Trip Summary Calendar - Where we went and when

June 16, 2004

Montgomery to New Orleans

Our brief stay in Montgomery, AL is coming to an end. Tomorrow we're headed to New Orleans for a seven-night stay.

We did some touring of downtown Montgomery today, and saw some very interesting sights, related to both the Civil War and the civil rights movement.

First we toured the Rosa Parks museum, located at the same corner where she was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white woman. The museum is small, but really quite interesting. It also has an amazing multimedia presentation of the events of that day, including a movie playing within windows of a real 1950's city bus showing what happened.

A short walk down the road is the state capitol building, which is remarkable for its beauty and (in my opinion) dark history. The building currently houses the state's executive branch (governor, lt. governor, treasurer, auditor, etc.). It used to also house the legislative branch, and the former chambers have been restored to their mid-1800's appearance. We stood in the old senate chamber, the same spot where the Confederacy was formed and the Civil War essentially began.

Also obvious to us was the lack of activity in the capitol building. This is a working building, on a regular business day, and the halls were nearly empty. We freely walked nearly everywhere; only the governor's end of one hallway was off limits. We had a nice brief chat with the secretary to the auditor. I've been through the state house in Boston; you can't walk six feet without bumping into someone. Even with the state reps across the street it was eery how quiet it was.

The same lack of activity was reflected throughout the downtown. Even in front of the capitol we crossed streets without having to wait for cars. Many storefronts are vacant. On-street metered parking was plentiful. We parked in a city lot (truck too big for the street spots) and the attendant felt bad charging us $2 for the day. We ate lunch at a local tex-mex restaurant, at the height of lunch hour just three blocks from the capitol and there were still vacant tables. Weird.

Then we walked less than a block from where the civil war started to where the fight for civil rights started - the baptist church where Dr. King served as pastor for six years. (The short distance between the two was a real shock.) We stood in the same church basement where Dr. King, Rosa Parks and others organized the bus boycotts of 1955.

Another short walk and we were at the First White House of the Confederacy, the home to Jefferson Davis for a year before the confederate government moved (against his wishes) to Richmond. I never understood the South's love of its confederate past, and don't think I ever will. Walking through the home (which is lovely) you'd never know the house is famous for housing the fight in favor of slavery and ultimately the deaths of so many Americans. Davis is consistently referred to as President Davis, and the home could be considered a low-budget presidential museum. We saw his old furniture, rooms where he met with members of his government, and odd artifacts like a bottle of wine he made (still full!) and his old shoes. There was little mention of the fact the South lost the war. The whole thing was a bit creepy.

That was it for our walking tour of Montgomery. We're looking forward to a week in New Orleans, one of our most anticipated stops on our journey. If you've been there and have a suggestion for something special to do or see, please add a comment here or send us an email.

Once we're settled in New Orleans we'll post photos from our last few stops.

Posted by Mitch at June 16, 2004 10:44 PM
Comments

To southern folk its The war or northern aggression.

Posted by: Herb at June 19, 2004 05:28 PM

For good food got to Mr. B's Bistro. Its in the french quater.
Ther is also a coffie shop tht has GREAT begnets Cafe DuMond

Posted by: Herb at June 19, 2004 05:38 PM
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