Long a complex multi-cultural city crossing a wide range of socio-economic strata, the New Orleans has had its share of problems with crime, education, social infrastructure, and economic health. At the same time, the city exudes a unique cross-cultural charm making it a favorite tourist spot as well as a proud home to many enjoying its arts, unique entertainment profile, and its French-accented Southern grace.
For arts, culture, entertainment, music, food, history, and architecture, there is hardly a better place to live than New Orleans. It is probably the most right-brained city in the country. Things get done, but at a relaxed, leisurely pace, and an element of artistic expression and fun. The local phrase “laissez les bon temps rouler,” or “let the good times roll,” sums it up.
Old infrastructures and geographic limitations have left the city with narrow streets and underdeveloped transportation routes. The summer climate is generally uncomfortable, and heavy downpours occur with almost no notice. The crime rate continues to be notoriously high. Metairie is a more family-oriented commercial unincorporated area to the west of downtown, Kenner is a suburb farther west and is the location of the international airport.
The New Orleans metro area is virtually surrounded by water. Lake Pontchartrain, some 610 square miles in area, borders the city on the north and the Mississippi River flows along the southern edge. In other directions, there are bayous, lakes, and marshlands. Elevations vary from a few feet below sea level (protected by massive levees) to a few feet above. Floods are a persistent hazard. The climate is humid subtropical with an extra dose of humidity from nearby water and wetlands, but the water moderates temperatures. Summers are persistently warm and humid with almost daily showers and thundershowers. Winter is mild, with steady rains from December through March. Nearby water can produce dense fog. Late spring and late fall are the driest seasons.