Looking forward.

New Orleans.

You don’t think of my city this way. It’s true. We are funky. We are old. We have many buildings that are well over 100 years old. Houses in the Garden District are 150 years old. My first house in the 7th Ward was built in 1837. It was the second common house that was built on a plantation that grew indigo. You know. The stuff that makes your blue jeans, blue.

First and foremost for most of our history, New Orleans is a port city. A business hub. People worked here to sell cotton, sugar, rice. They imported coffee and vegetables from South America. The Bywater, which has become gentrified and a place to go for dinner and to stay in Air BnB lodging, was the country’s chief importer and processor of coffee. And, bananas.

That’s all changed. But, we still have a pretty good-sized business district. These days a lot of former office spaces have been converted into condo and high-end apartments.

After all, our biggest business is tourism.

That’s kind of too bad. We’ve gone from making, and doing, to serving. That happened long before my time. I have no issue with that except… the local newspaper just published a study on salaries in the service industry.

Unless you have a name as a chef or something equivalent, the highest pay you’ll make is around $14.85 per hour. It goes down from there. That’s not good. Not in a city that has rapidly gentrified. Not in a city where most of the folks who are part of the culture that tourists come here to see can’t afford to live here. In a city where most of the folks working in the service industry have to have more than one job to afford the rent.

I know. I know. That isn’t limited to New Orleans. Some places have it worse. Much worse. Think about San Francisco or Los Angeles. I grew up in Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles. If we sold everything, I’m not sure we could go back to my home even if we wanted to. I’m not sure that I do. I think it’s crowded and traffic is terrible here. Think about the Los Angeles region. Sheesh. It would drive me crazy.

The picture. Not a drive by. But, a drive through. I was waiting for the light to turn green. The light you see towards the bottom of the picture. I decided that I liked what I saw so I made the picture. I’ve done that in the past as I passed through the French Quarter on the way to some place else.  I actually proved a point with this picture. An editor with whom I work wants me to photograph something specific. It needs a city-like background. She thinks of NOLA in the same way that so many people do. The funky, old French Quarter. I emailed her this picture. Now, she thinks differently. The funny thing is, if you are walking up Bourbon or Royal streets, you can see this if you just look up. Too many people are looking down into their hurricanes and wondering where the time went.

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7 Replies to “Stone, Metal and Glass”

  1. Nice image.
    Yes New Orleans has huge and diverse history. I’m not sure how much people appreciate that, even tourist.
    That article you read did it also write about automation? If not, one I read said that the service jobs would be the last to be automated because the cost warranted. Pay was so low for these jobs it would cost more to buy the technology that continue to pay the low wages. Sad but it’s one way to keep a crummy job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tourists don’t come here for anything but the Quarter, maybe a ride on the streetcar on St. Charles Avenue and shopping on Magazine Street. Most never leave the Quarter.

      This piece was just about wages, which has become a big topic here because of gentrification.

      As far as AI goes in the restaurant biz, I have read enough to know that it has failed in every place it was tested. It works in some other cases. Airline and hotel check ins is one that comes to mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice post. As a European (I’m French and British), I smiled when reading your first paragraph. The striking difference in the notions of time and space between Europe and North America is fascinating. You have so much space; we have so much history, and 200 years is nothing to us. I envy the space you have on your “side of the pond”, though… And New Orleans has kept a very interesting connection with its French past.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice post. As a European (I’m French and British), I smiled when reading your first paragraph. The striking difference in the notions of time and space between Europe and North America is fascinating. You have so much space; we have so much history, and 200 years is nothing to us. I envy the space you have on your “side of the pond”, though… And New Orleans has kept a very interesting connection with its French past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. The space is all relative. So much is unused and for most people probably, never will be used. My favorite place, aside from here, is New Mexico. There are biggish cities and miles and miles of land in between. Time my be relative too. To your British side, I live for six years in Hong Kong. 100 years old is old to them. 🙂

      Like

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