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The Best Balconies of New Orleans

September 02, 2020

Inspired by the new show, Selling the Big Easy, we're sharing the visuals and the histories of New Orleans' best balconies.

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There’s no better way to armchair travel to sunny New Orleans than sitting down to watch Selling the Big Easy. Real estate maverick Brittany Picolo-Ramos (pictured here) and her crew take eager clients on adventures to find a dream home in the Crescent City. Don't miss the series premiere episodes on Friday, September 11 at 9|8c and 9:30|8:30c.

In the meantime, we wanted to highlight the visuals and the histories of the city's best balconies. The balconies of New Orleans are revered; for their history, both in creation and in the moments they’ve witnessed. They have a timeless splendor and add infinitely to the city’s charm. From electric-green ferns to tiny Fleur-de-lis inscribed in shiny black ironwork, from bougainvillea trailing hot pink down the sides to oxidized iron, wearing a gorgeous green patina — they wear every color in the crayon box.

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Photo: Jenny Adams

Know the Lingo

Do you know the difference between a “gallery” and a “balcony” in New Orleans? A balcony has no supports, while a gallery is deeper, and must be supported by posts or columns. All galleries are balconies, but not all balconies are galleries. Here’s a great example of a classic gallery construction.

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Photo: Jenny Adams

Imitation Is a Sincere Form of Flattery

Many of the examples of elaborate iron work were created (by hand) to mimic Spanish architecture. They also visually mimic one other product coveted in the mid 1800s — expensive, Spanish lace. You’ll notice a similar pattern in the feminine filigree of the iron. This balcony on St. Philip Street, between Dauphine and Royal Streets, dates to 1850.

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Photo: Jenny Adams

The Vampire House

1041 Royal Street is one of the most picturesque balconies in all of the French Quarter, with its lush ferns dangling from a wrap-around, wrought iron gallery that sits above 16-foot windows. It’s also home to local lore. The 5,000-square-foot residence — constructed in 1884­­ and designed by E. Surgi­­­­­­ — was purchased in the late 20th century by a wealthy bon vivant named Jacques St. Germaine.

St. Germaine became famous for throwing lavish parties, until one night, a woman jumped from the balcony. She survived, but at the hospital, she told the police that St. Germaine was a vampire, who tried to bite her. The police went to question St. Germaine, but he had disappeared into the night, never to be seen again. Today, it is privately owned, and is featured on many ghost tours.

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