Was He Just Lost in the Flood?
These aren't merely tourist attractions, however. They serve a real need -- particularly connecting the garden district, which is largely residential, to the French Quarter, where even locals go to party. St. Charles was an incredibly smooth ride, if loud. Operated by electricity supplied by an overhead cable, the trolleys have conductors who literally make the thing speed up and slow down by opening and closing a circuit with a hand lever.
The group I went with took a swamp tour by airboat (think big fan on the back of the boat). The swamps were ecological marvels, a kind of place you may not want to be around, but are really grateful that they exist (and are preserved). We travelled a bit on the intercoastal waterway, a channel for barge traffic along the gulf coast and continuing up the eastern seaboard, then tooled about the swamps. The guides had an interesting relationship to the local natural resources. For one, they were long-time locals who were immersed in swamp-related activities and particularly hunted, fished, and trapped animals like muskrats and alligators. They didn't have much of a conservation ethic, however -- and I mean conservation in the sense of taking steps to make sure that current activities could be prolonged into the distant future. There wasn't much remorse or thought about the ongoing degradation of the swamplands and what might be contributing to it, except an anecdote about the arrival of the nutria rat at the hands of the McIlhenny family (of Tabasco fame). The nutria eats the root system of some type(s) of swamp vegetation, which allows the soil to wash away down the river, a serious problem in the Mississippi delta.
Anyway, much of the area in the city is underwater due to a breach of the levee system though the French Quarter itself, wisely built upon a hill, fared well. Though a LOT of the residential areas were run down, they had a special character, and throughout the city one found 2nd story verandas and balconies, a particular favorite form of mine. Lets hope the trolleys, for which replacement parts must be custom machined these days, get back up and running soon.
UPDATE: That doesn't look too promising. The whole city may henceforth be a memory.