Buildings of New Orleans: SAH/BUS City Guide
By Karen Kingsley & Lake Douglas University of Virginia Press (April 13, 2018)
Buildings of New Orleans is part of The Society of Architectural Historians Buildings of the United States series. Begun in 1976 it is a slowly growing project which will eventually reach 60 volumes covering all 50 states and many cities.
The book is structured into tours of specific areas. 13 within the city, two of the suburban parishes, and three driving tours farther down the river. A general architectural history of the city’s first three hundred years leads things off. As a quick primer, even those familiar with the timeline will benefit. The tours begin with the French Quarter and work out. Buildings are chosen for the contribution their story makes to a whole. Inevitably hundreds of worthy structures must be left out, but over three hundred places are included.
Each tour follows a list of entries containing the name, date of construction, architect, and location. Notable features of the building are then briefly described, former residents and purposes mentioned. Entries are usually no more than a few hundred words in somewhat small type.
Some who have purchased the book online have criticized the small size of the black and white pictures. This is not a book to display or marvel at the city from home, ideally it is a pocket companion as you find your way through it. The pictures will help you identify that you are in fact in front of the right building, and the descriptions will tell you what to look for. Flipping through it at home may give you some leads, and will certainly be educational but you wouldn’t read it straight through.
This is the most up to date guide you will find to the city, including new construction such as Musician’s Village and green spaces like the Laffite Greenway that have been created post-Katrina. It starts, as the city did, with the French Quarter but is a worthy companion for anyone, even a local, who wants to explore other areas.
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