Jackson Square is the heart of New Orleans' French Quarter. Known at first as the Place d'Armes, it became Jackson Square to honor Andrew Jackson. An equestrian statue of the general was erected in the center of the square in 1856.
    Immediately around the statue are the gardens of the square, filled with palm trees and huge live oaks. Many weddings are held there, and it's host to a nearly invisible community of feral cats.
    The gardens are surrounded by an old, tall iron fence, and the four gates into the gardens are locked every night. Once they're locked, the cats come out of hiding, and the gardens belong to them.
    Some French Quarter residents do show up at night and slide little paper plates of cat food under the gates. When I go out to the square before 5 a.m. (you have to get there early to get a good spot sometimes), I usually see the kitties lying regally on the sidewalks in the gardens, and I see the empty plates near the gates.
    There's much about New Orleans that's different so early in the morning. I feel like I get to see a part of the city that many others miss. Down by the square, you don't see many people, and those you do see are either heading to bed or heading to work. Up on Bourbon Street, the music is still playing, and the hardcore are still partying, but down at the square, the milk is being delivered at the Cafe du Monde, and the artists are slowly, quietly setting up on the fence.
    Since the 1920s, Jackson Square has been a gathering place for artists, who hang their work on the grand iron fence to sell to passersby. In the following years, fortune tellers, musicians and street performers began gathering there as well.
    I'm one of those who's lucky enough to have a permit to sell art in the square, and Nancy and I try to get out there one weekend each month. To sit there in the square, watch the people go by, talk with tourists and eat poor boys for lunch, well, it's a lot of fun.
    As one of the artists, who goes by the name Monkey Man (he paints a lot of monkeys) says, "There's no better office in the world than right here. " That's a picture of Monkey Man to the right. He's a good guy and really took us under his wing when we first showed up in 2009. The whole community of artists, from the New Orleans based who come out almost daily to those like me from surrounding areas who come once in a while, really is a great group of people. They love what they do, and they enjoy meeting people out there.
    Here are some more of the artists we've gotten to know out there:
                     Katie                                                  Jason

                         Ken                                                Jody

    * I've been writing a blog about my times out on the square and posting it on Facebook. I call it "On the Fence," and you can read it by clicking here.

    * There's a Jackson Square webcam. You can go to it by clicking here.

If you'd like to see a page on this site that I call Happy Customers - a gallery of photos that really mean a lot to me - click on the thumbnail photo to the left.