Some people never leave - New Orleans won't let them go. They come for Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, or a Louis & Lestat Vampire Tour, and by the time they are supposed to be boarding a plane for home, they're on a streetcar instead looking through the classifieds for jobs and apartments. You can't really blame them though, because this city is a temptress that knows exactly how to capture hearts. The French Quarter has wrought-iron balconies, home-spun jazz, Creole culture, unbelievable food, ancient oaks draped with Spanish moss, the Mississippi River, wild nightclubs, and gourmet bistros. All this and much more make this city an alluring paradox of ancient and modern, elegance and decadence, that irrevocably transforms some people into what locals call the "Never Lefts," and makes an unforgettable impression everyone, even if they go home.

The altogether different and decidedly "un-American" personality of New Orleans evolved largely due to its geography. Essentially an "inland island," it is squeezed between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, surrounded on all sides by a giant oak-cypress swamp. Isolation and insulation from the mainland for almost 250 years enabled the city to resist "cookie-cutter" modernization and develop its own culture with jazz, Creole cuisine, above-ground burial sites ("Cities of the Dead"), and rites of passage like the famous jazz funerals. Charles Dudley Warner wrote, "New Orleans is either the most cosmopolitan of all provincial cities…or the most provincial of all cosmopolitan cities." It's really both. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
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