Mardi Gras is celebrated here unlike anywhere else in North America. That’s because it was introduced to North America right here in 1703, in the “Little Easy,” a city that once was the capital of colonial French Louisiana.
That rich history is very much alive on so many streets and beautiful tree-lined squares throughout town. But it’s down Government Street, leading west from the banks of the Mobile River, that pretty much every one of the city’s unique Mardi Gras parades passes.
Government Street is a central point of reference for Mobile. It’s home to the Mobile Carnival Museum, celebrating all that is Mobile’s Mardi Gras, and it’s right in the heart of the parade routes. Up near the river is the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center, which is dedicated to increasing science and math literacy and to “igniting curiosity in the world around us.”
Mardi Gras Park itself is a relatively new addition to that was dedicated last year along Government Street. Developed where courthouses once stood, this beautiful green space conveys the colorful traditions of Mardi Gras and Mobile’s history with bright statues that represent various aspects of the annual celebration.
Even when some of what makes Mobile so charming and unique isn’t actually right on Government Street, it’s just a short walk away. Across the park on South Royal Street, for example, sits the grand History Museum of Mobile, where the city’s rich heritage is preserved and shared. Just two blocks off Government is Dauphin Street, an open-container district where locals and visitors alike can celebrate Mardi Gras any day or night, drink in hand. It’s also chock full of restaurants whose fare ranges from burgers to fine dining.
A block or so off Government on South Claiborne Street, the cornerstone of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was laid in 1835. Mobile was the first Catholic parish on the Gulf Coast, and the cathedral remains a spiritual and cultural landmark.
Mobile is also a place of commerce and industry. The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park on Mobile Bay pays homage to the ship’s role in World War II, and also honors Mobile’s shipbuilding roots. The relatively new Gulf Quest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico overlooks the Mobile River and the Port of Mobile as it recognizes this area’s storied maritime heritage.
Primary + Mobile Public Library photos taken by Ryan Castillo
Mobile Carnival Museum photo taken by Scot Terry
Mobile, AL is the home of a 2016-17 LifeChanger: Stephanie Wheat