Photography and Text by Emily Cheng, Copyright 2018
“America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” – Tennessee Williams
If there’s one word that describes New Orleans, it’s vibrant. The iridescent gleam of beads hanging from the trees in the aftermath of Mardi Gras. The flavor of cajun crawfish in your mouth, spiced with the fragrance of oranges. The boisterous chatter of bar hoppers, lasting deep into the night. The diverse melange of cultures, but also the Southern charm that makes you feel at home.
Of course, nothing exemplifies New Orleans vibrance quite like Bourbon Street. In the daytime, the street is packed to the brim with buskers and tourists, the air heavy with sounds of drums and camera shutters clicking. But come nighttime, the street really comes to life. Resplendent with neon signs lighting every bar from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue, Bourbon Street becomes a beacon of light that draws every soul in the city in search of a good time. Jazz and dance music intermingle, and the street is slick with remnants of margaritas. Diners at the white tablecloth Galatoires feast on shrimp remoulade, parallel to spring breakers downing jello shots at the dive bar next door. All with the glow of neon shining above.
This series highlights the neon signage that brings New Orleans and Bourbon Street to life. Coming from Hong Kong, where old-school neon signage is an iconic but slowing dying art, seeing this was a fond reminder of home. It’s also a reminder to me that no matter the differences between cultures, parallels can be found everywhere.
I am in awe of New Orleans’ eternal vibrance, the intensity and fervor that propelled this city to the top of New York Times’ 52 Places to Visit, only 13 years after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. I hope that this sentiment shines through in my photographs.
About The Author: Wing Hei Emily Cheng is a Senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018. To access additional articles by Ms. Cheng, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/emily-cheng-objects-of-desire/