Royal Street, New Orleans
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Royal Street (Spanish: Calle Real; French: Rue Royale) is a street in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is one of the oldest streets in the city, dating from the French Colonial era, and is most well known for the antique shops, art galleries, and stately hotels that line its sides as it runs through New Orleans' French Quarter and tourist district. Royal Street is the best known street in the French Quarter besides Bourbon Street.
The street starts at Canal Street (above Canal Street the equivalent street becomes Uptown New Orleans' St. Charles Avenue). It runs down through the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny, Bywater, and Lower 9th Ward neighborhoods to the Jackson Barracks at the border of St. Bernard Parish. The Industrial Canal forms a gap in the street between the Bywater and Lower 9th Ward neighborhoods.
The most famous section of Royal street is the portion in the upper French Quarter, known for its scores of opulent antique shops and art galleries. Despite its orderly nature, it is located only one block south of the party atmosphere of Bourbon Street. The prices at its art shops and antique stores tend to be very high; indeed, it has been listed as one of the most expensive places to shop in the world. The finer antique shops display not simply items that are old, but such rare items as pieces of fine art furniture owned by royalty of past centuries. Although such pieces are out of the budget of all but a few visitors, window shopping along Royal Street is a popular pastime for visitors, especially art lovers, even if they are not buying. The 700 block of Royal features the galleries of New Orleans-based artists Ally Burguieres and George Rodrigue.
The portion of Royal Street between St Louis and St Ann streets is closed to traffic every afternoon to create a pedestrian mall. During this time, numerous street performers set up in the street. Though the quality of performers ranges widely, some of the best up and coming jazz bands in New Orleans can be seen here regularly.
Royal Street also includes restaurants, ranging from the upscale Brennan's through midrange and budget options, as well as luxury hotels such as the Omni Royal Orleans and the Hotel Monteleone. Below Jackson Square, Royal becomes more of a mix of residential and neighborhood businesses.
Despite catastrophic damage in most of the city caused by the failure of the Federal levee system during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Royal Street was spared by the great flood other than the section in the Lower 9th Ward, as it is in the naturally higher ground near the Mississippi River levee. Flooding was only minor and restricted to the street while most sidewalks and stores remained free of floodwaters. During the aftermath of the storm most of the French Quarter was not significantly looted, and many of the antique shops remained untouched.
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