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New Orleans Summer Features from the Historic New Orleans Collection |

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Life in New Orleans is never easy, with months of intense heat and the threat of hurricanes during the summer months. But for more than three centuries, its inhabitants have found ways not only to survive, but to thrive throughout the seasons. For some, it means getting out of avoidance. For others, it’s all about cooling down by any means necessary, including a 30-minute snowball line.

flee north

In a report from New Orleans published in Harper’s New magazine in 1892, Julian Ralph wrote, “Though a winter resort, New Orleans is eminently a summer town. Its galleries, gardens, A city of flowers and shops wide open in the streets,” writes Julian Ralph. Monthly magazine. Modern residents may scoff at calling New Orleans a “summer town,” but Ralph describes the Caribbean as influencing architecture that tolerates the summer heat. but only slightly. Anyone who can afford to do so leaves town, he writes. Wealthy Creoles tend to go to France, and there are many who divide their years that way. “

Snow and ice beat the heat

In this photo by Harold Baquet, a boy eats an ice cream cone in the courtyard of a late 1980s Desire housing project. (T

New York has the Mr. Softie Track, while New Orleans has the Snowball Stand. When it’s hot, New Orleans groups line loosely in front of matchbox-sized storefronts waiting for sweet, cold drinks piled high and topped with brightly colored syrups. can see Entire books have been written about the fun of snowballing (or “snowballing” or “snowballing”) in New Orleans, including Megan Braden-Perry’s Crescent City Snow: The Ultimate Guide to New Orleans Snowball Stands. I’m here. At their preferred neighborhood spot, but others are known to play snowball bingo, trying to hit as many of the various stands around town as possible.

east beach

Lincoln Beach

The Lincoln Beach Press photo was taken in 1955, shortly after it opened in 1954. (THNOC, Donated by Anonymous Donor, 2022.0016.2)

Lincoln Beach was Jim Crow’s answer to Pontchartrain Beach, a lakeside amusement park open to whites only during quarantine. In 1954, the city opened Lincoln Beach on 17 lakefront acres in eastern New Orleans. Its comforts and amusements pale in comparison to the larger and more luxurious Pontchartrain Beach, but writer James Cullen, according to Antigravity Magazine’s history of the site, “has two swimming pools … public baths, restaurants and rides. and attractions were still there. For over a decade, it’s been giving people of color in the city a place to cool off in the summer. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, demand plummeted as African Americans were finally allowed into Pontchartrain Beach. Lincoln Beach closed a year after him.

submerged city

Street flooding has been a part of life in New Orleans since it began. Especially in the summer, storms find ways to put a pause on daily life, despite the city’s well-developed dikes and drainage systems. Residents are familiar with the ritual of moving cars to higher ground before heavy rains.

A woman and child hold onto an “emergency exit only” sign surrounded by water in a flooded K&B drugstore parking lot.

In May 1978, in a K&B parking lot, cars were seen crowding beside the drug store to avoid rainwater, and women and children waited on a sign to flood. (THNOC, photo by Luis Castrillo, 1985.143.1)

For children and young people at heart, flooding the roads offers an opportunity to escape from the mundane. One of the constant features of summer storms is local news footage and photos of people making the most of it, going down the block in kayaks, canoes and inner tubes.

decadent end of summer

Labor Day weekend usually officially marks the end of summer here in the United States, but in New Orleans, the true pinnacle of the season is Southern Decadence. This is his annual LGBTQ+ Pride weekend, with lots of partying and the hottest, sweatiest parade of the year. The official history of this event follows. … all young, most either in college or recent graduates, I counted men and women, black and white, gay and straight. “

As one of the decadents left town to return to Chicago and lamented the lack of entertainment on vacation weekends, the group held a farewell party “marked by spike punches and extensive drug use, particularly marijuana and LSD.” opened. (It was the ’70s, after all.) The following year, the group began a tradition of parading on the Sunday before Labor Day, quickly adopting the New Orleans custom of assigning a Grand Marshal to lead the procession. .

Fifty years later, Southern Decadence is a New Orleans institution and a mainstay of the tourism economy, attracting and entertaining thousands of visitors to the city.

Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from a First Draft blog post for The Historic New Orleans Collection. For more information, please visit