I could have driven the more prosaic way from New Orleans to Lafayette, but I decided instead to go the back way from the West Bank of New Orleans by way of Morgan City into New Iberia and then Lafayette. I reasoned that there would be better scenery, and I had always wanted to better explore Morgan City, an island city which is best known for being threatened by hurricanes. Morgan City proved to be interesting indeed. I stopped first at DJ’s Music, which proved to be a car stereo shop as well as a record store, and I bought a hip-hop mix CD there before heading on to downtown Morgan City, whose main street ran parallel to the Atchafalaya River and was called Front Street.
Front Street was lined with old and historic buildings, many of them painted bright pastel colors. Although the river view was blocked by a large seawall, the balconies of many of the buildings were high enough to have a view of the water, but on closer inspection, many of the buildings appeared to be empty. Aside from one fairly upscale restaurant called Cafe Jojo’s, there was no place to eat along the street, and few of the shops seemed to be open. One of the buildings had been a department store which looked as if it had been out of business for many years, yet all the clothes still hung on racks inside, as if it was just left after its last day of business. The two historic-looking buildings at the far southern end of Front Street proved to be part of a food-service company that specializes in providing food to the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. North Railroad Street around the corner had a handful of rather seedy-looking lounges. A walk around the downtown area revealed a few historic buildings and an old church, a shady park, and the classic City Hall with its decorative palm trees. But Front Street has a look of tired desolation and missed opportunities, a street that with the right planning and vision could become a tourist and entertainment attraction, a street of restaurants, night clubs, boutique hotels, condominiums and art galleries. I found Morgan City both beautiful but also a little depressing.