, but I doubt you'd want to you use since a skeleton (who wasn't a customer) eternally occupies it. The shop Jazz Funeral, further down from the Brewery, has its own eerie carriage with a skeletal driver. And he makes a great postcard to send home to friends.
8. If you follow Decatur Street, it will turn into North Peters, and you begin to see the French Market. Another interesting place to buy souvenirs, but some may be pricey than others. Also, keep your purses and wallets where you can see them.