Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Managing your personal records

Archivist, manage thy records!

Spring -- a season long associated with cleaning and, at least in the United States, the filing of income taxes -- always brings forth a bouquet of news articles outlining just how long individuals should keep specific types of financial records. However, Jennifer Saranow Schultz's New York Times article, "Keep Your Financial Records No Longer Than You Must," really bears checking out. In addition to bearing a title guaranteed to make any records manager swoon with delight and providing a succinct overview of what to keep and what to toss, it provides some valuable advice for those of us who have become accustomed to banking online and to storing our records electronically: don't rely upon the online systems of banks and brokerages, remember that the Internal Revenue Service generally prefers paper records, and remain mindful of the security and accessibility concerns associated with electronic recordkeeping.

And for those of you hoping to partake of another popular springtime activity -- falling in love -- Debby Herbenek over at Gizmodo addresses a question of interest to ever-increasing numbers of heartbroken people: "Who Gets Custody of Shared Digital Memories When You Break Up?" Nowadays, one doesn't have to destroy photos in order to keep them out of an ex's hands; in our Web 2.0 world, a defriending or change of account permissions is all it takes. Herbenek recommends "that people save copies of photos they want" or ask their significant others for duplicates "while things are still good." I would suggest remaining single, which really will reduce the chance that you'll one day mourn the loss of your photos, your will to live, your sanity, or anything else; if this sentiment seems a bit tart to you, just wait until you see some of the crude responses to Herbenek's post!

Now if you'll excuse me, I really should do something about the box pictured above, which is an artifact of an unplanned and chaotic move a few years back. After a few years of not dealing with it, I decided that, even though it's not good records management practice, I could discard just about everything in the box if I just held onto it long enough. Judging from Saranow Schultz's article, "long enough" has arrived.

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Removing the Shroud of Secrecy": records management and open government

Last Tuesday (23 March), the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security held a hearing on "Removing the Shroud of Secrecy: Making Government More Transparent and Accountable." Members of the subcommittee, which is chaired by Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) heard testimony from, among others, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero and Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.

In his written testimony and in the Webcast of the hearing, Ferriero stressed the centrality of records management to good government: "the government cannot be accountable if it does not preserve -- and cannot find -- its records." He went on to assert that heads of federal agencies and other senior agency personnel "need to understand that the records and information they and their organizations are creating are national assets that must be effectively managed and secured so that the public can be assured of the authenticity of the record [emphasis added]."

Well said. It's all too easy to forget that government records and information are, fundamentally, public property and that they warrant the same careful stewardship as other public assets, and we archivists and records managers need to keep reminding others of this essential fact.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Open Government in the Digital Age Summit: videos, slideshow, and other resources

On 19 March, the New York State Chief Information Officer/Office for Technology (CIO/OFT)and the New York State Archives jointly hosted the Open Government in the Digital Age Summit in Albany. Speakers included Archivist of the United States Ferriero, U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government Beth Noveck, and e-Republic Inc. Chief Content Officer Paul Taylor.

CIO/OFT's Web site now features video recordings of all Summit speeches and panel discussions, Paul Taylor's PowerPoint presentation, and the final Summit agenda. It has also prepared a news release that captures many of the day's highlights and posted photos of the Summit on its Facebook page.

Over 150 people attended the Summit, which brought together information technology professionals, archivists and records managers, public policy experts, journalists, and others interested in the relationship between information technology, recordkeeping, and government accountability and transparency. If you're interested in these issues, be sure to check out the resources above.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Orleans: City Park and the Esplanade Ridge Historic District

Note: I planned to publish this post on the evening of 24 March, but exhaustion overtook me and I ended up going to bed before I could finish drafting the text and preparing the images. Between traveling home on 25 March and going into the office for half a day yesterday, I simply didn't have the stamina to finish it. Now that I've recovered a bit and the cats have forgiven me for abandoning them, I've found the time and the energy to do so. I hope you enjoy it.

Today was my last full day in New Orleans, and I opted to explore New Orleans City Park and the Esplanade Ridge Historic District. I did so in part because I wanted to visit the superb New Orleans Museum of Art, which is located within City Park, but I discovered to my dismay that the museum had closed early for a special event (thanks bunches for not noting this fact on your Web site, NOMA!) I had a lovely time nonetheless.

Prior to 29 August 2005, City Park's grounds were immaculately landscaped. However, the park and the surrounding area flooded when the levees safeguarding the city failed. Although the city has been working hard to restore the park to its former glory, it still looks a bit battered. Fortunately, many of the park's live oaks survived.

New Orleans City Park is one of the nation's largest urban parks, and it has something for everyone. In addition to the usual green space, tennis courts, walking paths, and picnic facilities, it has an amusement park, a botanical garden, a model train garden that features replicas of New Orleans landmarks, and Storyland, a fairy-tale themed playground filled with children joyfully climbing in and out of Cinderella's pumpkin carriage and darting around the home of the old woman who lived in a shoe.

I spent quite a bit of time at the New Orleans Botanical Garden, which began as a rose garden built by the Works Progress Administration. The garden, which features a series of Art Deco sculptures by Louisiana artist Enrique Alférez (Renascence is pictured above) is still recovering from Katrina. Some of the trees have died and others have had to be pruned radically, and some sections of the gardens are still being restored. It's a tranquil and fragrant respite nonetheless.

I was particularly taken with this staghorn fern-lined walkway. These striking ferns apparently do quite well in New Orleans' climate.

Many of the WPA-built structures in the botanical garden are still standing. This charming little building houses the succulent collection.

After I left the Botanical Garden, I went to the New Orleans Museum of Art's Sculpture Garden, which re-opened on 20 March after an extensive renovation and wasn't affected by the closure of the museum itself. The works in the Sculpture Garden consist chiefly of modern works, but it also has a number of older, largely French, bronzes. The grounds are beautifully landscaped -- nary a trace of Katrina remains.

Several of the artists represented in the Sculpture Garden have ties to New Orleans. George Rodrigue, who has a studio in the city and whose series of paintings of blue dogs has become synonymous with the Crescent City. We Stand Together (2006) features this icon; the other facets of the sculpture consist of the same dog in the other primary colors.

Jean-Michel Othoniel’s Tree of Necklaces (2002) evokes Mardi Gras. Bead-bedecked trees are a common springtime sight in New Orleans.

Claes Oldenburg’s Safety Pin (1999) amused me. I suppose other visitors might be inspired to look at safety pins in a new light, but I’ve been fascinated by the design of safety pins ever since I was a kid.

I love Louise Bourgeois’s work, which for the most part I’ve seen in museum installations. Spider (1999) is absolutely striking in an outdoor setting; someone really should created a sculpture garden composed exclusively of her giant arachnids. A couple of the children in the Sculpture Garden regarded this work with unease, but most of them were fascinated by it.

As I was walking through the Sculpture Garden, I kept hearing a rooster crowing. At first, I thought that it was an audio recording associated with one of the sculptures, but I was wrong: a rooster and a chicken -- gone feral, perhaps – were rooting around in the shrubbery behind Seymour Lipton’s Cosmos (1973) . . .

. . . which is pictured above.

George Segal’s Three Figures and Four Benches (1979) has been positioned carefully: the figures are contemplating the other artworks and the landscaping of the Sculpture Garden, and the vacant benches invite viewers to rest and do the same.

Alison Star’s Travelin’ Light (1999) honors victims of terror and violence. Although depicted in a tortured position, the figure is formally dressed and carries itself in a formal, dignified manner. Inspired by Japanese purification rites that involve the ringing of bells, Star made the figure a bell that can be rung by pulling a chain on its back.

After I left the Sculpture Garden, I started walking down Esplanade Avenue, which runs past City Park all the way down to the Mississippi River, into the uppermost reaches of the Esplanade Ridge Historic District. This part of the district sits a few feet above sea level and was spared the worst of the post-Katrina flooding. However, other portions of the district were badly flooded and are still struggling to recover. (As was so often the case, the flooding was most severe in areas that were home to poor and working-class people of color. All of New Orleans suffered as a result of Katrina, but those hit hardest were generally those least able to recover from the blow.)

I turned onto Moss Street, which abuts Bayou St. John, the site of the earliest settlement in the area: Canadians who came down the Mississippi River began building here in 1708, ten years before the founding of what is now New Orleans. The area was initially home to indigo plantations, and a number of grand 18th and early 19th century plantation homes survive.

During the 19th century, the area's population swelled. In the wake of the Louisiana Purchase, affluent Creoles (i.e., Louisiana-born descendants of French and Spanish colonists) determined to show up the Americans who settled the Garden District built grand homes on and around Esplanade Avenue. After the Civil War, the area attracted wealthy New Orleanians of varied backgrounds and people of more modest means who built smaller homes on parcels of subdivided plantation land.

At one point, Bayou St. John was a navigable waterway connected to Lake Ponchartrain, and the Carondolet Canal, which was built in the 1790s and filled in a few decades ago, connected the bayou to the Mississippi River. During the 18th and 19th centuries, many visitors to New Orleans entered the city via Bayou St. John. Now, however, it serves as a resting place for egrets, herons, ducks, and other birds and as a tranquil recreational area for area residents.

The Pitot House, a plantation home built ca. 1800, sits opposite Bayou St. John on Moss Street. However, according to the owner of a neighboring property who came out and talked to me when he saw me taking pictures of the area, the house was moved several hundred feet in order to make way for a new school building; much to his dismay, the move required the sacrifice of the playground on which he and other children who grew up in the neighborhood had played.

This helpful gentleman -- and a passing letter carrier who actually stopped his mail truck to give me pointers -- also directed me to other noteworthy houses on the same block.

The home at 1342 Moss Street, which was built for Évariste Blanc and his family in 1834, is now the rectory of the Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church.

The home at 1300 Moss Street was built ca. 1785, and the locals refer to it as the “Spanish Custom House” because it dates from the time of Spanish rule; however, there is no firm evidence it was ever used as a custom house. It was probably built for Don Santiago Lloreins, whose plantation encompassed the land in this area, and it is one of the oldest extant buildings in the city of New Orleans.

I then returned to Esplanade Avenue and started walking toward the Mississippi River.

Many of the homes along Esplanade Avenue are modest, but most of them are very well -- and very colorfully -- maintained.

The Luling Mansion, which is situated on Leda Street just off Esplanade and which I discovered quite by accident, differs quite markedly from most Italianate structures in New Orleans. It was built after the Civil War in the style of a Renaissance palazzo for Florence Luling, who made his fortune selling turpentine during the Union occupation of New Orleans. The Luling family, which had lived in the Garden District prior to having this home built, found that their ornate new home was a source of tragedy: both of Florence Luling’s young sons drowned in the nearby Bayou St. John. In 1871, the family sold the house and left New Orleans forever. Given this sad history, the house’s current forlorn state somehow seems appropriate; however, it was recently used as a film set for the remake of Night of the Demons (no doubt a timeless classic) and is being renovated.

This ornate Queen Anne home at 2809 Esplanade rivals anything in the Garden District. Note the black-and-gold fleur-de-lis flags, which are everywhere in New Orleans these days. This city must have gone absolutely wild on Super Bowl Sunday.

This Victorian gem at 2453 Esplanade is one of the few homes in the neighborhood that has a mansard roof. This house was originally one of a matching pair of homes, but the other home was torn down some time ago.

The French painter Edgar Degas stayed with his Creole relatives, the Mussons, in this home at 2306 Esplanade for approximately 6 months in 1872-1873. He produced several noteworthy paintings during his time in New Orleans. It should be noted that this house, which is now a bed-and-breakfast, has been altered extensively. At the time the Musson family lived here, it was a center-hall double gallery home. Some years after they left, part of the house was torn down, rendering it a side-hall house.

It was starting to get a bit late, so I headed back to the French Quarter and had dinner at the Chartres House Cafe, which is one of the few restaurants in the area that offers multiple vegetarian options. Its vegetarian muffaletta is tasty (and big enough for two people!) and it introduced me to the joy that is Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan.

I really enjoyed my time in New Orleans, even though it was painfully apparent that I'm only beginning to grasp what makes this extraordinary city so special. The Society of American Archivists is returning to the Crescent City in 2013, but I sure hope I'll be back before then.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Orleans: French Quarter and Algiers

I came to New Orleans with a lot of plans firmly set, but today I simply let circumstances dictate my itinerary. I had a full slate of plans for yesterday and have another set for tomorrow, and I felt the need for a little less structure today.

I started out at the Cabildo, which sits next to St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter. This late eighteenth-century building, which was originally the seat of the Spanish colonial government, later housed the Louisiana Supreme Court and other governmental bodies. It is now a Louisiana State Museum facility that interprets the history of New Orleans and its peoples -- Native American, French, Spanish, African, American, English, German, Italian, and Irish -- from the time of European exploration through Reconstruction. I had no idea that during the 19th century New Orleans was second only to New York as a port of entry for immigrants or that some of New Orleans' free people of color, intent upon preserving their social and economic status, actually fought for the Confederacy. The exhibits may be a bit text-heavy for younger visitors, but if you've got the time and the inclination to do a little reading, the Cabildo is worth a visit.

The Cabildo's Sala Capitular originally served as a city council meeting room and a courtroom, and continued to do so after the Louisiana Purchase. Moreover, officials twice convened in this room to transfer control of the colony: on 30 November 1803, the Spanish ceded control to the French, and on 20 December 1803 the French ceded it to the Americans.

After I left the Cabildo, I made my way through Jackson Square for café au lait and beignets at Café du Monde. The crush of people in and around the area kind of annoyed me -- I had forgotten just how touristy the Quarter is -- so I opted to go someplace quiet and contemplative: the Old Ursuline Convent.

In 1727, twelve Ursuline nuns arrived in New Orleans. They were the first nuns to come to what is now the United States, and they and their successors left an indelible mark on the city. They nursed the city's sick and educated its female children, and they fought tirelessly against what they saw as the city's woeful spiritual state: Sister Marie Madeleine Hachard concluded in 1728 that "the devil here has a very large empire, but this does not discourage us from the hope of destroying him." The Americans who assumed control of New Orleans in 1803 were a bit nonplussed by these educated, determined women, who owned a substantial amount of real property and did not shy away from defending their interests.

The Old Ursuline Convent, which was built in 1748-1752 in Louis XV style, is the only extant French colonial building in the French Quarter; fire and other disasters claimed the rest. Moreover, it is the oldest documented structure in the Mississippi Valley.

The graceful cypress staircase in the entry hall is even older than the rest of the convent: it was originally part of the first convent, which was built in 1734 but proved to be no match for New Orleans' subtropical climate.

Following a property dispute with the city government, the Ursuline sisters moved uptown in 1824. In the years that followed, the building has served as the residence of the Archbishop of New Orleans, an archdiocesan office,and even, for a short time, the meeting place of the Louisiana state legislature.

And just in case you were wondering whether there's an archival angle to any of this: the second floor of the Old Ursuline Convent now houses the archdiocesan archives, which are open to researchers who make advance arrangements. However, the original archives room, a simple, roughly 12' x 12' space, is located on the first floor and is thus open to visitors.

The convent is connected to the St. Mary's Church, which was built in 1845. For a long time, this church served the Italian immigrants who settled in the French Quarter.

One of the windows in the church commemorates the Battle of New Orleans, the final engagement of the War of 1812. The night before the battle began, the Ursuline sisters and relatives of the men fighting under Andrew Jackson prayed fervently for American victory. Even though the Americans were outnumbered and outgunned, they prevailed.

If you look closely at the bottom section of the window, you will see an American flag (center pane, second row). The city of New Orleans is depicted to the left of the flag, and the battle itself is depicted to the right of it.

After I left the convent, I headed further east across Esplanade Avenue and into the Faubourg Marigny, which was originally New Orleans' first suburb and is home to the bohemians who in decades past would have lived in the French Quarter. I stopped by Faubourg Marigny Art and Books, New Orleans's independent LGBT bookstore -- an endangered species these days -- and found an out-of-print book by Jane Rule.

I then walked down to the end of Esplanade Avenue and hopped the Riverfront streetcar to Canal Street, where on impulse I hopped the ferry to Algiers Point. Algiers, which was first settled in 1719 and annexed to the city in 1870, is located across the river from the rest of the city.

Algiers is home to a Bollinger Shipyards facility (seen here from the ferry as it sits at the Algiers dock) that repairs tugboats and other vessels. However, most of the area is residential. It's a quiet, charming-seeming place, and in many respects it feels more like a village than a city neighborhood. However, it's filled with fantastic, well-maintained examples of vernacular New Orleans architecture.

This simple shotgun home has been dressed up with Victorian trim, and many other houses in the area have Victorian decorative touches. Shotgun homes were popular not only because they promoted air circulation but because property taxes were at one point based on the width of one's lot; the depth of the lot was immaterial.

This slender shotgun home sits next to a two-story double, which was built to house two families. Two-story doubles exist throughout the city.

Algiers is also home to Craftsman homes, which can be found in many New Orleans neighborhoods.

This double gallery house has a hipped roof. Other double gallery houses in New Orleans have flat or side-gabled roofs.
This double shotgun home, which has been renovated extensively, has a partial second story. Such homes are commonly known as "camelback" or "humpback" homes. Camelback homes are also found throughout New Orleans, and the tax code may have facilitated their construction: for tax purposes, houses with partial second stories were classified as single-story homes.

I took the above picture while standing atop the earthen levee that stands between the Mississippi River and the Algiers neighborhood itself. Unlike the levees built adjacent to the 17th Street Canal, the London Canal, and the Industrial Canal, this levee held after Katrina hit. As a result, Algiers (which seems to have experienced its own post-Katrina problems) was one of the first New Orleans neighborhoods to reopen in the hurricane's wake.

A paved path runs atop the Algiers levee, which attracts people walking their dogs, running, riding their bikes, or simply seeking a quiet place to contemplate the river, the Central Business District, and the French Quarter. I spent a lot of time sitting on a bench, watching the ships, tugs and barges, and ferries ply the water -- New Orleans is one of the nation's busiest ports -- and enjoying the calm.

Tomorrow: City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and a few other destinations.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Uptown in New Orleans

This morning, I took the St. Charles streetcar uptown, i.e., to the west of the French Quarter and Central Business District. This section of the city was settled by the ever-increasing number of Americans who came to the city in the wake of the Louisiana Purchase and got a chilly reception from the descendants of French and Spanish colonists who lived in the Vieux Carré.

I started out in the Garden District at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, which was established in 1833 and is the third-oldest cemetery in New Orleans. A quick glance at the surnames on the tombs is testimony to the demographic changes that New Orleans has witnessed: most of the names on the tombs at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 are French or Spanish, but the tombs in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 bear English, German, Italian, Irish, and a smattering of French ones.

As is the practice in New Orleans, most of the dead in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 are in aboveground tombs or in wall vaults that line the walls of the cemetery. Although many of the tombs in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 are similar in style to those in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, there are also some fascinating differences. For example, there are several tombs in the above style at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and none at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

Most of the tombs contain the remains of multiple family members. Approximately twenty members of the Schau family have been interred in the tomb above.

I went to the cemetery with the intent of exploring it by myself; although prospective visitors are commonly warned to be mindful of their surroundings, the surrounding neighborhood is safe and the cemetery itself attracts a substantial number of tourists. However, the cemetery's pro bono director, who gives tours whenever he has the time and inclination, gathered a group of visitors together and talked about the cemetery and his work for about twenty minutes. He emphasized that, unlike many other city cemeteries, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 has always been non-denominational: from its inception, the tombs of Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish families have been built side by side.

He also asserted that, contrary to popular belief, New Orleans' aboveground cemeteries are the result of culture, not geography. The stony soil of the Mediterranean region led the Romans to inter their dead in caves or to build cairns, and to this day all of the societies that the Romans most heavily influenced (i.e., those that speak Romance languages) often inter their dead above ground. The French and Spanish colonists who settled New Orleans brought this cultural preference with them, and it remains to this day.

For those who preferred burial in the ground, coping graves such as those above were (and are) one way to avoid the problems posed by the city's geography. These graves consist of retaining walls that enable coffins to be placed roughly two to three feet below the earthen surface of the grave. The climate facilitates the breakdown of both wooden coffins and human remains, and as a result coping graves often house multiple remains. (NB: never walk on the earthen surface of a coping grave. Your weight might be just enough to break the lid of the coffin beneath you!)

He also discussed how he and his colleagues prepare for a burial: they verify that the tomb is in good enough shape for an interment, a sufficient amount of time has passed since the last interment, and the family has the appropriate paperwork. They then remove the plaque bearing the names of the people interred in the tomb (if there is one) and break the tomb's seal. Then they remove and bag any human remains and discard any remaining coffin pieces they find. After the interment ceremony, they place the bags containing removed remains back into the tomb, seal it, and replace the plaque.

Every tomb is owned by an individual, and deeds are commonly passed down through multiple generations. Each family is responsible for maintaining its own tomb, and some take this responsibility quite seriously. Although the sight of a brightly colored tomb may seem a bit unusual, many nineteenth-century tombs were decorated in this fashion. Save Our Cemeteries (which is not held in high regard by the executive director and others affiliated with the Lafayette Cemetery Research Project) decorated a number of tombs in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in this fashion, but the cemetery was flooded in the wake of Katrina and its handiwork was undone.

Other family members show their respects in a more personal manner. Someone must have been a Saints fan.

After I left the cemetery, I spent a little time exploring the Garden District, which was settled by the largely Protestant, English-speaking Americans who made their fortunes in New Orleans. They were determined to build a residential district that outclassed that of the established Creole elite, and the Garden District remains one of the city's most elegant and exclusive neighborhoods; in recent years, the neighborhood has been home to writer Anne Rice, actors Nicolas Cage (whose home is being sold at auction but who still owns a tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No 1) and John Goodman, and musician Trent Reznor.

Like the French Quarter, the Garden District and many other uptown neighborhoods are a few feet above sea level. Katrina's winds felled some trees and damaged some buildings, but the area was spared the horrific flooding that beset 80 percent of the city when the levees failed. As a result, some residents of neighborhoods that flooded in August 2005 refer to uptown as the "Isle of Denial."

The Americans who established the Garden District brought with them a host of architectural forms that were new to New Orleans. This stunning Victorian is a striking departure from the Creole cottages and townhomes of the French Quarter.

The Robinson House at 1415 Third Street was the first house in the district to have indoor plumbing. Its roof funneled rain water into a cistern, and gravity drew the water into the pipes.

A few homes in the Garden District do bear evidence of French influence. For example, this raised center hall villa emulates the grand plantation homes built by French colonists.

However, Gothic Revival -- a style that was extremely popular in many other U.S. cities -- was apparently a bit too much for the Protestants who initially settled the Garden District. The Briggs-Straub House at 2605 Prytania Street is the neighborhood's only Gothic Revival building.

Colonel Shorrt's Villa on the corner of Prytania and Fourth Street is renowned for its elaborate cornstalk-themed cast iron fence. Note the ears of corn atop the fence post.

As did their peers in many other American cities, Garden District residents embraced the Italianate style. However, most other cities lack the lush vegetation that complements the Carroll-Crawford House (1315 First Street) and the Garden District's other Italianate homes.

After spending some time at the Garden District Book Shop, I strolled down to Magazine Street, which is one of the city's prime retail areas. Most of the shops along Magazine are locally owned, giving the area a distinctive flavor that many other cities and the Canal Street area of New Orleans lack. I took a bus to the 5700 block, which is home to a couple of shops I wanted to visit, but before I went shopping I opted to spend a few minutes exploring the streets adjacent to Magazine.

I'm not sure about the name of the neighborhood that surrounds the 5700 block of Magazine -- as far as I can tell, it's called Audubon in honor of the adjacent Audubon Park -- but it obviously caters to the students and faculty at nearby Loyola and Tulane universities. Hip boutiques abound, college kids are on the buses, and the neighborhood is home to the city's only Whole Foods store (yes, I bought some stuff there). However, architecturally, the neighborhood is far more representative of New Orleans than the Garden District.

The streets just off Magazine are home to lots of shotgun homes, so named because they consist of three to five rooms that connect directly to one another and have doors at each end; the old saying is that if one stood in one doorway and fired a shotgun into the house, the pellets would fly unimpeded through the house and exit through the other door. Shotgun houses facilitate the circulation of air -- a necessity in New Orleans prior to the introduction of air conditioning.

There are also plenty of double shotgun homes, which were built as two-family houses. Given the apparent demographics of the neighborhood, I suspect that some of these homes have been converted to single-family dwellings.

Raised center hall cottages, which modestly echo the grand French plantation homes and center hall villas of the Garden District, are also common.