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Gulfcoast Antebellum Watering Places and Hotels
Gold Coast Watering Places
by Dan Ellis
Watering Places – what a wonderful term to apply to the original towns and villages that were strung out one after the other along the Mississippi Gulf Coast with beginnings in 1699. Watering Places is actually an antebellum name that most adequately termed the tourist attractions that could only be reached by water. Before the Civil War, it was truly a “water-world” that was navigated in catering to the monied gentry of New Orleans and river plantation owners.
It became chic to establish a summer cottage on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As New Orleans became over-crowded, crime-ridden, noisy, dirty, and unhealthy – more and more of the wealthy sought out coastal havens – first by boat – later, after 1872, by train; and after 1920, by automobile.
The Watering Places were inviting to those able to make the trips. They beckoned the wealthy who were able to live in seclusive environs. They beckoned the young who while visiting, met and married their spouses. They beckoned the ailing, infirmed, and crippled who sought cures from the restful waters proclaimed by the health spa resorts.
The Watering Places endured the plague of yellow fever, the destructions of hurricanes, the pangs of conflagrations, the trials of Civil War, the tides of economic depressions, and the throes of demolition through aging and lack of maintenance.
Gold Coast Watering Places began first with boarding houses and later with hotels that were expanded upon to make each coastal village unique. The early Watering Places competed with each other just as today, by offering extensive cuisine in the form of local seafood and locally grown vegetables. By offering high class saloons for the drinking persons pleasures. By offering activities in the form of bowling, billiards, boating, swimming, fishing. By offering wagering in the forms of boxing bouts, goat fighting, cock fighting, and various forms of roulette and table games. By offering entertainment galas in the form of dances and masquerade balls with live music to suit the merry makers.
Although not called the Gold Coast today, the Mississippi Gulf Coast was particularly referred to as the Gold Coast during the 1940s through 1960s because of its open bars and open, but illegal, gambling.
More than two hundred photographs are shown of more than 60 hotels that were built along the Mississippi Gulf Coast during the 1800s and early 1900s.
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Dan Ellis' Gulf Coast Quadrilogy:
Ellis can be reached at 228-452-3138 or Ask@DanDllis.Net
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