"Studying chambers of commerce, politicians, preservationists and their opponents, novelists, teachers, and the tourists themselves, Stanonis details the surprisingly complex efforts behind marketing New Orleans as a city with an exotic past. The places and events—the Vieux Carre, the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras, jazz—may be familiar, but the controversies over how or whether they should be tourist attractions are consistently fascinating."
—Ted Ownby, University of Mississippi
"[I]nsightful and significant historical detail . . . Stanonis offers a compelling portrait of the rise of tourism in New Orleans and adds unique insight to our understanding of the city's distinctive history. The book is a thought-provoking and penetrating analysis of the early development of tourism in New Orleans and should be the starting point for historians interested in understanding the city's cultural and economic structure between the two World Wars."
"A thorough and insightful historical examination of city leaders' efforts to lay the foundation for the city's modern tourist economy."
—Journal of Southern History
"Stanonis has contributed an invaluable foray into the origins of the contemporary New Orleans economy."
"Stanonis's monograph contributes substantially to the growing field of tourism studies. . . . He maintains an intricate balance as he moves between the city's business advocates and preservationists, cultural defenders and critics, and politicians and outside observers. . . . His facility with period literary sources offers insight throughout."
—Reviews in American History
Stanonis looks at the importance of urban development, historic preservation, taxation strategies, and convention marketing to New Orleans' makeover and chronicles the city's efforts to domesticate its jazz scene, "democratize" Mardi Gras, and stereotype local blacks into docile, servile roles. He also looks at depictions of the city in literature and film and gauges the impact on New Orleans of white middle-class America's growing prosperity, mobility, leisure time, and tolerance of women in public spaces once considered off-limits.
Visitors go to New Orleans with expectations rooted in the city's "past": to revel with Mardi Gras maskers, soak up the romance of the French Quarter, and indulge in rich cuisine and hot music. Such a past has a basis in history, says Stanonis, but it has been carefully excised from its gritty context and scrubbed clean for mass consumption.
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