25 Beautiful Vintage Pictures Of New Orleans’ Vibrant Culture

“I’m not sure, but I’m almost positive, that all music came from New Orleans.” — Ernie K-Doe

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Crowds of people cheer along a float celebrating the life of John James Audubon, an American naturalist and artist, during the 1956 Mardi Gras celebrations.

Three Lions / Getty Images

Three Lions / Getty Images

 

A group dressed as characters from “The Wizard of Oz” (left) and another dressed in sunflower costumes take part in the 1955 Mardi Gras parade.

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A Second line parade makes its way through town in 1966. These jubilant block parties are held in New Orleans throughout the year and are a staple of the city’s vibrant musical culture.

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Mahalia Jackson, the “Queen of the Gospel Singers,” sings an impromptu song to the beat of the Eureka Brass Band at the New Orleans Jazz Festival in 1970.

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A Jazz musician named Joe Anderson sings a tune with a blanket on his head, at a New Orleans night club in 1947 (left). Jazz trumpeter George Girard is seen performing at the Famous Door bar on Bourbon St. in 1955 (right). After 82 years in business, the Famous Door is still operating today.

Jerry Cooke / The LIFE Images Collection / Getty

People dance along to a jazz band being led by musician George Lewis, 1946.

AP Photo

Born August 4th, 1901, in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong is one of the most important Jazz musicians and entertainers of the 20th Century. Here, he is returning to his hometown in 1965 for the first time in more than a decade.

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A couple peer into the entrance of the Famous Door bar during a night stroll in 1955 (left). Inside a New Orleans bar, a woman entertains the patrons with a strip tease on the bar counter, 1947 (right).

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Renowned photographer Arthur ‘Weegee’ Fellig photographs intoxicated men held by the police in a New Orleans ‘drunk tank’, circa 1945 — one of the flip sides of the lively New Orleans night life.

Three Lions / Getty Images

Three Lions / Getty Images

 

Known by her stage name “Kalantan”, a showgirl performs at the 500 Club in 1955 (left). To the right, showgirl Thana Barclay prepares for the Mardi Gras masquerade in the Latin Quarter with Lou Stoner of the musical group, the Radio Aces (right).

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The St. Louis Cathedral can be seen through an iron lace-worked balcony in the French Quarter, 1945.

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A jazz funeral procession for a deceased musician makes its way down the street in 1965. Traditionally, the marching band plays slow dirges on the journey to the cemetery and upbeat melodies on the way back.

Jim Bourdier / ASSOCIATED PRESS

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A typical scene amid the intricate iron work balconies of the French Quarter in June, 1962 (left). Jazz trumpeter Ernest ‘Punch’ Miller rests in the New Orleans shade with his instrument in hand, 1962 (right).

AP Photo

AP Photo

 

An artist sketches St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, 1960 (left). A New Orleans marching band performs in the street during a carnival pageant in 1940 (right).

Jim Bourdier / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Musicians from the Preservation Hall entertain jazz fans in the French Quarter during Spring 1964. Paintings of past musicians decorate the hall, which was an art gallery until Allan Jaffe of Pennsylvania revived the original jazz club in 1961 to help preserve the culture of New Orleans Jazz.

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Jazz musician “Papa Jack” Laine is seen working in his cacti filled garden on a sunny New Orleans day, 1950.

AP Photo

AP Photo

 

While Bourbon Street in 1960 remains relatively quiet during the day, at night it’s a bustling nightlife scene (left). Retail vegetable markets line the Decatur Street side of the French Market in 1960 (right).

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The traditional King Zulu, front and center, is preceded by a jazz band and flag bearers during Mardi Gras celebration in 1960. Each year, this parade follows an uncertain route winding through the city and gathering a large crowd of watchers and followers. The most famous King Zulu was Louis Armstrong, who reigned in 1949.

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