On the corner of Carrollton and Oak Street sits a quaint yet dignified New Orleans gem. Rue de la Course is an uptown coffee house that lives and breathes within the structure of the former Marine Bank building, dating back almost 100 years. At the intersection of tradition and modernity, Rue de la Course serves the uptown community as a space for intellectual inspiration, and most importantly, a good cup of coffee. While Rue de La Course plays a special part in the uptown New Orleans community, there is something so personal and special about adopting it as a personal place, a feeling missed by going to generic coffee shops like Starbucks or PJ’s.
Historically, coffee shops date back to the 18th century and have served as a meeting place for political discourse — discussing the news of the day, sharing poetry, and enjoying coffee with friends. While coffee shops have always served to allow for people to engage in intellectual activity, modern technology has changed the ways in which we work in coffee shops.
With all the stress and anxiety surrounding everyday life, it can be productive to find a mindless escape. Some people go for walks, some do yoga, but for many people, it is the connection with the familiarity of tradition that serves as a remedy for the stress of everyday life. A way by which many humans attempt to combat anxiety is through tradition. “Traditions fulfill important criteria for achieving the ‘Four B’s,’ our senses of Being, Belonging, Believing and Benevolence.” Tradition, tradition! We find comfort in our daily rituals however mundane or extensive they may be.
One of the endearing things about the City of New Orleans is that the city holds tightly to old world traditions. The streetcar lumbers from uptown to downtown in the same path that it has since 1835. People can enjoy a cafe au lait and a beignet under the same green and white awnings adorning cafe du monde since 1862. These are the kinds of establishments that work to include New Orleanians and tourists into a larger rich history. They juxtapose the flashy, vibrant life of New Orleans with a deeper continuity of tradition. Rue de la Course interacts with this quaint history by providing a comforting destination for customers to drink coffee, do work, and perhaps feel as though they are a part of something historic.
Under the careful watch of the gargoyles on the walls, people sit in solace at their tables working vigorously. Light from laptops have replaced candles to illuminate the faces of people hard at work. The contrast between the new and the old is apparent as the antiquity of the building hosts the vibrant residents of the city who use technology within the cafe. Rue de la Course hosts many college students, who take advantage of the stimulating environment to study.
Mixed in with the college students are local uptown residents looking to enjoy the atmosphere. At Rue de la Course, one is in company with people from all ages of life, allowing for customers to see the many faces of the uptown community. Sitting in the setting of the coffee shop with such a rich history and a diverse cross section of the community is a way for someone to relieve the stress of the day. It allows for individuals to break away from the cold and sterile environment of everyday life and immerse oneself in a warm and welcoming space. “The piles of paperwork on your work-from-home desk or the laundry spilling out of your closet seem to disappear when you stop paying attention to them for a few days, or a few weeks. That’s due to a phenomenon known as habituation—sometimes called “attentional blindness’.” This is why removing oneself from the confines of everyday life and spending time in an establishment like Rue de la Course can relieve stress and spark creative inspiration as one is more aware of the new environment rather than blinded by habits.
In a modern, fast paced world with Wi-Fi, airpods and laptops, stepping into Rue de la Course opens a portal to a different time. Tradition and nostalgia go hand in hand in our longing for order and a world without the internet. Modern technology often leads to stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Therefore, frequenting Rue de la Course with their antique spirit can feel comforting and relaxing to customers. While people do use technology like their phones and computers and the establishment utilizes technology for their check out, the tradition of attending coffee houses to meet, converse, gather inspiration, and work still holds strong. The location, design, and decoration of Rue de la Course contribute to its’ old-timey feel. Rue de la Course directly translates to “race street” drawing a sharp contrast between the fast pace of modern life and the seemingly traditional way of life within the establishment.
The scale of the high ceilings, which equate to a two-story building contribute to the spacious feel of Rue de la Course. During the day, large windows that take up half of the wall-space let in light into the cafe. At night, two oversized chandeliers cast amber light throughout the cavernous dining room. The menu, handwritten on chalkboards, lists the delights to be served.
Behind the walls of the stately building hide Rue de la Course’s many quirks and imperfections. Broken ceiling tiles and creaking tables and chairs. Outlets that don’t always hold the weight of your laptop charger. Yet, there is a spirit so endearing and special about frequenting and loving Rue de la Course even with all its flaws.
Since the 1990’s, Rue de la Course has and will continue to serve both delicious coffee and a traditional escape to New Orleans Residents. The venue continues to invoke feelings of nostalgia as customers can appreciate the location, design, and decoration of the building, even with all its quirks. Like other traditions enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, Rue de la Course is a cherished uptown delight.
Jordan is The Crescent’s Assistant Editor-in-Chief. She is a Junior majoring in Art History, Communications, and English. When Jordan is not studying in Rue de la Course, she spends her free time thrifting, reading, and spending time outdoors in Audubon Park. She loves to explore all of the beautiful things that the city of New Orleans has to offer.