The Old Absinthe House is the oldest bar in New Orleans. Founded at the corner of Bourbon and Bienville streets in 1836, or at least by 1842—its early years are murky, as you can read in Part I of its history, here—it survived hurricanes, riots and the Civil War, which left the city’s economy in shambles after years of occupation by Federal troops.
By the late 1860s, the Absinthe House was being managed by a second generation of the Aleix family, the Catalan immigrants who had founded the business, and it was gaining recognition as a local institution; as a surviving snippet of the real, old French Quarter. The next two generations of management would see it become a world-famous symbol of that neighborhood and its heavily-mythologized Creole culture.
When the French Opera House opened at the end of 1859 on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans it was the first purpose-built opera house in the United States. An elegant, three-story stone building in the Greek Revival style, it was one of the city’s landmarks until 1919, when it was consumed by fire.