The color had drained from the Vieux Carré.
Wood splintered, paint peeled. Decay took hold of everything. Ivy crept through silent courtyards, the bubble of water fountains long silenced.
The French Quarter of early 20th century was a forgotten place, frozen in time and trapped in poverty.
Abandoned by the well-to-do, the neighborhood became a hotbed of organized crime, filled with pickpockets and petty crooks. The culprits were known by name and by mark: Jim Kelly raided hotels, Ned Lyons picked safes, The Lop-Eared Kid robbed trains.
The town was left to rot. Progress was reserved for parts elsewhere.
Obvious beauty and unrestrained opulence reigned in streets just beyond. The baroque façade of the Cotton Exchange on Carondelet. The fleet of shining streetcars on Canal. The French Quarter was a crumbling relic by comparison. Calls for its wholesale destruction were made by those who believed it beyond repair. There were many.
Elizebeth T. Werlein was not among them.