The wrought iron balconies of the French Quarter in New Orleans are a tourist attraction in themselves. They are endlessly photographed by visitors and appear in most of the travel literature about the city.
Despite the name, most of the buildings in the French Quarter are of Spanish design. It was the Spanish who were the colonial masters of New Orleans at the time of the great fire of 1788, which destroyed over 850 houses. New houses were constructed in less flammable materials. The craze for fancy balconies was begun by the Baroness Micaela Almonaster de Pontalba, who added them to the fashionable terraces she had built around Jackson Square.
The low-temperature smelting and hammering used to manufacture wrought iron produces a very pure material, making it much more resistant to corrosion and far less brittle than cast iron.