At the moment, a handful of Bourbon Street bars are open. On any given day, the riverfront is dotted with joggers, bikers and dog walkers. And infrequent bands of tourists amble through Jackson Square, cameras in hand. Today, New Orleans is a week into reopening under Phase 1. To many of us, the famed French Quarter feels much too full these days. To others, too empty.
During this odd, in-between time, it’s worth looking back at how COVID-19 stopped the beating heart of New Orleans and to hope that it won’t again. The first week of shelter-in-place we took a walk through our neighborhood to see how a 24 hr party city looks when the streets are empty.
Typically open 24 hours a day every day but Christmas, the world-famous Cafe Du Monde shuttered its iconic patio.
Few times in the city’s 302-year history has Jackson Square remained this empty during open hours.
Early mornings in the French Quarter, like this one, are always quiet. But during the first days of the shutdown, the streets remained this empty at any hour.
Decatur Street’s shoulder to shoulder crowds stayed home; it’s t-shirt shops and bars, boarded up.
Pirate’s Alley, tucked away beside the cathedral, remained quiet during shutdown.
Less than a month before, New Orleans celebrated its biggest party of the year. Reminders of Mardi Gras hung from balconies and doorways around the French Quarter long after.
Typically crowded with musicians, palm readers and artists, the space in front of the St. Louis Cathedral was eerily quiet in the weeks after lockdown.
The late night diner Clover Grill, typically open 24 hours, closed for about 2 months.
A handful of restaurants in the French Quarter stayed open for takeout, including NOLA Poboys on Bourbon Street.
At first I was afraid.. But we will Survive! Murals and inspirational messages like this homage to Gloria Gaynor at Bourbon Pride began popping up on plywood-boarded windows.
The stalls and vendors vanished from the usually bustling French Market Bazaar.
The restaurants and shops sat as empty inside as the streets of the French Quarter were outside.
Bikes parked out front of Sidney’s Wine Cellar. The liquor store is one of the only businesses that stayed open.
As the sun goes down Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop would normally have crowds flowing into the street.
The 2020 still hung from a New Years celebration on one of the Pontalba Buildings framing Jackson Square.
A groundskeeper closed Jackson Square for the night.
Mule carriages would typically line up to collect tourists on the street in front of Jackson Square.
One of the Quarter’s main shopping thoroughfares, Chartres Street, silent at sunset.
Canal Street at dusk with zero traffic.
A lonely resident walked past a shuttered Palace Cafe.
Bourbon Street was quieter than even during hurricane season.
A lone jogger has Bourbon Street to themself.
Chairs, silverware, condiments and more remained stacked atop the dining tables inside the popular Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar.
The city had to put traps out for the abundance of rats that flooded the French Quarter after the restaurants closed down.
The back side of St. Louis Cathedral after the shelter in place order.