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The famous sign of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

Bourbon Street (French: Rue Bourbon) is a famous and historic street that spans the length of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. When founded in 1718, the city was originally centered around the French Quarter.[1] New Orleans has since expanded, but "The Quarter" remains the cultural hub, and Bourbon Street is the street best known by visitors.

The most popular section of Bourbon Street is "Upper Bourbon Street", an eight-block section of popular tourist attractions. Bourbon Street begins at Canal Street (across Canal is Carondelet Street in the New Orleans Central Business District). The straight street continues downriver, southwest to northeast a few blocks from and roughly paralleling the Mississippi River, and comes to its terminus at Pauger Street in the Faubourg Marigny. (In the 19th century, Pauger was named as a continuation of Bourbon Street.) Bourbon Street was named in honor of the House of Bourbon, the ruling French Royal Family, at the time of the city's founding.

The street is home to many bars, restaurants, strip clubs, as well as t-shirt and souvenir shops. The upper end of Bourbon Street towards Canal Street is home to many of the French Quarter's strip clubs. These include Rick's Cabaret, Temptations, and Larry Flynt's Barely Legal Club. Towards the central section of Bourbon Street one can find many famous bars including Johnny White's, The Famous Door, Razzoo and The Cat's Meow.

The section of Bourbon Street from the intersection of St. Ann Street proceeding several blocks northeast caters to New Orleans' thriving gay community, featuring such clubs as New Orleans' largest gay nightclub, The Bourbon Pub, and Oz. St. Ann Street has been referred to as "the Velvet Line"[citation needed], in reference to it being the edge or boundary line of the gay community in the French Quarter. Cafe-Lafitte-In-Exile is the oldest gay bar in the country and has a long and interesting history. New Orleans' most celebrated Mardi Gras event, The Bourbon Street Awards, was hosted by Lafitte's until the early 1980s when massive crowds forced them to move from Bourbon Street to St. Ann and Burgundy. The awards have now returned to the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann Streets. The intersection of Bourbon Street and St. Ann Street is also the epicenter of Southern Decadence, commonly referred to as the "Gay Mardi Gras" and attracts upwards of 100,000 participants over Labor Day weekend. [2]

BourbonStreet.jpg

From Dumaine Street to Pauger, Bourbon Street is largely residential with scattered businesses still catering to locals. Also on this stretch of Bourbon exists Jean Laffite's Blacksmith Shop, which is a very popular bar, showing the style of the original French buildings (before the Spanish iron balconies) which burned in the first Great New Orleans Fire (1788).

Though largely quiet during the day, Bourbon Street comes alive at night, particularly during the French Quarter's many festivals. Most popular among these is the annual Mardi Gras celebration, when Bourbon Street teems with hundreds of thousands of tourists. Local open container laws in the French Quarter allow drinking alcoholic beverages in the street in plastic containers (drinking from glass or cans is prohibited). The streets are packed with tourists drinking Hurricanes, Hand Grenades and Huge Ass Beers - a large plastic cup of draft beer marketed to tourists at a low price. Other festivals and events focusing on Bourbon Street include French Quarter Festival and Southern Decadence.

One of the oldest and most popular restaurants on Bourbon Street is Galatoire's, which was founded in 1905. Known for years by its characteristic line snaking down Bourbon Street, patrons would wait for hours just to get a table — especially on Fridays.[3]

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