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French Market Review
The sounds, colors, and smells here are alluring: street performers, ships' horns on the river, pralines, muffulettas, sugarcane, and Creole tomatoes. Originally a Native American trading post, later a bustling open-air market under the French and Spanish, the French Market historically began at Café du Monde and stretched along Decatur and North Peters streets all the way to the downtown edge of the Quarter. Today the market's graceful arcades have been mostly enclosed and filled with shops and eateries, and the fresh market has been pushed several blocks downriver, under sheds built in the 1930s as part of a Works Progress Administration project. This area of the French Market, which begins at Ursulines Street and contains a large flea market as well as a farmers' market area and its own praline and food stands, was slated for major renovation even before Katrina tore away its awnings and the 2005 hurricane season devastated the farming communities that provided its produce. Renovations were completed in 2009, and today, the French Market is a great place to shop for cheap souvenirs, sunglasses, or beads; it's also home to an expanded farmers' market.
Latrobe Park, a small recreational area at the uptown end of the French Market, honors Benjamin Latrobe, designer of the city's first waterworks. A modern fountain evoking a waterworks marks the spot where Latrobe's steam-powered pumps once stood. Sunken seating, fountains, and greenery make this a lovely place to relax with a drink from one of the nearby kiosks.
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