Tricentennial Reading List (New Orleans Streets) with Sally Asher (Part 2)
Susan: People take to the streets and they really feel they own them. These are our streets. I love books that celebrate that relationship. I think one of them is New Orleans Streets: A Walker's Guide to Neighborhood Architecture. That's Stephanie Bruno's block by block, look at parts of the city. Then, there's Cityscapes [of New Orleans] by Richard Campanella.
Sally: Campanella is just a walking encyclopedia. I've done panels with him and when you do the Q & A at the end and somebody will ask a very obscure question and it's like this filing cabinet his brain opens up-
Susan: It's true.
Sally: - and I'm in awe. One of my favorite essays that he wrote, which was shortly after the Saint's Super Bowl victory, was using New Orleans as a metaphor and how previously a lot of politicians, government officials, et cetera, were trying to define New Orleans as a tragedy, a sinkhole, a money-pit essentially and it was New Orleaneans who turned it on his head and started using New Orleans as a metaphor for culture and joy and individuality and creativity.
Campanella's research is always so interesting because he will take maps or take geography and take data that you don't think about or don't consider and put it into a way that makes you view things from a different light. That's always been one of my favorite treats of his. He took Judith Schafer, who was one of my favorite historians, who wrote a lot about-- She wrote all about the brothels and prostitutes, pre- Storyville, mostly in Antebellum era. He took and mapped the different, say, sex crimes that were done and created maps of different areas of high-profile brothels and explain why these were important and why these were here and what that meant.
Susan: One other book that's gotten its own biography is The Incomparable Magazine Street by John Magill with Margot Landen's photos.
Sally: John Magill, he's such an excellent historian and was such an asset to the Historic New Orleans collection. I know he basically wrote about when the streetcars were taken off Magazine Street. These are just little things you don't think about. That's when everything changed. It became this great walking venue. It's not been taken over by chains and it's local shop owners and it's wonderful.
Susan: One of the things about our streets that cracks me up is the way they appear in fiction. It's always- their impossible intersections. My friend Diana Pinckley and I used to keep a list of impossible intersections in fiction, that people had just created a whole cloth and it just-- [laughs] We love our names, we do and we love our neighborhoods too. You've brought along a book that celebrates neighborhoods in New Orleans as well.
Sally: Yes, it's New Orleans Neighborhoods by Maggy Baccinelli. It's just this wonderful, very beautiful tribute to the different neighborhoods. She spent a lot of time researching. There's a lot of individual interviews in there with families who have been on these neighborhoods for generations. Speaking of Campanella again, who will argue what the 73 neighborhoods mean, do they actually exist? What are these boundaries? People get very passionate about where they live, what their neighborhood is and do and don't sometimes go with the city guidelines.
Maggy does a wonderful job of explaining, why it's important, where its legacy came from, where its heritage are from, what makes it unique and special. Of course, every neighborhood in New Orleans is unique and special.
Susan: Lot of love stories in that book.
Susan: We've been talking with Sally Asher, the author of Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names, about books, about New Orleans streets for The Reading Life's Tricentennial Reading List. Sally, thanks so much.
Sally: Thank you.