Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Orleans on twenty-five cents a day

Thirty cents, if you include cigars with your meals. That's how much Lafcadio Hearn showed his readers you could get by on, if you avoided overpriced boarding house fare. Granted, that was in 1878, but still, a long way from Rachael Ray's $30.

On his arrival in New Orleans a year earlier, his first impression, as recorded in the article "Memphis to New Orleans" about his trip and arrival, was already of ruin and dilapidation. Again, from 1878: "I must speak with pain of her decay. The city is fading, mouldering, crumbling...Many of her noblest buildings are sinking into ruin...falling into dilapidation and bare but too often are being removed to make place for hideous modern structures." (Reprinted in Inventing New Orleans, p. 45-46).

Hey, that's my architectural word of choice: hideous!

Maybe it's just my temperament. I should count my blessings that I truly live in such a golden age of hideous modern architecture. This way, I don't have to feel mournful for things that aren't nearly as bad as they're going to get.

No comments: