In the September issue of Smithsonian, Randy Fertel explains why New Orleans is "my kind of town."
New Orleans is a Southern anomaly: in the South but not of the South, more Catholic (or pagan) than Baptist, as much Caribbean (or Mediterranean) as American. Almost everything here bears explanation, even how we orient ourselves. Because of the curve in the Mississippi River that makes us the Crescent City, we look to its West Bank for the sunrise. North Rampart is east of South Rampart. Since standard directionals are unreliable, we use our own: Lake Pontchartrain is on one side of the city; the Mississippi River on the other. Riverside and lakeside, Uptown and Downtown, as the river flows: those make up our compass rose.