Developers responded the trend
of increased relaxation and resorts grew in number
in the south and northeast.
Even without this growing
popularity, residents of New Orleans had numerous
going to resorts including civil and political unrest, labor problems,
crime, drugs, heat, humidity, and poor sanitation. The city was
a hotbed of disease
due in part to the limited sanitation methods
and the daily arrival of immigrants with
almost every sickness
imaginable. During the summer months the addition of heat
and humidity caused some of these outbreaks to reach epidemic
most devastating of these epidemics was
had long been recognized that Grand Isle could be a successful resort
first Grand Isle resort of the Gilded Age was a
dream of the entrepreneur and
developer of the Harvey Canal,
Joseph Hale Harvey. He, along with Benjamin
out the Barataria Plantation after the Civil War. They developed it
into an appealing resort as described by Evans, Stielow and
Swanson their history,
Grand Isle on the
The remodeled slave cabins, laid out
in double rows between “streets” lined
trees, became cozy cottages for the reception of guests. The
house was divided into two large rooms.
One served as a huge dining hall.
other contained a piano and was used as a dance hall. A large
could be lodged in the old plantation
residence which also held the office,
and billiard room. To the delight of the largely Creole
several hotel servants were imported from
France, Italy, and Bavaria.
Harvey offered excursions to the island
and advertised the resort, targeting the elite
of New Orleans,
the family-oriented French Creoles. Steamers ran three days a week
from New Orleans to Grand Isle.
Harvey envisioned transforming
Grand Isle into one of the most renowned resorts in the
States. The Grand Isle resorts represented a type of resort
identified as “home”
resorts. These establishments provided
a summer refuge for families that was within
of urban work places. The families spent the summer there, with the
patriarch spending the week working and joining the family for
the weekends. The resort
became a summer residence for many
Creole families, a respite from the city. Despite the
popularity of the resort, the financial Panic of 1873 caused a
slowdown in tourism, and the
Grand Isle Hotel went bankrupt.
1878 the hotel was sold to John F. Krantz who reopened it just in time for
devastating yellow jack epidemic. The successful
resort that Krantz established
encouraged others to follow suit.
George Willoz opened a pension that may have been
Chopin’s based Lebrun’s Place in The Awakening on.
Resorts gave new opportunities
to women of the time, who were the principal occupants. It
allowed them to view life in a different light. Many of the
eastern resorts were viewed as
places to meet a mate, but Grand
Isle, as a home resort, did not follow suit. But it was not
unheard of for women who were left alone for the summer to engage in
In the early 1890’s P. F.
Herwig had built
a hotel and was collecting materials to
build another. There were plans to
develop resorts on
Grande Terre and
Chénière Caminada. In 1892 the
luxurious Ocean Club was opened for
major pastime was surf-bathing and
a tram was provided to
residents from the resort to the beach.
Summer residents also enjoyed hunting,
exploring, and relaxing in
an atmosphere that was fee of
On the weekends there were dances,
parties and gambling.