City Geography

“Arrive at New Orleans, a city of ships, steamers, flatboats, rafts, mud, fog, filth, stench, and a mixture of races and tongues. Cholera, “some.” [At] Planters’ Hotel. Mem: — Never get caught in a cheap tavern in a strange city."
—President Rutherford B. Hayes, diary entry December 21, 1848

“This is where the wild dogs are
This is where the fire bombs fall
Infant angels burn the universe
Hellbent on blood suck each other.”

—James Hall, “Trouble in Paradise”

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The city of New Orleans lies at the heart of Orleans Parish, one of Louisiana’s county-equivalent 64 theopolitical districts. The city proper lies at the same latitude as Cairo, Egypt (30 degrees north of the equator), occupying the east bank of the Mississippi River about 90 river miles above the Gulf of Mexico. It was given its nickname the “Crescent City” for the way the city splays out around the edge of the land. New Orleans sits at the southern end of the broad Mississippi flood-plain, bordered by Lake Pontchartrain to the north and bisected to the south by the river. It occupies roughly seven miles by eight miles in area, and sits at the nexus of Routes I-10 and I-610.

The entire region was a swamp when the first colonists arrived, and were it not for the ingenuity (and determination) of man and his technology, it would look much the same tonight as it did back then. The average elevation is two feet below sea level (which is why most corpses must be entombed above ground), with the most elevated areas, formed over time due to the flooding of the Mississippi, resting near the city’s many levees. These levees, surrounding the city for a total of over 130 miles, act as the informal, crescent-shaped boundary to the south. The city itself is slowly but steadily sinking due to the power of the river, the looseness of the region’s soil and the height of the local water table. Erosion cuts away nearly 40 square miles of coastal march annually, advancing the gulf northward at a rate of one half-mile per year.

The Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area actually includes seven other parishes besides Orleans Parish, including such communities as Metairie, Kenner, and Slidell. These areas are considered suburbs of New Orleans for geographic and economic purposes, but many are no more beholden to the city than, say, some Maryland or Northern Virginia towns are to the nation’s capitol. When censuses are taken and statistics compiled, the results are usually rendered relative to the Greater Metro Area, rather than to the city limits proper. While the entirety of the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area is considered part of Prince Vidal’s domain, the bulk of the region’s Kindred reside in Orleans Parish, and it is this area with which most are understandably concerned.

Internally, the citizens of New Orleans seem to have made a conscious effort to avoid giving their neighborhoods definite boundaries. Neighborhood characteristics can change within a few blocks. Antique colonial estates can give way to modern hotels and traffic-jammed roads; bayous can change to open waterways; a brightly lit, screaming boulevard lined with bars can, with little warning, turn into a peaceful, quiet residential area. Thus is the seemingly limitless diversity of New Orleans laid out for those who visit.

An in-depth map of New Orleans’ regencies and sites of interest may be viewed over Google Maps.

Kindred refer to regencies in Louisiana as parishes. This is distinct from its use by mortals, who also refer to Louisiana’s county-equivalent areas as parishes.

Algiers

Pic.jpg A suburb across the Mississippi from New Orleans proper; one of the poorest and highest-crime areas of the city. Feeding is relatively scarce. With travel only possible by bridge or boat, the parish’s geographical divide from New Orleans means few vampires ever go here.
Regent: None
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Vidal) by default.
 

The Arts District

Pic.jpg A former warehouse district renovated in the 1970s, noted for its art galleries, museums, restaurants, and high-rise condos.
Regent: Philip Maldonato (gen. and clan unknown, e. centuries ago)
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Vidal)
 
 

Bayou St. John

Pic.jpg The oldest and first-settled area of New Orleans, forbidden to Kindred. For reasons unknown, Vidal has banished or executed every vampire his agents have caught within the area.
Regent: None
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Vidal)
 

Bywater

Pic.jpg A quiet residential middle-class neighborhood, awkwardly sandwiched between the revelry of the French Quarter and the poverty of the Ninth Ward.
Regent: Gus “Gutterball” Elgin (10th gen. Nosferatu, e. mid 19th century)
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Vidal)
 
 

The Central Business District

Pic.jpg The city’s skyscraper-lined downtown hub, home to its largest corporate and financial institutions. Considered the most “American” area of the city, with a character similar to most other urban downtowns, and the seat of Price Vidal’s and Clan Ventrue’s power.
Regent: Philip Maldonato (gen. and clan unknown, e. centuries ago)
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Vidal)
 

Central City

Pic.jpg Inner-city African-American neighborhood; also one of the poorest and highest-crime areas of the city. Police-related violence on the border with the Garden District is frequent.
Regent: None
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Vidal)
 
 

Esplanade Ridge

Pic.jpg A residential concourse whose regent was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, and has since drawn a small number of solitude-preferring Kindred.
Regent: None
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Vidal)
 
 

Faubourg Marigny

Pic.jpg Nightclub-lined LGBT district with excellent feeding. Declared neutral ground in the city’s conflicts by its independent-minded regent Sundown, and often used as a meeting place between rival factions.
Regent: Sundown (11th gen. Nosferatu, e. early 20th century)
Faction: None
 

The French Quarter

Pic.jpg The jewel in the crown of the Big Easy, world-famous for its vibrant nightlife, and a mecca of museums, art galleries, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and historic sites. The area’s rich cultural heritage, high crime, and the incredible ease of feeding makes it the single most desirous area of the city to New Orleans’ Kindred. It is Antoine Savoy’s domain over the parish that has truly allowed him to challenge Vidal for the princedom. In a city whose Kindred population is already grossly overpopulated, the French Quarter is packed to bursting with vampires (many Caitiff, thin-bloods, and other “dregs”) whose impulses Antoine Savoy shows little inclination to rein in. Talk of Setite and Giovannini infiltration further adds to the parish’s unsavory reputation, but in a city otherwise choking under the grip of Vidal’s iron fist, few vampires find the Quarter’s libertine “do what thou wilt” attitude to be anything besides a breath of fresh air. Feeding territory along the coveted Bourbon Street and other choice areas, however, remains carefully doled out.
Regent: Antoine Savoy (7th gen. Toreador, e. 17th century) Savoy’s claim is de facto rather than de jure, as Vidal has refused to recognize his claim over the parish as legitimate. Savoy has adopted the title of “lord of the French Quarter” instead of regent. His supporters and many neutral Kindred refer to him by this title, while his opponents do not.
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Savoy)

The Garden District

Pic.jpg Residential neighborhood noted for its lush gardens and historic multi-million-dollar homes; inhabited by many of the city’s oldest and richest families. Magazine Street, to the north, offers a shopping and dining concourse. Nicknamed “Elderville” among the Kindred for the number of elders (primarily Ventrue) who maintain havens there, and claimed by Prince Vidal as his personal territory.
Regent: Augusto Vidal (6th gen. Ventrue, e. centuries ago)
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Vidal)

The Lower Garden District

Pic.jpg The less modern sibling of the upper Garden District; once equally rich and equally elegant, but now a place of fading glories increasingly displaced by its northern neighbor. Nicknamed “Elderville” among the Kindred for the number of elders (primarily Toreador) who maintain havens there. Its equally antiquated regent Pearl Chastain is fiercely protective of the district’s historic character.
Regent: Pearl Chastain (6th gen. Toreador, e. centuries ago)
Faction: Invictus

Lakeview

Pic.jpg Affluent suburban neighborhood named for its view of Lake Pontchartrain. One of the worst-flooded areas of the city during Katrina, and one of the most quickly rebuilt.
Regent: None
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Vidal)
 
 

Mid-City

Pic.jpg Densely populated working-class neighborhood and cultural melting pot in the heart of the city. Claimed as turf by the local Anarchs, who boast that rule is decided by democratic vote rather than a regent’s autocratic whims. Since the recent factional split over the Matheson debacle, roughly half the Anarchs have departed for the French Quarter.
Regents: Coco Duquette (8th gen. Brujah, e. late 18th century) and Miss Opal (8th gen. Nosferatu, e. mid 18th century) Although Vidal recognizes Opal and Duquette as the parish’s regents, they have ceded most of their formal power to the parish’s younger Kindred.
Faction: Anarch Movement

The Ninth Ward

Pic.jpg Poor and high-crime neighborhood, and one of the worst-devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Reconstruction efforts in the World of Darkness were notoriously inadequate, and to this day, much of the area looks like a post-apocalyptic ruin.
Regent: None, but in practice, no Kindred comes close to the influence exercised by Baron Cimitière (unknown-gen. Samedi, e. unknown)
Faction: Circle of the Crone

Riverbend

Pic.jpg University district home to the campuses of Tulane and Loyola University. It’s not the French Quarter, but the parish’s frat row is still considered good feeding. Also home to the exclusive Aubudon Place gated community, one of the richest neighborhoods in the city, Audubon Park, and assorted middle-class residential neighborhoods.
Regent: Donovan (8th gen. Toreador, e. late 19th century)
Faction: Lancea et Sanctum (Vidal)

The Seventh and Eighth Wards

Pic.jpg Working- to lower-class historic Creole neighborhoods sandwiched between Tremé and the French Quarter. Savoy’s and the Baron’s followers periodically clash with one another for control of the parish, and Vidal seems content to let his rivals fight it out.
Regent: None
Faction: Contested between Circle of the Crone and Lancea et Sanctum (Savoy)
 

Tremé

Pic.jpg Lower-class African-American neighborhood that was historically inhabited by freed people of color. It remains an important center of African-American and Creole culture and has produced numerous jazz musicians. Baron Cimitière holds his own small court here, and his Vodouisant followers have made the parish their stronghold since time out of mind.
Regent: Baron Cimitière (unknown-gen. Samedi, e. unknown)
Faction: Circle of the Crone

Uptown

Pic.jpg Affluent historic neighborhood primarily inhabited by upper-middle class professionals. Also includes part of St. Charles Avenue, the city’s millionaire’s row. The geographically large parish is increasingly becoming a nexus of Invictus influence thanks to its ambitious regent Pierpont McGinn as the Lower Garden continues to reminisce for nights gone by.
Regent: Pierpont McGinn (9th gen. Ventrue, e. late 19th century)
Faction: Invictus

Beyond the City

Pic.jpg Sites of interest throughout greater Louisiana. The sparsely-inhabited rural landscape is notoriously dangerous to Kindred; Loup-Garoux (Lupines) are only some of the things out there. A few stubborn vampires, nicknamed crawfish, somehow manage to eke out a hardscrabble existence.


Walkin’ to New Orleans


“Well I’ll be damned. Never heard of anyone trying to sneak into New Orleans before. Plenty of young Kindred try to get the hell out, though. Something about the spiritual climate, they tell me.”
—Father John Marrow, Sanctified priest

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While it may have been Fats Domino’ s preferred way of entering the city, traveling to Crescent City on foot is the least viable option for one of the Damned, save the occasional nomad familiar with the hazards of travel. Most Kindred prefer to travel to New Orleans by one of the more commonly accepted (not to mention efficient) means of travel.

Road Travel

Vampires almost always find road travel precarious, mostly because of the problems in finding a safe haven each day and feeding each night. The best-known, but not necessarily safest, route to take to New Orleans is 1-10. The highway runs from Florida to California, making its way directly through the center of New Orleans. Travel from the west is relatively safe, but coming into the city from the east takes one through Loup-Garoux territory.

Passage can be made if the characters are very careful, for the Lupines do not actively patrol the road. Trouble could arise, however, should the characters lose control of the car, run out of gas or have mechanical difficulties.

1-10 is also the fastest route into the French Quarter. This is the favorite gathering place of the New Orleans Kindred and the best place to obtain quick information about the city. Both 1-55 and 1-59 connect with 1-10 near New Orleans, and Kindred coming from the north can take these routes.

Coming to the city over land is a bit of an eye-opener even by car, as all freeway approaches to New Orleans travel over either lakes or bayous and are designated as hurricane evacuation routes out of the city. The country’s major eastwest corridor along the southern boundary, I-10, is the primary road of entry for most ground traffic going in or out of the Big Easy. For traffic that merely seeks to cross from one side of the city to the other, a local connector (I-610) provides a shortcut that escapes most of the downtown congestion. The other major east-west highway serving Crescent City is I-12, with I-55 (to Chicago) and I-59 (to Chattanooga) running north-south to and from the city.

Air Travel

The greater New Orleans area is served by one major airport, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). It is located 15 miles west of New Orleans’ downtown core in the neighborhood of Kenner. The airport is serviced by most major airlines and is controlled by the Kindred. In truth, about 98 percent of the flights that pass through are domestic, and most of the international flights only go back and forth between other North and Central American destinations. As an air travel hub, New Orleans is largely overshadowed by the larger, nearby hubs at Dallas-Fort Worth to the west and Atlanta to the east.

Private flight arrangements and smaller plane traffic are also served by the smaller New Orleans Lakefront Airfield, so named because it sits on the edge of Lake Ponchartrain to the northeast of the city proper. It is located 10 miles northwest of the city’s downtown.

Sea/River Travel

Many Kindred who make regular visits to New Orleans do so by water. Indeed, the city is almost entirely surrounded by water. Because New Orleans is one of the most active ports in the world, vampires have little difficulty finding a ship to fit their needs. Additionally, numerous small docks and wharves along the river can accommodate personal boats, as can several ferries and steamboats, which still carry passengers. Most Camarilla Kindred avoid the wharves near the Public Commodity Warehouses, however, because Setites are thought to be active there.

Last but not least is the Mississippi River, the source of much of the city’s economy and culture since the city’s foundation. Once the most common method of travel, the riverboat continues to bring both goods and people into and out of New Orleans. Costs are relatively high, however, and the era of steerage passage is well and truly over. River travel for individuals is now largely confined to the tourist trade, which offers riverboat excursions of every kind.

Rail Travel

Though not the fastest mode of travel, the railroad is one of the safer and more comfortable ways for Kindred to travel from place to place. Large crates can easily be stored in baggage cars, and the other train cars are fairly accessible. One can also rent a private car and travel in a bit more luxury. For many elder vampires, trains remain their preferred mode of long-distance travel over cars and planes.

Three major Amtrak lines run to New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal on Loyola Avenue. The “Crescent” runs daily between New York and New Orleans by way of Washington D.C. The “City of New Orleans’’ runs daily between Chicago and New Orleans. The “Sunset Limited” makes a two-day trip between Los Angeles and New Orleans.

For those who cannot afford or tolerate air travel, New Orleans is home to Union Passenger Terminal, located on Loyola Avenue in the Central Business District. Three different trains operate out of the sizeable downtown facility: The City of New Orleans train, which runs to Memphis, Jackson and Chicago; the Crescent Route, serving Atlanta, Birmingham, New York and Washington, DC; and the Sunset Limited Route, for which New Orleans is but a stop-off on its way from Los Angeles to Miami. Union Passenger Terminal is also home to the city’s Greyhound terminal.


Getting Around New Orleans


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Once someone has gotten to New Orleans, they need to know how to get around. The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) runs both the streetcars and the public buses. Information on schedules can be obtained by calling their offices or asking at almost any hotel.

Arrivals by Air

Air travel isn’t popular among the undead, but not unheard of. Air arrivals have the option of taking a shuttle from New Orleans International Airport to any location downtown. The cost is reasonable enough, especially as compared with similar shuttles from other American airports, that any vampire who can afford to travel from city to city by airplane should likely be able to afford it with ease. Once in the city proper, the standard host of options found in most major urban centers is available here as well.

Cars and Taxis

Most major car rental agencies can be found in New Orleans and rent for the standard rate. Cheaper rates, however, can be found by calling the lesser-known companies that operate in the area. Most car rental agencies can be found inside or close to New Orleans International Airport. Taxis are also common, though harder to find outside the Central Business District and adjacent areas. In recent years, the rideshare apps Ryde and Jaunt have become available within the city, and offer pricing comparable to cabs.

New Orleans allows cars to be driven nearly everywhere, but special care should be taken when driving in the French Quarter. Roads are all one-way and often lined with tourists, who run back and forth across the streets with little regard for the traffic. At sunset Bourbon Street is closed to traffic; large steel posts are set in holes at all entrances. At dawn the posts are removed and the street is reopened.

Buses

New Orleans has a sophisticated interconnecting bus system that runs throughout the city. The Easy Rider is a shuttle bus that runs around the Rivenvalk and Convention Center Complex. Connections can be made from it to other bus routes around the city. New Orleans is host to three bus services: The Regional Transit Authority, which handles most of the traffic to and from the airport to the French Quarter; Jefferson Transit, whose buses serve the airport and Metairie; and Westside Transit, which handles traffic across and on either side of the Greater New Orleans Bridge.

Streetcars

There are two major streetcar lines in the city. The first is the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar, which runs along a fivemile route down St. Charles Avenue between Canal Street and Carrollton Avenue, going through the Central Business District. Its cars run 24 hours a day, making stops every 10 minutes from 7 a.m. 8 p.m., every half hour from 8 p.m.. to midnight, and every hour from midnight 7 a.m. The other is the Riverfront Streetcar, which runs along a two-mile route down the Mississippi River from Esplanade Avenue to Julia Street. Two cars run 24 hours a day, passing each of the eight stops on the route every 15 minutes.

Thanks in small part to the efforts of some of the city’s older Kindred (including Pearl Chastain, if the rumor mill is running grit-free these nights), the streetcar has made a vibrant comeback in New Orleans. The city’s two older lines—the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line and the Riverfront streetcar line—were joined by a third in the early 2000s, the Canal Street line. The St. Charles was the nation’s second horse-drawn streetcar line, having seen its opening in 1835 under the name “The New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad” and was one of the first to adopt electric traction (in 1893). No streetcar line in New Orleans runs after midnight.

Ferries

Unlike many other urban centers, the Big Easy also offers more traditional means of getting around. As New Orleans is both a river and lake town, one always has the option of taking any one of the city’s three different daily ferry services. One makes a circuit from Canal Street to the west bank of the community of Algiers; another between Jackson Avenue and Gretna (another city suburb); and a third between Chalmette and lower Algiers. Only the Canal Street ferry runs until midnight; the others make their final stops before 9:30 p.m. Another even more charming method of transport in New Orleans (or at least in and around the Quarter) is the old-fashioned carriage ride. Most carriages are attached to a particular tour route, but one can always get on and off at any point along the way (at usually the same rate).


Fields of Life and Death


While every piece of dry ground within Vidal’s domain is subject to his laws, two specific types of locale—parks and cemeteries—stand apart from other areas of the Big Easy in several important ways.

First, in keeping with tradition, Vidal has decreed that burial sites may never be the personal domain of any vampire. The Damned may frequent the city’s necropoli to their dead hearts’ content, but no Kindred has ever held “feeding rights” to any graveyard. Furthermore, any vampire caught defacing or otherwise blaspheming the final resting place of a Christian will be dealt with as though he had committed a religious infraction. (Vidal is often quoted with the mantra, “God has ordained the Damned to prey upon the living, not the dead.”)

Vidal has also applied a similar type of discretionary exclusion to city parks: No vampire has “rights” to any public patch of greenery in his domain. Vampires are welcome to feed there, but the responsibility of maintaining the Masquerade (and of resolving any disputes that arise from two Kindred dealing with the Predator’s Taint in a park) rest solely on the shoulders of the Kindred in question. In the city’s early years, before the parks were officially set apart and granted special status by the mortal government, such areas were the unofficial (and in some cases, official) tenurial domains of the local Gangrel. As such, members of that clan still hold a “claim” of sorts—though a largely unofficial one now, borne mostly of respect—to park areas. The park areas officially “protected” by Vidal’s decree include the following:

• Audobon Park (located by the river on the western edge of Uptown)
• Behrman Memorial Park (across the river near the suburb of Algiers)
• City Park (the fifth-largest urban park in the country)
• Coliseum Square (in the Lower Garden District)
• Crestmont Park (in the suburb of Metairie)
• Fair Grounds Race Track (in Esplanade Ridge)
• Jackson Square (in the French Quarter)
• Lafayette Square (in the Central Business District)
• Louis Armstrong Park (just outside the Quarter)
• Pontchartrain Park (just south of the lake that bears its name)
• Privateer Park (a smaller park nestled in the north of Gentilly)
• Washington Square Park (inside Faubourg Marigny)
• Woldenberg Park (in the French Quarter, on the riverside)

What the city is truly known for is its splendid boneyards. New Orleans is home to over 40 cemeteries, each with a slightly different look and feel than the next. The primary cause of this reputation is the fact that the vast majority of graves in Crescent City are aboveground, due to the region’s high water table. (Early residents had to first scuttle their coffins to ensure that they would sink, and even then, heavy rains would draw the coffins back up to the surface, often washing their resident cadavers down flooded city streets.) The final resting places of loved ones are as varied as the interred themselves, but a handful of tomb styles prevail.

Family tombs, the cemetery version of two-story single family homes, are the most common. They are privately owned and usually house the remains of more than one generation of their owners. The wall vaults that surround many cemeteries are often called “ovens,” due to the fact that they are known to get hot enough to slowly incinerate the bodies held within during summer months. (After a year and a day, these vaults are often opened so that newly deceased can be placed within.) The last and grandest common style of burial chamber is the “society” tomb. These were begun by benevolent associations who wanted to ensure proper burial for members of a particular community; many were dedicated to 19th-century religious groups who had to pool funds to see to their dead. The larger society tombs have upwards of 20 or more vaults, which are reused over time (thus leading to some large populations).

Among the larger or more impressive of the city’s many cemeteries are St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (just outside the Quarter), Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (in the Garden District), Metairie and Greenwood Cemeteries (just west of City Park), St. Roch Cemetery (a few blocks lakeward from Faubourg Marigny) and St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery (located two blocks north of Bywater).

City Geography

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