The historic French Quarter of New Orleans is a place of legend and lore, and nowhere is this more evident than in the infamous Pirate’s Alley. This unassuming lane dates to 1831 and is located just off St. Peter’s Street between Chartres and Royal. The one-block long alley way is claimed by some to have been a meeting ground for pirates, or that slaves were sold in nearby.
More likely, it was named for the nefarious criminals who were transported to the Spanish Dungeon, which was once located behind the Cabildo. Pirate’s Alley intersects with the Cabildo Alley, which in turn connects to St. Peter Street. If you look at the intersection of Pirate’s Alley and Cabildo Alley, you will see a lamppost that has become one of the most photographed and painted landmarks in the French Quarter.
Undoubtedly the most famous site to see within Pirate’s Alley is the Faulkner House. This building, painted in a cheery color common to the French Quarter, was home to the great American author William Faulkner. It was here at 624 Pirate’s Alley that he penned his first novel Soldier’s Pay in 1925. Although the building is mainly a private residence, there is a bookstore, Faulkner House Books, on the first floor and private tours can be arranged for a donation to the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society.
Today’s Pirate’s Alley is a slice of old New Orleans. Its artistic heritage is reflected in the annual New Orleans Spring Fiesta Pirate Alley Art Show. During the festival, artists hang their masterpieces across the alley at the iron fence that borders St. Anthony’s Gardens (on the grounds of the St. Louis Cathedral). Since the return of tourism to New Orleans post-Katrina, the Alley is a popular destination for all who love exploring the rich history of the Big Easy.