POSTED Thu. Nov 7, 2013
Walking in New Orleans: easier than you think
Adam Karlin
Written by ADAM KARLIN
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So: walkscore.com came out with its list of the most walkable cities in the country. You can read all about the grading criteria on their site, but essentially, the metric is based on your ability to leave the house, run errands and essentially live a life without ever having to get into a car. There’s plenty of research out there that links walkability to quality of life.

New York scored the highest on the walk score site, with an 88 out of 100 – unsurprising, given NYC’s relative compactness and extensive bus and subway network (public transportation is a major component of a walk score). New Orleans, on the other hand, scored a 56 – disappointing but to be expected given our lack of public transportation and the sprawl of areas like New Orleans East.

With that said, we’d argue that for visitors New Orleans remains one of the country’s most walkable cities. Our tourism core has a walk score that rivals downtown Manhattan; the site rates neighborhoods as well as cities, and the French Quarter, CBD and Marigny all have walk scores above 90, making them ‘walkers’ paradises.’ Immediately behind these top three are Touro, the Garden District and East Riverside, all on the other side of Canal.

While New Orleans & Me always encourages travelers to explore all of the nooks and crannies of Greater New Orleans, we’re also aware that even dedicated visitors tend to venture as far uptown as Audubon Park – maybe up to Carrollton – and as far downriver as the Bywater, with possible detours to City Park. In other words, tourists tend to stick to the the sliver by the river . We’re not saying this is a good thing – it simply is.

If we measure New Orleans’ walkability by ‘sliver’ neighborhoods, the lowest score is in Black Pearl, with a walk score of 69. Most areas have a walk score above 80, and even Black Pearl has a bike score – because walkscore.com measures bikeability as well as walkability – of 94. The historical, pre-20th century core of New Orleans, which includes all of the sliver, was built to pre-car scale, and as a result the city’s older neighborhoods are supremely bikeable (potholes aside) and often enough, pretty walkable.

To add a further caveat to the above, while adventurous tourists tend to explore the sliver, most visitors stick to the CBD and Quarter – the two neighborhoods with the highest walk scores in the city. So it’s unsurprising tourists walk away from here with the impression that New Orleans is extremely pedestrian friendly, despite the abysmal walk score in areas like English Turn (12) and Lake Catherine (2).

It’s also worth pointing out walkscore.com gives an 88 ranking to Iberville, a now largely depopulated area that is still technically within easy walking distance of the Quarter, Treme and CBD. To be fair, there are three great destinations in Iberville: St Louis cemeteries No. 1 and 2, and Basin Street Station. But beyond said spots, this isn’t exactly a neighborhood of shops, cafes and pedestrian thoroughfares.

The point is you don’t need a car to explore this town. While New Orleanians make a big deal about the distance between neighborhoods, especially when Canal Street is involved, it really doesn’t take long to get most places sans auto. I once went on foot from Esplanade Ave to Calliope. Total walking time was 32 minutes. On bike you can cut that to 10. And if you’re in a real pinch, you can always call a cab. New Orleans is a slow city, and much of her charm is best appreciated at a slow pace, so lace up those boots – or really, slip on some sandals – and enjoy us au pied.

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    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.

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    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at WWNO.org.

    WWOZ

    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.

    PRC

    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.

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    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

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    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.

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