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Jackson Square

Jackson_Square_New_Orleans-300x224Jackson Square, is a historic park in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. In 2012 the American Planning Association designated Jackson Square as a one of America’s Great Public Spaces.

Live music is a regular feature of the square. Occasional formal concerts are held here, but for a century or more musicians playing for tips have set up in the square. Nearby residents sometimes try to get them removed, which never continues for long.
On the other two sides of the square are the Pontalba Buildings, matching red-brick, block-long 4‑story buildings built in the 1840s. The ground floors house shops and restaurants; the upper floors are apartments; they are the oldest continuously rented apartments in North America.

Diagonally across Decatur Street upriver from Jackson Square is the Jax Brewery building, the original home of a favorite local beer. After the company ceased to operate independently, the building was converted into several businesses, including restaurants and specialty shops. In recent years, some retail space has been converted into luxury condominiums. Diagonally across Decatur Street downriver from the square is Café du Monde, open 24 hours a day. It is known for its café au lait, prepared with chicory, and beignets, served there continuously since the 19th century.

Because Jackson Square has been the center of life for many centuries, it is no wonder that many of the city’s tarot readers congregate here to offer their services. A city filled with religious diversity and historic charm makes Jackson Square a significant environment to boast its culture. By the 1920s, the Square was a haven for artists from professionals to students. The 1960s and 1970s saw the beginnings of the Square as a place of business for pagans and New Age devotees telling fortunes and reading palms and tarot cards. One of the most influential early tarot readers was Jerik Danerson. Born in California in 1946, Jerik developed a strong early interest in ancient religions, particularly the Norse traditions. He became immersed in modern paganism in the 1960s and made his way to New Orleans. Setting up a tarot and palm-reading stand in Jackson Square, Jerik went on to found a new path of Wicca known as Southshire, which in turn influenced countless additional paths.

The square has been the site of hundreds of live music events, including the September 9, 2010 Dave Matthews Band and Taylor Swift performance for the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints 2010 NFL Season kickoff. Every year, the square hosts the French Quarter Festival and Christmas Caroling in Jackson Square.